Getting Excited: 2nd Grade – 4th Grade

Teaching Ancient History

In this stage, learning in general becomes more formal, but history should still be a subject that focuses less on facts and more on engagement and exploration. Try to begin drawing connections between the different ancient civilizations and explore their similarities and differences.

Make an ancient history timeline to show the different events occuring at the same time to help your student understand events that were going on at the same time in history.

Elementary children are just starting to grasp the idea of time, although it’s still hard to separate the “long ago” of a grandparent’s life from the “long ago” of ancient history. By using timelines, you can help them start to visually see the way time flows throughout history. You can build personal timelines while you’re creating ancient history timelines to help initiate an understanding of this concept of time. Use timelines such as the ones below or consider these as guides to help you create your own!


Continue reading books that bring ancient history to life.

Continue to nurture a love for reading in your student by allowing them to read books that look at a variety of ancient history aspects. This is a great stage to introduce independent reading as well as continuing read-alouds. To encourage independent reading, try scheduling a specific time in their day for this activity. Discuss and ask questions about what they read to ensure they are comprehending the material.


Tie biblical history to ancient history, using the Bible as a framework or timeline through which to explore other cultures.

Build on your student’s growing concept of time by demonstrating visually how ancient civilizations and events occurred simultaneously. Compare the biblical timelines they create to the ancient history timelines they created previously. This allows them to see how events unfolded in different civilizations within the same timeframe. Here are some resources that can help you with the biblical side of the timeline.


Introduce map studies, exploring ancient map activities and comparing the location of ancient civilizations to more modern cultures.

At this stage your student has a good grasp of the concept then vs. now. While their grasp of “long ago” may still be somewhat relative, map exploration is a great way to show definitive changes. For example, compare the map of ancient Rome to a map of Italy today, discuss how borders have changed, and why. Here are some additional resources to help you with this.


Do math problems in a Babylonian or Roman style.

Numerical values have been part of human interactions since the early years of civilization. Study how numbers and math were used in ancient Rome and ancient Babylon. Help your student think of a time when math would have been useful in ancient times and help them work the imagined problem out in Babylonian or Roman style.


Go to a museum and check out the ancient history section.

Museums are wonderful outings at any age, but especially for your student who is at the early stage of understanding how research works. Have your child write down 2-5 questions they have about ancient history in a notebook. You can use their notebook of questions as a guide when touring ancient history exhibits. Look for answers to their questions within the exhibit information, or ask a museum curator/volunteer. Have them write the answers down in their notebook. New questions can be written down as you tour and researched later at home or at the library.