The Greek myth Daedalus and Icarus is perfect for teaching a number of Common Core literature standards. Read the myth. Then enjoy the mini-lesson covering vocabulary, comprehension questions, and writing. Look for a link to the handout at the bottom of the post.
Daedalus wanted to honor the newborn princess with a special gift. He created a mechanical bird that chirped when the sun rose. This was quite a gift in the age of using sun dials to tell time. Everyone who saw the mechanical bird was amazed. King Minos came to Daedalus and asked if he could help with a special project. He was seeking a way to keep the Minotaur imprisoned. This half-bull and half-man creature was dangerous.
Daedalus came up with an idea. He built a giant labyrinth to hold the Minotaur. When King Minos saw this invention, he was pleased. King Minos decided to lock Daedalus and his young son Icarus in a tower. This way King Minos could make sure that no one else received any of Daedalus’s inventions. After a while, Icarus wanted to leave the tower. Daedalus could not see a way because the king kept a strict watch. Daedalus told his son, “Minos may control the land and sea, but not the regions of the air. I will try that way.”
As Daedalus watched the seagulls, a plan came to mind. He began working on a set of wings. Daedalus shaped feathers together beginning with the smallest and adding larger. He secured the larger ones with thread and the smaller feathers with wax. Before long, he had built wings of a bird. When the work was done, he tried out the wings. Daedalus found he could lift himself in the air. Next he built wings for his son in the same manner and taught him how to fly.
When all was ready for flight, Daedalus said, “Icarus, my son, you must be careful, for if you fly too low the damp sea spray will clog your wings. If too high the heat will melt the wings. Keep near me, and you will be safe.” While he gave Icarus these instructions and fitted the wings to his shoulders, the face of the father was wet with tears, and his hands trembled. He kissed his son, not knowing that it was for the last time. Then rising on his wings he flew off, encouraging Icarus to follow. Daedalus looked back from his own flight and found Icarus managed his wings well.
As they flew, many stopped to watch. After a while Icarus left his father and began flying higher and higher. Soon the blazing sun softened the wax which held the feathers together, and they came off. He fluttered with his arms, but with no feathers, he began to fall. Icarus cried out to his father as he sank into the sea. His father cried back, “Icarus, Icarus, where are you?” At last he saw the feathers floating on the water.
Daedalus buried his son and called the sea Icaria in his memory. Daedalus safely arrived in Sicily. There he built a temple to the sun god, Apollo. In the temple, he hung up his wings as an offering to the god.
Daedalus and Icarus Youtube Video (The Story using Legos)
This handout includes a printable version of the story. You will also find vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, and a writing prompt.