The Alphabet is Historic

The Western alphabet.
Photo caption

The Western alphabet.

The youngest and newest writers often have a deep interest in the origin of writing itself. The lessons in this curriculum unit will introduce young students to the history of our alphabet. First, students will learn about the Phoenicians, the great trading people of the eastern Mediterranean who invented many of our letters. We'll follow as the Phoenicians taught their alphabet to the ancient Greeks, and follow again as the Greeks taught their alphabet to the Romans. Finally, we'll learn that the Romans left their alphabet to us, and that we use the Roman alphabet to write in English.

By following this path through history we can establish a connection between these ancient civilizations and the youngest writers. We can show them that they are using the alphabet that was developed so long ago. The three lessons in this curriculum unit include short historical introductions to the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans, hyperlinks to selected illustrations, and suggestions for activities.

Guiding Questions

Where does the alphabet come from?

Learning Objectives

Describe how first the Phoenicians, then the Greeks, and finally the Romans passed down the alphabet.

Compare some letters from the earlier alphabets to our alphabet, and talk about how the alphabet changed over time.

Recognize the Mediterranean area on a map and show that the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans came from the Mediterranean area.

Describe two or three basic features of each of these cultures.

Complete some short writing and art assignments based on the alphabets.