The Legend of King Midas
Our read-aloud version of a Greek myth drives home the dangers of greed.
This fun read-aloud version of a classic Greek myth will help students identify the play’s theme, or big idea.
The Big Idea
The big idea, theme, vocabulary, fluency, close reading, character, how character changes, main idea and supporting details, explanatory writing
This article and lesson support the following standards:
Common Core anchor standards: R.1, R.2, R.3, R.4, W.2, SL.1, SL.2, L.4, L.6
TEKS: 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5, 3.7, 3.20, 3.29, 3.30
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Preview Text Features (5 minutes)
• As students look at the play’s opening, point out the labels in the top left corner of page 20. (“Play” and “Read-aloud myth.”) Ask: What is a myth? (a traditional story that teaches a lesson or explains something) Explain that many myths, including this one, came from Ancient Greece and are thousands of years old. Point out Greece on a map.
(10 minutes, activity sheet online)
• While the story does not include vocabulary words in the text itself, there is a vocabulary activity online that previews challenging words and allows students to list the words that are unfamiliar to them. Project or distribute the activity to go over the words.
• Challenging words: ancient, flee, flecks.
Set a Purpose for Reading
• Call on a volunteer to read the Think and Read box on page 20 for the class.
Bridging Decoding and Comprehension
• Storyworks Jr. plays provide a perfect opportunity for students to build fluency.
• Model reading with expression by reading aloud Scene 1 for the class. Ask students what they noticed about how punctuation such as question marks and exclamation points affected how you read the lines.
• Look at Scene 1 together. Point out exclamation points and question marks and ask students how they would read those lines. Ask: What does punctuation tell you about what to do with your voice?
Reading and Unpacking the Text
• First read: Read the play as a class.
• Second read: Project or distribute the close-reading questions. Discuss them as a class, rereading lines or scenes as necessary.
• Separate students into groups to discuss the critical-thinking question. Then have groups share their answers with the class.
Close-Reading Questions (20 minutes, activity sheet online)
• In Scene 1, how does King Midas treat his daughter, Marigold? (character) King Midas treats his daughter as if he cares less about her than about his gold.
• In Scene 2, Bacchus says, “King Midas, whose heart is cold . . ..” What does he mean by this? (figurative language) He means that Midas is uncaring.
• In Scene 3, Midas turns Marigold’s roses to gold. What does Midas think about the gold roses? What does Marigold think about them? (character) Midas thinks they are better because they’re worth money now. Marigold doesn’t like them because they’ve lost their color, smell, and softness.
• In Scene 4, when does Midas start to realize that his golden touch is a bad thing? (main idea and supporting details) He realizes that it’s bad when he tries to eat and drink and cannot.
• In Scene 5, why does Midas ask Bacchus to reverse the spell? (theme) Midas has realized that there are things more important than gold, such as his daughter. He doesn’t want to continue turning everything to gold because he cares more about other things.
Critical-Thinking Question (7 minutes, activity sheet online)
• Midas changes over the course of the play. What lesson does he learn, and how does this change him? (theme, how character changes) Midas learns that it’s bad to be greedy, and that there are more important things in life than gold. He changes from a greedy person to a person who appreciates the important things in life. In the end, he treats Marigold better and shares his gold with everyone.
Exploring the Big Idea (15 minutes, activity sheet online)
• Have students complete the big idea activity. They should also write a response to the Think and Write question on p. 25.
A longer version
This gorgeously illustrated version of the tale of King Midas, King Midas and the Golden Touch by Charlotte Craft, will enthrall your students. They’ll be interested to see the differences between our telling and this longer one.
The Legend of King Midas is all about greed and its consequences. This topic is great for either a writing exercise or a class discussion. Ask students: Have they ever gotten too greedy? What did they learn from the experience?
If your students are curious about Greek mythology after our brief mention of Mount Olympus, they’ll devour this amazing book: Treasury of Greek Mythology: Classic Stories of Gods, Goddesses, Heroes & Monsters by Donna Jo Napoli.
Once your students have read the story, ask them what they think the idiom “the Midas touch” means—as in “He has the Midas touch.” (Answer: It means he has the ability to make a lot of money, as Midas could have when everything he touched turned to gold.)
Opening Midas' tomb
Here’s authentic footage of excavators in Gordium (also spelled Gordion) back in the 1950s as they’re opening Midas’ tomb and discovering the items he was buried with. (Best to jump to the second half of the video, at the 2:25 mark, when they’re in the tomb.)