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In Search of Ancient Ireland
Cartographer's Journey
Fortress Ireland
Culture and Commerce
About the Film
Lesson Plans

Related Resources

Language Arts
Visual Arts
Lesson Plans -- Lesson Plan Two
In this section:
Lesson Plan One
Lesson Plan Two

Overview Procedures for Teachers

Background Activities

Activity One

The purpose of this introductory activity is to provide students with background knowledge on Ireland. Students will also focus on varied ways to evaluate information sources.

1. Divide the students into small groups and ask each group to collect 15-20 facts on Ireland. Have the students record the source of their information next to each fact collected. Cut the paper into strips, each containing one fact.

2. As a class, generate a list of categories based on the facts the students have collected. These categories will serve to organize the information collected. Record these categories on a wall chart. Ask each group to paste its facts in the appropriate categories on the wall chart.

The following is a list of resources that students may use to begin researching:

3. As the students move through the lesson activities, encourage them to continue recording information about Ireland on the wall chart. Post this chart as a shared resource for further lesson activities.

4. After the wall chart is complete, ask each group to write a brief paragraph describing how it collected and categorized its information. Have each group share its paragraph with the class. Lead a class discussion on the following questions:
  • What were the most useful sources of information?
  • What would you do if you were to find conflicting information?
  • What were the most effective strategies for categorizing information?
  • What did you learn from your research about searching for information, summarizing information, and analyzing information?
5. Ask each group to select one information source that it found to be extremely helpful, and share it with the class. Have the students discuss the reasons for their selections, and compare similarities and differences in each group's choices. After all the groups have presented their favorites, create a class rubric for rating information sources. After completing their rubric, have the students visit the following Web site:

Cornell University Library:

Compare and contrast the class rubric with suggestions from this Web site.


Activity One

The purpose of this activity is to introduce students to "The Tain."

1. Read the following statement from the film to the students:

This is "The Tain," Ireland's best-known story, its heroes the source of much of Ireland's Celtic identity. The street parade is celebrating Cu Chulainn, bravest and best of warrior heroes. Irish history is steeped in folklore and myth, but the ancient Irish sagas were once thought to describe real people and real events, living in a pre-Christian Celtic Iron Age. Although now known to be mostly invention, the myths are what people remember, a heroic past woven from many stories ... In these tales are waves of invaders, both magical and human. The Fir Bolg, the Tuatha de Dannann, and the Sons of Mil, each in their turn sweeping across the sea to claim Ireland with sword and spear.

2. As a class, read the following account of the "Cattle Raid of Cooley" and the Irish hero Cuchulainn at the following Web site:

Create a story map highlighting key events. A story map is a visual representation of the events in a story. The purpose of a story map is to help students organize information in a text. The following is an example of a story map:

Story Map

3. Divide the class into small groups. Ask each group to create an artistic representation based on "The Cattle Raid of Cooley."

Some ideas that may be used include the following:
  • Shadow Puppets
  • Dioramas
  • Radio Show
  • Comic Strips
  • Mural
  • Illustrated Story Books
The following is a list of further information sources that may be used:

4. Each group should present its work to the entire class.

Activity Two

The purpose of this activity is to encourage students to research the rich culture of ancient Ireland.

1. Create a class museum on the topic of ancient Ireland. Divide the class into small groups. Ask each group to create an exhibit on its assigned topic. The exhibit should include visual aids. Below each group assignment is a list of Web sites that may be used to begin researching.

-- Group One: Artifacts of Ireland --

Ardagh Chalice

The Arthur Chalice & The Arthur Cross

Book Of Kells

Cross Of The Scriptures' at Clonmacnoise

-- Group Two: Music & Poetry --

-- Group Three: Irish Myths & Legends --

2. Invite classmates, parents, and community members to view the class exhibit if possible.

Activity Three

The purpose of this activity is to encourage students to explore different aspects of Ireland presented on the program's companion Web site.

1. Tell the students that you are going to create a news show on "Ancient Ireland."

2. Assign students to work in small groups to explore the five sections of the "Ancient Ireland" Web site. Each group is responsible for creating a report on its assigned section. The students may choose any aspect of the Web site section that is of interest to them.

Group One: Cartographer's Journey

Group Two: Fortress Ireland

Group Three: Religion

Group Four: Culture & Commerce

Group Five: Technology

3. Decide the order in which the groups will present their broadcasts. Present the news show to another class, and videotape if possible.

Extension Activities

Activity One

Explore the life of St. Patrick. The following list of Web sites may be used to begin researching:

Activity Two

Have the students respond to the following question in writing journals:
  • What role did monasteries play in Ireland's culture?
Activity Three

Ask the student to research the history of the Irish language. A good Web site to begin researching is: