- Togas (made from white sheets and king-size pillowcases), with golden rope for belts
- Laurel wreath head garlands – given as prizes for Olympics (made from green posterboard and spray painted with gold glitter paint)
- Sandals (made from cardboard and ribbon)
- Classroom door: Pillars on each side, sheer white curtains draped over the top, and a “Phi-Beta-Kappa (ΦΒΚ) TOGA PARTY HERE” sign hanging crooked on the doorknob. *P.S. Phi Beta Kappa means “Love of wisdom is the guide of life” or “Philosophy is the governor of one’s life.” (*https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phi_Beta_Kappa)
- Food table (in center of the room): Push all the desks together to make a table and cover it with layers of colorful tablecloths and draped tulle. Make a centerpiece of tall candlesticks and metal vases with flowers. Set finger foods around on the table like a buffet. Set out fixings for Gyros. Set out platters of cheese curds or cubes, almonds, and varieties of olives; figs, dates, pomegranates, artichokes, and pedestal-bowls heaped with green, red, and purple grapes spilling over the sides.
- Chase lounge chairs covered in sheets or cushions: poolside or lawn lounge chairs are what I had in mind.
- Music CD: Animal House Soundtrack (some of it is fun and useful), and if you have a computer, or even better, a Roku and TV available there are some marvelous Greek instrumental music (You Tube) videos (some up to 2½ hours long) out there that offer both music and a slide show of Grecian landscapes that are awesome for ambience.
- Photo Booth props with backdrop: Amazon.com
- Greek “grazing” table (grapes, olives, figs, pomegranates, artichokes, almonds, gyro ingredients: flat bread, Tzatziki, roasted chickpeas or grilled chicken pieces, grape tomatoes, spinach, and cucumbers, Fava dip, *cheese curds, white or purple grape juice in wine bottles, and Baklava for dessert
- Wine goblets with handles on both sides (like sugar bowls w/o lids), which you can later use to explain an ancient Greek men’s game of throwing out the dregs.
Foot & Hand Washing
I provided a tub of clean water on a mat beside the classroom entrance, and paper towels, for the kids to wash their own feet and hands. As soon as they entered the room – with their correct “first” foot, I asked them to remove their shoes and then explained the custom of foot washing. And then, since food was often eaten with hands, the Greeks also had a custom of hand washing before meals.
I introduced several Table Talk discussion topics while the kids were sitting around in the recliners eating (I have a Box of Table Talk cards that I use for dinner table discussions – Food for Talk by Julienne Smith, which the teacher said she also has, that her mother sent to her. It must be a grandma thing! 😉 Too funny!).
I introduced Marbles, Dice, and KnuckleBones (which are available on Amazon: “Gogo Jacks, Rainbow Jacks, Osselets – New Vintage Game of Jacks Full Set of 5 with Instructions.” by On The Go) to the kids, explaining how each is played, and also…
Guess Who? (Family Box game, but replace caricatures that come in the game with my Greek versions – Greek teachers, philosophers, historians, artists, poets, playwrights, etc. I made sheets of these which you can download and print for free).
I broke the class into 4 groups of 2 or 3 kids. Each group started at one of the four games. I gave them about 10 minutes to play their game and then signaled them to stand-up and move clockwise to the next game.
I was prepared for two craft projects: Making sandals, and Making earrings, but we ran out of time to do these. (They were honestly a back-up plan for inclement weather anyway).
Olympic games (Outdoors), End-of-the-school-year theme
- Lunch box discus throw – I filled a lunch bag with dried beans to give it some weight
- Pencil javelin throw – I used an old broom handle, painted it, and sanded a tip on one end
- Long jump – I used full plastic water-bottles for the weights, the larger the better
- Alarm clock shot-put – I painted a clock face on a rock
- Reading/Writing/Arithmetic Foot Race Relay – stack books up as obstacles on the track
- Chariot/horse racing – I made stick horses, but wrap-around cardboard chariots where my other plan “I have finished the race…”
- Thumb or Arm Wrestling (after a popsicle break, the kids can pair up at the picnic tables)
Alternative Outdoor games
- Medusa Freeze Tag
- Gracee read to the kids for the last 15 minutes out of Aesop’s Fables (FYI: Aesop was born in Greece).
