Teacher's  Guide Lesson Plans
The Queen of Sheba
King Arthur
Jason & the Argonauts

The Queen of Sheba

Michael Wood explores the history behind some of the most well-known myths in the world. He traces the history of the story of the Queen of Sheba and chronicles the different versions of the legend that exist in various cultures. This 3,000-year-old story is referenced directly in the Hebrew Bible and the Muslim Koran. The people of Ethiopia believe that the Queen of Sheba is the reason they possess the Ark of the Covenant. Wood's long journey through the Red Sea Region documents the historical aspects of the story of the Queen of Sheba.

Grade Level

Subject Areas
Language Arts, Mythology, World History, Religion, and Geography

Lesson Objectives
Students will be able to:

  1. Participate in a brainstorming session and class discussion where they share what they know about the story of the Queen of Sheba and the basic characteristics of myths.
  2. Practice map reading, interpretation, and plotting skills along with their knowledge of geography to discuss the historical and cultural aspects of the story of the Queen of Sheba.
  3. Utilize a graphic organizer to compare how different cultures describe the Queen of Sheba and continue to incorporate this myth into their storytelling and religious beliefs.
  4. Conduct research from other primary sources to learn more about how the cultures represented in the film continue to pass on the story of the Queen of Sheba as part of their cultural and religious teachings.
  5. Produce creative projects about the Queen of Sheba and present their work to the class.

Relevant National Standards from Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McRel) available at http://www.mcrel.org

Historical Understanding

Standard 2: Understands the historical perspective.


The World in Spatial Terms
Standard 1: Understands the characteristics and uses of maps, globes, and other geographic tools and technologies.
Standard 2: Knows the location of places, geographic features, and patterns of the environment.

Places and Regions
Standard 4: Understands the physical and human characteristics of place.
Standard 5: Understands the concept of regions.

Uses of Geography
Standard 17: Understands how geography is used to interpret the past.

Language Arts

Standard 4: Gathers and uses information for research purposes.

Standard 7: Uses reading skills and strategies to understand a variety of information texts.

Listening and Speaking:
Standard 8: Uses listening and speaking strategies for different purposes.

Standard 9: Uses viewing skills and strategies to understand and interpret visual media.

Thinking and Reasoning:

Standard 3: Effectively uses mental processes that are based on identifying similarities and differences.

Working With Others

Standard 4: Displays effective interpersonal communication skills.

Estimated Time
Approximately two 90-minute or three to four 45-minute class periods

Materials Needed

  • Internet access
  • Photocopies of maps for the Red Sea Region
  • Graphic Organizer Worksheet
  • Television/VCR/DVD to view the "Myths and Heroes: Queen of Sheba" episode (Visit PBS Shop for ordering information)
  • Access to Internet and library resources for the completion of project research
  • Assorted art/craft supplies and multi-media presentation software for creation of projects (optional depending on the type of project assigned by the teacher)

Assumed Student Prior Knowledge
Students will need to have a basic understanding of the terms myth and legend. They will also need to understand historical references such as B.C. as it is used many times to create a timeline of events. Knowing that the Ark of the Covenant is a box that reportedly contains the marble tablets given to Moses on Mt. Sinai is also important to student understanding of Sheba's importance in the religious world, particularly in Ethiopia.

