Homeschooling allows for so many options on how to approach different topics. Some years I like to teach Julius Caesar and Ides of March only in the historical context of ancient Rome. However, during the high school years I usually do a few lessons that tie in Shakespeare’s play (Language Arts) to actual history in the year we do ancient history. I find this challenging because, though I love Shakespeare and the historical Julius Caesar (and the Underling and Cohorts will be the first to tell you love is not a strong enough word), I am not a fan of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. Below are the resources I’ve put together over the years to help me survive the Ides of March.
ONLINE ARTICLES & RESOURCES
- Ancient History Encyclopedia’s article, Julius Caesar by Joshua Mark, is a great place to start for middle school and high school students. The article is a brief bio and includes a timeline.
- Sarah Bond wrote a fun article, 5 Caesar Facts To Be Aware Of On the Ides of March, for Forbes. This is appropriate for middle school and high school.
- I can’t let a post about the Ides of March go by without mentioning Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. No Fear Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is free online through SparkNotes. I love that SparkNotes has the modern English version and Shakespeare’s original side by side. This is a great way to introduce middle schoolers to Shakespeare.
- High schoolers interested in business and entrepreneurship might be enjoy 7 Unforgettable Leadership Lessons from the Ancient Roman Conqueror Julius Caesar by Áine Cain, published by Business Insider.
- Did you know SparkNotes has a YouTube Channel: Video SparkNotes? Check out their video, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar Summary. This is a great way to introduce mature elementary and middle school ages. High schoolers will get a lot out of this video as well.
- Elementary and middle school ages usually love Horrible Histories. Episode 3, Rotten Romans, from season 1 is the one about Julius Caesar. Amazon Instant Video and Hulu both carry it at the writing of this post.
- TED Ed’s animation and lesson plan, The Great Conspiracy Against Julius Caesar, is free and available online, written for middle and high school.
- History.com’s article by Arther Ferrill, Julius Caesar, includes a coroner’s report video. The article and video are for middle school and high school audiences.
- Tales from Shakespeare by Marcia Williams is for ages 8 to 13. This book includes Julius Caesar along with a few other plays. It is written in comic book style, so it’s not for every one, but it is a great hook for kids who love graphic novels.
- Brick Shakespeare: The Tragedies-Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Caesar by John McCann and Becky Thomas. Kids are never too young for Shakespeare. The Brick Shakespeare books are abridged versions of the plays with pictures of LEGO figures and sets serving as illustrations. Kids of all ages love these books.
- My favorite book written by Julius Caesar is published by Oxford World’s Classics. The entire title is The Gallic War: Seven Commentaries on The Gallic War with an Eighth Commentary by Aulus Hirtius. If you have a teenager who loves military history, this is a must have. This is more than a war journal, it is how Caesar divided and conquered forces larger than his in unknown territory. Caesar was a brilliant but thorough writer, which makes this primary source easier to read than you might guess.
- The Civil War of Caesar by Julius Caesar from Penguin Classics is a primary source. It is dense though well translated and a very good read. High schoolers could certainly read it, or at least select readings from this book. This book describes Caesar’s trouble with Pompey over how to rule and administer to Rome. It is not entirely written by Caesar, it is finished by his lieutenants. This book does include Caesar’s relationship with Cleopatra.
ACTIVITIES & LESSON PLANS
- Though not specifically about Julius Caesar, the Birmingham Museums for Kids has a fun online interactive section. The activities and printables page for Ancient Rome can be found here. These are designed for upper elementary ages.
- A Julius Caesar lesson plan based on the Shakespeare play can be found on Varsity Tutor’s page. Be sure to check out the 60 Second Shakespeare link. Though this is a high school based lesson plan, parts of it could easily be used in middle school.
- Cold Case Rome activity by Mr. Roughton is designed to be a class room activity. Parts of this lesson plan could be adapted for single student use or for two students, but I think it is best with four or more students. This is great for a co-op class (Shakespeare class or ancient history class) or to do with a few other families. The kids don’t need a lot of background information to do this activity. Have them read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar and a few historical articles (like the ones listed above) before engaging in this activity. For more tips on how to physically set up this activity, see Ms. B’s Got Class post. I’ve done this twice so far and will absolutely do it again. It is very engaging for high school ages.
APPS and GAMES
- History for Kids by Planet Factory Interactive is for ages 9 to 11 (though I think 8 year olds and older kids will also enjoy this app). This app is available for iPhone and iPad. It is listed as free with in-app purchases. Right now it is $2.99 to unlock all the adventures and pathways (Ancient Rome, Ancient Greece, Ancient Egypt, Vikings, and Middle Ages). In this fun app, users can click on figures on the map to learn information and then choose the dice to play one of many games. What I love about this app is that up to four players can play at once, passing the device back and forth after each game. The intro screen has a brief timeline as well.
- Britannica Kids: Ancient Rome by Encyclopedia Britannica is recommended for ages 8 to 14, available on iPhone and iPad. This app has a little of everything: articles, pictures, maps, games and quizes. There are sections on art and architectures and Roman mythology. Finding an article specifically
about Julius Caesar is easy to find. This is a great app as a stand alone unit study or as a supplement to Ancient history or the History of Rome.
- The Rise of the Roman Empire app by TimeMaps is for iPad only. It is designed for ages 12 and up. I am a huge fan of all of TimeMaps’ apps. Users can scroll through the whole timeline and map or use the arrows to jump to a specific year. The information (i) icons change the text in the text box so users can learn more about specific events or places.
- Julius Caesar board game by Columbia Games is a two player game for ages 12 and up. This game is harder to find, but is worth searching for if your children like strategy games. The game play is long (like Risk). Players choose between Pompey or Caesar and follow the Civil War of Rome story line.
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