These are some wonderful books that offer tons of ideas, games and crafts a few of which are featured in this post ( I purchased my copies used from online booksellers):
RULES TO GAMES
The game of knucklebones, also known as astragaloi in Greek and tali in Latin, can be played in several different ways. The simplest and perhaps most common form of this game, played by children, is comparable to the modern-day game of jackstones: all five small pieces are simultaneously tossed into the air, the goal being to catch as many as possible on the back of one hand. Another variation of the game involved players throwing one or more of the pieces into a small dirt hole in the ground or into the opening of a small vessel. He or she with the best aim would win.
Marbles is a fun game that has been enjoyed for thousands of years.
Setting up the Game
Use yarn to make a circle on the carpet about 3 ft in diameter.
Place 5 of each players (usually three players) small marbles inside the circle, near the center, and arrange them in an X pattern. The one big marble in your set of marbles is your “shooter” marble.
To determine who goes first have each player sit about 10 feet from a wall and shoot or roll their shooter marble to see who can get the closest. The closest player goes first. Next closest goes second, etc.
Taking a Turn
To take a turn the player kneels outside the ring and then To shoot your marble correctly, tuck your thumb, pinkie, and ring finger into your palm. Wrap your pointer finger around the marble, holding it against your thumb knuckle. Then, with your “knuckles down” on the ground, use your thumb to flick the marble from your finger towards the group of marbles in the center of the circle.
The first shot must be taken from the edge of the circle, but the next shot can be taken from the spot where the shooter landed.
Pick up all the marbles you knocked out of the circle and place them beside you, then have another turn. If no marble is knocked out of the circle, the other player then gets a turn.
Winning in Marbles
When the ring is empty of marbles the game is over. The player with the most marbles at the end of the game is the winner.
Taw – shooter marble. It’s usually a heavier marble than the ones in the center so it can knock them out of the circle. Other names for the shooter marble include Aggie, boulder, Steele, king, and middleman.
Mibs or Kimmies – the marbles in the center of the circle.
Lagging – shooting or rolling the marble to a line to determine who gets to go first.
Mibster – marble player
If you and your friends have sets of collectable or keepsake marbles and you are pretty good players, you may choose to play for “Keepsies.” Most of the time Marbles are played “for fair,” which means that every player keeps their marbles, but sometimes players keep the special marbles they win. One of the first things you want to decide is if you are playing “keepsies” or “for fair” before you begin a game.
Here’s a great website for learning Yoyo tricks: https://yoyotricks.com/yoyo-tricks/beginner-tricks/
I picked up the cheap yoyo’s from the toy section at Walmart and they were kind of frustrating for the kids to use. The string wasn’t tied tight around the center of the yoyo, so it made it hard for them to get it wound back up again once the string came unwound. Grrrr. Maybe you can figure out a solution for this?
- Guess Who? – Greek version
I made cards to replace the cards that came with the game.
Click HERE for the FREE PRINTABLES I made, so you can make your own Greek Guess Who game.
How to Play Guess Who?
To play this game, first choose your game board and then flip all your frames upright by tipping the game boards. Players sit facing each other so they can’t see the other player’s frames. Shuffle the MYSTERY cards and place them face down where each player can reach them. Each player chooses one MYSTERY card and places it in the slot in the front of their game board.
Notice the differences in each of your 24 faces. Some are girls, some are boys, some have a red, or black, or yellow background, some are wearing hats, some have beards/mustaches, some are wearing clothes, some are looking to your right, etc.
The youngest player ALWAYS goes first. On your turn you may ask ONE yes or no question. Example: Does your person have a gray background? Your opponent must then answer either “yes” or “no.” If they answer “yes” you may flip down all the faces on your board that do not have a gray background. After you ask your ONE question, and flip down any faces you can, your turn is over.
