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G is for Gladiator Review by Hillary Harm

Debbie and Michael Shoulders
Sleeping Bear Press
315 E. Eisenhower Parkway, Suite 200
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

G is for Gladiator is a picture book with a very familiar format among homeschoolers. Colorful pages guide the reader through basic information about ancient Rome, with margin notes providing more detail on the various topics.

Using the alphabet as a framework, topics are introduced using short poems on an illustrated page. Topics in the book revolve around ancient Rome, such as: A is for Archaeologist, C is for Crimes and Courts, J is for Jupiter and Juno. The short poems provide a bit of an explanation about basic topics, and are written at a second or third grade reading level. Paragraphs in the margins provide more detail, and are written at a higher reading level. Margin notes would most likely be read to the child by the parent.

In our home, this book was a good companion to our history studies. We were able to read it slowly, over the course of two to three days, enjoying the pictures, but also reading and discussing the margin notes. Any page could be a springboard for further research or art projects.   For example, if a parent chose to do a unit study of Rome, this book could be a hub around which their preferred elementary studies could rotate. I could see a creative parent coming up with many ideas for projects, reports, and crafts using the topics in G is for Gladiator.   

A teacher's guide can be found on the publisher's website. Parents do not need to purchase the book in order to print the pages in the teacher's guide. The teacher's guide consists of Rome-centric worksheets that can be given to the student. Here are examples of some of the content:   Roman vocabulary crossword,   a project asking the student to design a travel brochure for ancient Rome or design a Roman coin, Roman numerals, short essay topics, a timeline activity, and a worksheet exploring the geography of Italy.

G is for Gladiator is a good introduction to ancient Rome for an elementary student, but is by no means exhaustive. Topics are many and varied, but never discussed in depth or exhaustively.  

G is for Gladiator would be an enjoyable book as a supplement for your at-home study on ancient Rome or as a springboard to a larger unit study.

Product Review by Hillary Harm, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August, 2010