Exploring Ancient Civilizations: Rome

Students explore the rise and fall of the ancient Roman Empire and Roman civilization, its various leaders, routines, and rituals, while practicing multiple informational reading strategies.



Unit 6

3rd Grade

This unit has been archived. To view our updated curriculum, visit our 3rd Grade English Language Arts course.

Unit Summary

In this unit, students explore the rise and fall of the ancient Roman Empire. Over the course of the unit, students learn about different characteristics of the Roman Empire, what led to the Empire’s growth and success, and what eventually led to the Empire’s demise. Through learning about the daily routines, structures, and rituals of the Roman Empire, students will be challenged to draw conclusions about what the civilization valued and how those values compare to societal values today. This unit builds onto the 2nd grade nonfiction unit on ancient Greece, in which students began to think about how the daily routines, structures, and rituals of a civilization show what they value. This unit, in conjunction with the second-grade unit on ancient Greece, will help students understand early influences in the world and the first republics.

The mentor texts for this unit, Ancient Rome and Pompeii: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House and Eye Wonder: Ancient Rome, allow students to practice multiple informational reading strategies in two very different text structures. In both texts, but predominantly in Eye Wonder, students practice using a multitude of text features and illustrations as a way of learning new information about a topic, including determining the main idea of the text. To understand key historical events, students think about the connection between events, particularly what happens and why. Over the course of this unit, students also think about how the information from one text builds on and connects to the information in the other text, using both texts to build a deeper understanding of the content. Then at the end of the unit, students will be asked to critically analyze the similarities and differences between the two texts, noticing how authors include different types of details.

Through a combination of daily and longer discussions, students learn how to prepare for class discussions, determining which evidence best supports a particular idea and how to elaborate on that evidence. By writing daily in response to the Target Task question, students begin to build their writing fluency, seeing the power of writing as a tool for understanding what they are reading. Lessons focused on crafting strong sentences also provide students with the tools for clearly articulating their ideas in writing. At the end of the unit, students have their first chance to write an informational text of their own, using the mentor texts as a guide. 

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Texts and Materials

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Core Materials


These assessments accompany this unit to help gauge student understanding of key unit content and skills.

Unit Prep

Intellectual Prep

Unit Launch

Before you teach this unit, unpack the texts, themes, and core standards through our guided intellectual preparation process. Each Unit Launch includes a series of short videos, targeted readings, and opportunities for action planning to ensure you're prepared to support every student.

Essential Questions

  • How did the city of Rome expand and grow? 
  • What was life like in the Roman Empire? What did the Romans value? 
  • What led to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire? 
  • What were some of the key contributions of Ancient Roman civilization? How have they influenced the present? 

Reading Focus Areas

  • Text features and graphic elements help readers locate and make sense of information.

  • To understand key events in a historical text, readers need to think about what happened and why.

  • The main idea is the central point or big picture understanding that the reader should get from the text.

  • Authors include different types of details in a text.

Writing Focus Areas

Informational Writing

  • Conduct short research projects to build knowledge.

  • Take notes and sort evidence into categories.

  • Introduce a topic and group related information together.

  • Develop the topic with facts.

  • Include illustrations and text features to aid in comprehension.

Speaking and Listening Focus Areas

  • Prepare for discussion.

  • Elaborate to support ideas. Provide evidence or examples to justify and defend a point clearly.

  • Use specific vocabulary. Use vocabulary that is specific to the subject and task to clarify and share their thoughts.



citizen conquer convenience decline disciplined efficient eternal eventually exquisite foreigner found hurl leisure overthrew privileges prosperous quarrel renowned republic resent rights rule siege slaughter sturdy timeless tragic triumph victorious


-ence -less -ous over-

To see all the vocabulary for Unit 6, view our 3rd Grade Vocabulary Glossary.

Content Knowledge and Connections

Previous Fishtank ELA Connections

Supporting All Students

In order to ensure that all students are able to access the texts and tasks in this unit, it is incredibly important to intellectually prepare to teach the unit prior to launching the unit. Use the intellectual preparation protocol and the Unit Launch to determine which support students will need. To learn more, visit the Supporting all Students teacher tool.

Lesson Map

Common Core Standards

Core Standards


Supporting Standards


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