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Byzantine Empire Activities & Games

Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

The Byzantine Empire, which covered vast amounts of Europe and the Middle East for hundreds of years, is a significant and fascinating topic of study. In this lesson, teachers will learn about classroom games and activities designed to teach students about the Byzantine Empire.

The Byzantine Empire - Engaging Students

Keeping students interested in history can sometimes be difficult. Memorizing names and dates may be useful for testing purposes, but these facts rarely engage most learners. When you incorporate games and activities in your classroom as part of the learning process, students are better able to visualize, remember and enjoy content.

The activities in this lesson are designed to be supplemental to a larger unit about the Byzantine Empire. Students should already have a basic knowledge of the empire's workings, its rulers, and its role in history. Before using any of the activities below, be sure to adjust the difficulty level to meet your specific needs.

Who's the Best?

As your students should know, the Byzantine Empire was divided into dynasties. In this activity, small groups of students will choose a dynasty and put forth an argument as to why that particular dynasty was the best.

  1. Divide the students into teams of 3-4.
  2. Assign each team a particular dynasty. (If desired, you can allow teams to choose their own dynasties.)
  3. Students must research and create a 2-3 minute presentation that highlights the best of their assigned dynasty.

The presentation can take any form the team desires. For example, one team may choose to put on a dramatic or comedic play while another team may opt to show off their dynasty's artistic achievements.

As the teacher, you will judge and decide which team delivered the best presentation. You can also bring in other teachers to help you judge and award the winning team a prize.

Byzantine Money

This activity will allow your students to show off their creative sides as they design and make their own Byzantine inspired coins. There are numerous examples of Byzantine coinage available on the Internet, so be sure to show students several examples before letting them create their own. The following tips should help this process run smoothly.

  • Have students draw their designs on paper. Remember that the designs should be two-sided with one side featuring a human profile (either side or front of a face) and the back featuring some type of symbol.
  • If possible, have students fashion the final version of their coins out of clay (or play dough). A toothpick or other thin instrument can be used for carving.

Each student's artistic ability doesn't matter, the important thing is that they think about their design and are able to explain why they chose specific design elements. When the coins are complete, you can ask for volunteers to explain their creations to the class, then put the coins on display for others to enjoy.

Fool Us

This game will test your students' true knowledge of the empire.

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