Explain to the students that they will be recreating the battle of Thermopylae using water balloons. The traffic cones outline the narrow path and the picnic should be turned on its side to simulate the wall the Spartans used for defense. Explain to the students that they cannot leave the “pass”, one side is a sheer cliff while the other drops off into the water.
Explain that the Persians can not get out. This simulates the overwhelming odds the Spartans faced. The Spartan team can get hit 3 times before they are dead. This simulates their superior equipment.
Divide the battle into three short rounds, each one simulating a day. Be sure to limit each round’s water balloons or the students will go through them in one round. Between the second and third round tell the students that a secret path around the wall has been found. Allow them to take a small group of “Persians” to ambush the Spartans on the third day.
If all goes as it should the Spartan team should lose on the third day. After everyone is cleaned up, discuss with the students how the Persian army would feel when a relatively small army could hold them off and inflict terrible casualties over a three day period. Furthermore, how might they feel when confronting a much larger army made up of the same type of soldiers? Might this have had an effect on the Persian’s willingness to fight?
Put the students into groups and have them prepare a battle plan using resources on the web. Then have them create a graphic design detailing their plan and strategy.
You can evaluate groups on their charts using the following three-point rubric:
Three points: well designed; clear and carefully prepared plans adequately defending their position.
Two points: adequately designed plans; legible and satisfactorily prepared; some data missing