Greek Mythology Retablos

By Monica Fontova, February 27, 2017

Grade Level

  • Elementary School


  • Other

Subject Area

  • Arts
  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Lesson Time

5 50 minute sessions


Students will design and create a retablo devoted to their favorite Greek god or goddess from the 12 Olympians. They will use background knowledge from studying Greek Mythology through ELA by reading and read-alouds. Students will research their god/goddess to get a better understanding of their character. This knowledge will help students make choices when deciding how to design their retablo.

National Standards

CCSS.English Language Arts-LITERACY.RL.2.2- Recount stories, including fables and folktales from diverse cultures, and determine their central message, lesson, or moral. CCSS.English Language Arts-LITERACY.RL.2.3- Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges. World History – H-1D-E1- Identify how dance, music, and arts of various cultures around the world reflect the history, daily life, and beliefs of the people Visual Arts – Standard 4 – LEVEL II (Grade K-4) Benchmark 3 – Know how history, culture, and the visual arts can influence each other


Students will: • understand that ancient cultures made of stories and characters to explain scientific phenomenon they did not yet understand, such as seasons changing • Engage in deeper level thinking by researching one particular god/goddess (allow students to use ipads or computers to research their god/goddess using the “kid-friendly” site: • Learn multiple art techniques in order to create one multimedia art piece


  • Core Knowledge flipbook of Greek Myths: •


  • small cardboard boxes (shoe box)
  • various magazines
  • glue and scissors
  • white paper, pencils, markers, crayons
  • model magic or self-hardening clay
  • acrylic paint, brushes
  • ipads or laptops


Retablo – is a devotional painting, especially a small popular or folk art one using iconography derived from traditional Catholic church art. Mythology – A body or collection of myths belonging to a people and addressing their origin , history, deities, ancestors, and heroes. Olympians – relating to the greater gods and goddesses of the ancient Greek pantheon, whose abode was Mount Olympus Collage – a technique of composing a work of art by pasting on a single surface various materials not normally associated with one another, as newspaper clippings, parts of photographs, theater tickets, and fragments of an envelope.


Lesson 1 – 50 minutes (free draw god/goddess) Show students images of South American retablos and discuss the different elements. What are they used for? Who are they made for? What art techniques are used? Show students visual images from Core Knowledge flip book of the 12 Olympians for inspiration. Students will draw their god/goddess with pencil on white paper. Each figure must include an element that the god/goddess in most known for. For example, Artemis will be holding a bow. They will then color them in, and then cut them out being very precise to follow the lines. Lesson 2 – 50 minutes (Collage) Today the students will be given various magazines such as National Geographics. They will search through the magazines and cut out images that are symbolic representations of their particular god/goddess. For example, if a student chooses Poseidon, they would cut out images of water, fish, sea life, etc. Once they have acquired their cut-outs, they will create a collage inside the cardboard box. They will be shown that they need to start with the largest cutouts first, as a background, then layer smaller ones on top until the inside of the box is totally covered. We do not want any white space to show. Before they start designing, as a whole class we will discuss what each god/goddess is most known for. We will ask questions such as: What is the god/goddess’ temperament? What do they control? What kind of powers do they possess? What is their habitat like? What implements do they use? Lesson 3 – 50 minutes (Sculpting) Today students will use clay to sculpt at least two objects to glue into their box. Just like the collage, the objects must be symbolic to their god/goddess. Poseidon may have a trident, Demeter may have a bowl of fruit, Zeus may have a lightning bolt, etc. Before the students begin, they will practice making various shapes using the clay. We will practice rolling it into a snake, a ball, a pancake and a square. From this point on, students have free range to create their objects. Lesson 4 – 50 minutes (Painting) Today students will use acrylic paint to paint the outside of their boxes, as well as their clay pieces. They will only receive 5 colors: white, black, red, blue and yellow. They will be taught how to mix the primary colors in order to get the secondary colors such as orange, purple and green. The students will paint the outside of the boxes with a design. They will then paint the clay objects appropriately. Lesson 5 – 60 minutes (Putting it all together) Once everything has dried, we will put all of the pieces of the retablo together. The box will stand up vertically. The students will glue the drawing of their god/goddess on the bottom lip of the box, midway to the back, so that it is free standing and not glued directly to the background. They will then glue the clay pieces where they see aesthetically fit. They will create a scroll-like sign of the god/goddess’ name to affix to the top of the box.


Assess students’ understanding of god/goddess’ characteristics by doing informal assessment and walk-through during the collage and clay process. See collage rubric attached. Students will guide Assessment of final retablo. Each student will get a list of all students’ names in the class. They will do a walk through of the retablo displays and try to figure out which god/goddess each student based their retablo on. They will use clues from the collage, clay sculptures and drawings.

Enrichment Extension Activities

Create a new story for their god/goddess based on their powers and temperament. The story must contain the ELA standards of story elements such as characters, setting and plot. Their must be a beginning, middle and end. The character must experience a problem and solve it.

Teacher Reflection

After completing this lesson, I am very pleased with the high quality designs produced by the students, as well as their deepened understanding of Greek Mythology. I will absolutely do this project again and will make minor revisions.

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