Biblical, Literary, Historical, and Mythical Allusions 

Teaching Biblical. Literary, Historical, and Mythical Allusions to Upper Elementary Students

Have your students ever asked you about the meanings of mythical allusions such as these?

  • Resisting chocolate is my Achilles heel.
  • Cupid strikes again.
  • Money brings us happiness but sometimes it is a Pandora’s Box.
  • All his shops are extremely profitable. He has the Midas touch.
  • Is his plan a Trojan horse that will end the good life?


How about these biblical allusions?

  • David is being a Good Samarian.
  • We celebrated the Prodical Son‘s return.
  • You have the Patience of Job.


Do you students wonder about these literary allusions?

  • I’m no Pollyanna, but I do think some good will come out of this.
  • Our city needs Batman.
  • Don’t be such a Scrooge; buy me a milkshake.


Some students may even wonder about these historical allusions.

  • She is Mother Teresa when she comes to the orphanage.
  • Her lie slowly unraveled like Watergate.
  • Because of the pay cut, our family is living through the Great Depression.
  • We owed Uncle Sam $2000.


The Common Core State Standards states fourth graders need to be able to “Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including those that allude to significant characters found in mythology (e.g., Herculean).”

This free lesson provides several activities to help students become aware of some of the mythical, biblical, literary, and historical allusions found in the world around them.

Hook – Mythical Allusions in Logos

Allusions between Greek Mythology and Everyday Life

This activity requires students to match three cards. The first contains a company’s logo. The second contains the name of the company and its product. The final card provides a description of the origin of the company’s name. This matching activity leads to a discussion that explains how many phrases we use in day-to-day conversations come from mythology.

Does your school limit printable copies? Don’t worry! Both printable and digital versions are available.

Lesson Activity 

Mythical, Biblical, Literary, and Historical Allusions  Free Practice

In the lesson activity, students will use context clues to determine the meanings of the mythological, biblical, literary, and historical allusions. Students will also use allusions in sentences.

Be sure to download the printable version as it has the answer keys.

You can download the printable version here. You can download the digital version here



Extension Activities 

#1 Youtube Videos

Greek Allusions 4th Grade – YouTube

Greek Mythology and Allusions

Allusions to Greek Myths in popular music by Mrs. Rodd

Free Mini-Lesson for Arachne the Spinner

#2 Free Lessons using Greek Myths

These blog posts include free printable versions of the stories. Included vocabulary practice, comprehension questions, and a writing prompt make each myth a lesson that will be enjoyed.


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  1. I love this lesson. It’s so clever! Thank you.

    1. Thank you!

    • Sandy Cangelosi on February 25, 2020 at 8:18 pm

    Thank you, Gay! You always provide great information.

    1. Thank you!

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