Athlete trainer

Judean Village
A curriculum for mixed-age elementary grades by Dan Harper
Copyright (c) 2015 Dan Harper

The Athlete Trainer can lead a variety of games that would have been found in the Roman Empire of that time. We imagine that our trainer came from Greece, and so we use games similar to what might have been in ancient Grecian Olympics. For more on ancient Grecian games, see this Web site.

In our Judean Village, the Roman Soldier character makes frequent visits to the Athlete Trainer, to see if there are likely candidates for him to recruit for the Roman Army. Note that the typical term of recruitment for the Roman Army was on the order of twenty years — if you lived that long! — which may not sound compelling to us, but might sound compelling to a young person living in poverty in a village on the far reaches of the Roman Empire. At least in the Roman Army you generally got to eat, which may not be the case in a Judean village.


Discus throw

Use flying dics, such as the Frisbee brand flying disc, for discus throwing. Smaller flying discs seem to work best with kids, like the original Frisbee size. For a more authentic experience, have kids hold the flying disc like a discus: put hand on top of the disc with the palm in the center, wrap fingers around the outer edge.

Running events

Run both short races, and longer races. In ancient times, there would have been races in full armor — you could reproduce that by getting those soft five-pound weights that you Velcro around your ankles.


The long jump is the jump that would have been done by ancient Greeks.



Trigon: an ancient Roman game

(Based on the rules developed by Wladyslaw Jan Kowalski.)

Three players stand at the outer points of a triangle about 10 feet on each side. One or two scorekeepers keep score and judge uncatchable throws. (A player is called a called trigonalia. A scorekeeper is called a pilecripus.)

Starting with one small foam ball, one player begins by throwing LEFT-HANDED to the player on the right. That player catches the ball with the RIGHT HAND, switches the ball to the LEFT HAND, and throw to the third player. And so on, around the triangle.

Changing the direction of the rotation: Players may BAT THE BALL with either hand back to the player who threw it to them. That changes the direction of the rotation, until someone else bats the ball back at whoever threw it to them.

Time out: A player may hold the ball at any time to pause the play for up to 10 seconds.

— If a player throws or bats an uncatchable ball, as judged by the scorekeepers, the person to whom the ball was thrown gets one point.
— If a player does not catch a ball, or is unable to bat it back to the thrower, the thrower gets a point.

The first player to reach 12 points wins.

Hoop rolling

Children in the Roman Empire rolled hoops. For a modern version of a hoop, use a small Hula Hoop. To keep the hoop rolling, children use short sticks to tap it and move it forward.

For a competitive event, have races rolling hoops.