If you are an expert on famous Greek people in history, here are some questions you may want to ask for this special GREEK VERSION of the game:
Is your person a…
When it is your turn again, and you think you have figured out who the MYSTERY person is, you may guess. Example: Is your person Archimedes? But don’t guess until you are sure, otherwise if your guess is wrong you will lose the game. If your guess is right you win the game. When you win you may slide your game counter over one point for each game you win. Begin a new game by flipping all your faces back up, and drawing a new MYSTERY card. The first player to win five games is the champion.
Roasted Chicken or Chickpea Gyros
Simple and delicious Mediterranean inspired vegetarian Roasted Chickpea Gyros with refreshing tzatziki sauce.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 4 people
- 1 15 oz can chickpeas or 1 ½ cup soaked chickpeas if starting from dry, drained and rinsed
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 Tbsp paprika*
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 rotisserie chicken, deboned, skin removed, and chicken cut into bite size chunks
- 6 pita flatbreads
- 1 cup tzatziki (see below) **This can be purchased ready-made. Look for it in the deli section at Walmart (they carry it at mine, so it is likely at yours as well)**
- 1/4 red onion cut into strips
- 2 lettuce leaves roughly chopped – I used baby spinach
- 1 tomato sliced – I used grape tomatoes sliced in half
- I sliced and chopped additional cucumber as a gyro topping
- Prep: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Pat dry chickpeas with paper towel, removing any skins that may come off. Gently toss chickpeas with oil, paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and salt. – I poured olive oil over the chickpeas in a zip bag, and then I mixed the spices together and sprinkled over the oiled chickpeas and tossed them in the zip bag to coat. This method worked very well!!!
- Roast: I oiled my baking sheet and let it get hot in the oven BEFORE I spread the chickpeas on it. Spread chickpeas onto greased rimmed baking sheet and roast for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned but not hard. I tested, tasted, tossed, and let my chickpeas bake for about another 10 minutes.
- Assemble: Spread some tzatziki onto one side of the pita, then sprinkle in ¼ of the chickpeas and add veggies. Fold in half and enjoy!
- *If you don’t like spicy foods, halve the amount of paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper. Taste a chickpea before baking and adjust flavors as needed. The yogurt does mellow the spiciness of the chickpeas.
- If your pita breads crack when you fold them, cover them with a moist paper towel and microwave for 20 to 30 seconds. Assemble your sandwich immediately after microwaving.
World’s Best Tzatziki Recipe
This is the best tzatziki recipe! Refreshing cucumber, creamy Greek yogurt, and zingy lemon make it the perfect condiment for just about everything.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 3 cups
- 2 cups plain Greek yogurt, can use dairy-free
- 1 cup shredded or diced cucumber
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice or white wine vinegar
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 Tbsp chopped dill
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Thicken yogurt: Strain yogurt using a cheesecloth or paper towel for 30 minutes to 3 hours to remove excess moisture (can skip this step if you’re in a hurry).
- Prep cucumber: Meanwhile, sprinkle a pinch of salt onto shredded or diced cucumber and spoon into cheesecloth or paper towels. Let sit for a few minutes then wring it out to draw out moisture.
- Mix: Mix together yogurt, cucumber, dill, garlic, and lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add a touch of extra-virgin olive oil for flavor and shine.
- Serve with pita, veggies, on Roasted Chickpea Gyros, or really anything!
- The flavors become less tangy as you let them sit, so your tzatziki might just be best the next day.
- 2 cups dry yellow split peas, rinsed
- 3/4 cup roughly chopped red onion
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 4-6 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Paprika for garnish (optional)
1. Place the split peas in a large saucepan with 5 cups of warm water. Set the burner to high heat and allow the mixture to come to a boil. Skim any foam that forms on the surface of the liquid, then add the red onion, scallion, and garlic. Return the liquid to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and cover the pot. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the peas are very tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Once the peas are tender, turn off the heat and add the olive oil and salt. Use an immersion blender to puree the mixture (or process in batches in a tabletop blender). Taste and add more salt as needed.
3. The fava will thicken as it cools. Serve topped with a generous drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of paprika; provide crusty bread and/or sliced vegetables for dipping.
This heavenly baklava combines honey-soaked layers of flaky phyllo pastry with spiced walnuts. It’s a great make-ahead dessert!