Teaching Strategy

  1. Create student interest by accessing the "Myths and Heroes" section of the companion website at "http://www.pbs.org/mythsandheroes/myths_four_sheba.html". View the video clip of Michael Wood's visit to Jerusalem so students can be introduced to the various ways that The Queen of Sheba has been portrayed and viewed in various cultures.
  2. Facilitate a short discussion about what students already know about this particular story. Ask them to provide as many details as possible. Record this brainstorming on the board or overhead so all students can see what has been contributed.
  3. Distribute a copy of a map of the Red Sea Region such as the one available at http://www.geocities.com/brianshouse/BRIANSANNEX/redsea.html#redseamap , point out the countries that will be the focus of the story of the Queen of Sheba. Discuss the general geography of the area so students can understand why Sheba's empire was considered so rich. Have students keep the map for future reference and use while viewing.
  4. Using the What is a Myth link on the companion website at http://www.pbs.org/mythsandheroes/myths_what.html, discuss some of the basic characteristics of a myth including ideas such as:
    • myths are passed down for many years
    • myths are often changed to reflect the culture of the people telling the story
    • myths have certain characteristics and types of characters that make them memorable stories
    • myths can be changed over time as a result of the growth of new civilizations, globalization, and a greater understanding of the physical world
    • myths originate from many different cultures but have common themes
  5. Distribute the Graphic Organizer Worksheet and explain that students will be using this to compare the various stories each culture has regarding the Queen of Sheba. Direct students to make note of details about the Queen of Sheba story as it is told in each different culture represented in the film.
  6. As a class, view The Queen of Sheba episode. While viewing, have students: NOTE: Stop the film at regular intervals to allow students to record details related to Sheba as she is portrayed in each of the cultures presented in the film and for students to correctly map the various areas visited by Michael Wood as he searched for the history of the Queen of Sheba.
  7. Once viewing is complete, have students compare how the different cultures followed in the film regard the Queen of Sheba by discussing the information recorded on the Graphic Organizer Worksheet. It may be helpful to provide students with a copy of Michael Wood's article "The Queen of Sheba," to assist with this discussion. The article is available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ancient/sheba_01.shtml
  8. Discuss Michael Wood's journey to search out the history of Sheba and her empire. Facilitate a discussion about the map including questions such as:
    • How could the growth of civilizations and the geography of the area have influenced how Sheba was viewed in these countries as the myth was passed down over time?
    • In the story, Sheba was a wealthy, powerful woman who ruled a vast, rich empire. On the map, discuss the area that could have been her kingdom and why it would have been considered rich at that time in history.
    • While the countries of the Red Sea Region are close to one another, their stories about the Queen of Sheba and her significance in the culture and religion varies greatly. Discuss some geographic reasons for these variances.
  9. Using additional resources such as those listed in the "Related Resources" section below, have students conduct research about the story of the Queen of Sheba in the Israeli, Arabian, or Ethiopian culture. Students should create a project that represents the role of the Queen of Sheba within the culture. Encourage students to use creative means to share what they have learned including art (collage, drawing, painting), music (a song), poetry, or multi-media (a PowerPoint type of presentation) to provide the class with details about:
    • Sheba's physical characteristics
    • Sheba's personality
    • Sheba's role in religion
    • Sheba's relationship with Solomon
    • Sheba as a ruler/leader
    • Other interesting information/details about Sheba
  10. Once projects have been completed, students should share their work with the class by explaining artwork, performing songs, reading poetry, or presenting their PowerPoint show. When making presentations, students should clearly indicate which culture they are representing before beginning.

Assessment Suggestions

  1. Students could receive participation scores/grades for involvement in class brainstorming and discussion activities.
  2. Students could receive completion or accuracy grades for their work on the Graphic Organizer Worksheet and completion of the mapping activity of Wood's travels.
  3. Students should receive individual grades on the creation and presentation of their individual projects based on a scoring guide created by the teacher or the class.
  4. Students could complete self and peer evaluations to assess the quality of their individual projects and provide one another with feedback about the content and presentation of these projects.

Extension Ideas

  1. View portions of the 1959 Hollywood movie Solomon and Sheba and discuss how the modern American version of the story differs from what has traditionally been passed down in the Arab and African versions of the story.
  2. Examine the role of Sheba as a powerful woman. Compare and contrast her qualities and characteristics to the strong women that appear in the ancient myths of other cultures. Discuss the role of women in mythology, particularly as they appeared in leadership roles.

Online Resources

In Search of Myths and Heroes PBS companion site to the program http://www.pbs.org/mythsandheroes

The Story of Africa: Christianity

Makeda: Queen of Sheba

Africa: Explore the Regions: Ethiopian Highlands Folkore

Wonders of the African World: The Holy Land


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