For the Baklava:
- 16 oz walnuts
- 1.5 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground cardamom (plus a pinch of ground cloves)
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 boxes phyllo dough* thawed
- 1 cup butter melted
For the Syrup:
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup good quality honey**
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 strip orange peel
- 1 strip lemon peel
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Pulse the walnuts in a food processor with the cinnamon, cardamom, and salt until well chopped.
- To assemble the baklava, place 8 layers of phyllo dough one-by-one on the bottom of a 9×13 baking pan, brushing each lightly with butter.
- Spread 1/5 of the walnut mixture evenly on top (about 2/3 cup).
- Add another 5 layers of phyllo one-by-one, brushing each with butter, then add another layer of nuts. The total sequence should be phyllo layers of 8,5,5,5,5,8, with nuts in between those layers.
- Carefully cut the Baklava into squares or triangles with a buttered knife.
- Bake the baklava for 50 minutes, until golden on the edges and tops.
- In the meantime, bring all the syrup ingredients to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce to a simmer for 5 minutes.
- Remove the citrus peels and cinnamon stick, and pour the hot syrup evenly over the hot baklava.
- Let the baklava cool completely at room temperature for 8 hours (uncovered, to prevent sogginess). Then it’s ready to enjoy!
- Can be served with chocolate syrup drizzled over the top of each slice.
*Note fifteenspatualas said: “My 1-lb box of phyllo said it had 18 13×18″ layers, so I cut them in half, and had 36 sheets total for my 9×13 pan.” but I (mrshlovesjesus) had a 10½” X 15½” pan and I used 1 1/2 boxes of Phyllo.
**I cannot overstate how important it is to use a good honey here. If it comes in a bear shape bottle, probably steer clear. Ideally look for raw honey.
Print the following schedule and have it handy to review as you conduct your party
11am Set-up and decorate classroom (food table), lawn loungers, put CD in boom box, set Olympic games stuff by back door (Remember to bring CAMERA and take pictures)
11:45am When children arrive have them take off their shoes at the door and “wash” their feet and hands with wet paper towels. Give them each a TOGA to put on and then let them pose and take Photo Booth pictures – serious faces and silly faces.
12:15pm Symposium (let the kids help themselves to gyros, fruits, nuts, and “wine,” and while they are eating introduce a few discussion starters that we can all talk about from my box of Table Talk cards. After the kids have eaten lunch let them get dessert – Baklava.
12:45pm Indoor games (Yoyos, Marbles, Knucklebones, Guess Who? Explain how each toy or game is played. Divide the group into sets of 2 or 3 kids. Give each group a toy/game to play with. After 5 or 10 minutes have each group rotate to the next toy)
1:30pm Crafts (make sandals & earrings) followed by Dancing to LouieLouie, and Twistin the Night Away. At the end of that give the youngest kid in the group the Olympic torch and let him/her lead us all to the playground for the games.
2:00pm Outdoor Olympic Games:
- Lunch box discus throw
- Pencil javelin throw
- Water-bottle weights long jump
- Alarm clock shot-put
- Foot Race (books stacked as hurdles) -or- Horse/chariot Race (stick horses)
- Thumb or Arm Wrestling
Demonstrate how each event is done and give each child a chance to practice a few times before competing.
Give the kids a Popsicle break after they’ve completed the series of events, and then after that we will conduct a Pentathlon where each kid will do the whole series of events by themselves to see who can complete it in the fastest time.
All competitors will be given a laurel wreath head garland in an awards ceremony.
3:15pm Kids will return to classroom and prepare for dismissal, while Gracee reads to them a few Aesop’s Fables.
PARTY TIPS: I don’t know about you, but I am usually so forgetful about taking pictures. I just get so busy keeping the party moving that I don’t think to stop and take pictures. I also often forget to eat and get to the end of the party so famished that all I want to do is collapse in exhaustion! So, if you are like me and want to have printed memories of your party, prearrange for someone to take pictures of everything from the table to the party itself – EVERYTHING, and also, make sure you eat something that will stick to your ribs BEFORE the party starts!!!!! So you have energy to be your best, joyous self.
“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
1 Corinthians 1:22-24 (KJV)
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