Teaching Children about “The Ides of March”

On March 15th many people say, “Beware the Ides of March!”
–Drawing from Jupiter Images

After the highly trafficked Leap Year post (especially from many of you educators and home-schooling parents), I figured I’d post a little something on The Ides of March. We know your children are asking “what is the Ides of March?” You’ll have all the answers ready to the following questions:

(1) What is the Ides of March?

(2) What does Beware the Ides of March mean?

(3) Where does the saying “Beware the Ides of March” come from?

(4) How do people use the expression “Beware the Ides of March” today?

(5) What is a proverb?

(6) What is a superstition?

What is “The Ideas of March?” The Romans called March 15th “The Ides of March.” Originally, the “ideas” referred to the full moon.

What does “Beware the Ides of March” mean? It means, be aware of impending danger.

Where did the saying come from? The saying, “Beware the Ides of March” came from William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar. In the play, a soothsayer says “Beware the Ideas of March” to Julius Caesar to warn him that this was to be his assassination day.

Julius Caesar was assassinated on March 15, 44BC by Roman Senators who were concerned that he had too much power. Rome was a Republic and these Roman Senators did not want anyone to disrupt what they had built. However, after Julius Caesar’s assassination, Rome was saddened by his death. The senators were banished and the republic was never restored to its previous glory.

How do people use the expression now? “Beware the Ides of March” is now a proverb, superstition and a phrase that warns of impending danger and unfortunate events.

What’s a proverb? A proverb is a saying that contains advice or accepted truth. They are passed down through generations. Common proverbs are; “Look before you leap,” “don’t count your chickens before they hatch” and “don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

What’s a superstition? A superstition is a belief that a particular thing, event or circumstance holds some kind of significance that something going to happen (bad or good) even though it’s not based on knowledge or reason. This belief can be based on fear, ignorance, trust in magic, coincidence, or a prior experience with a similar situation. Some common superstitions are; breaking a mirror can cause bad luck, finding a 4-leaf clover can bring good luck, stepping on a crack in the sidewalk can “break your mother’s back” or cause bad luck, the number 13 can bring you bad luck, and finding a string on your person means your going to get a letter.

Activities related to the Ides of March:

(1) Dust off the play, Julius Caesar, and act them out!

(2) Find out if any local theaters are performing Julius Caesar and take your older school-age children.

(3) Make an art project out of a proverb or superstition. For example, cut our of draw pictures from a magazine and make a collage (i.e. black cats, the number 13, salt shaker). You can draw a line down the center of the collage and put good luck superstitions on one side (i.e. find a penny, salt over your shoulder) and bad luck superstitions (break a mirror, steeping on sidewalk cracks) on the other.

(4) Make a list of superstitions and proverbs with your students or children. Then have them categorize these superstitions and proverbs into categories as suggested by the following website. What are the similarities and the differences? Where did these superstitions come from anyway?

(5) Talk about when you have all had “good-luck” or “bad luck.” What puts the odds in one’s favor for good luck or bad luck? Does attitude, gratitude, and goal-setting make a difference?

As a Powerful Parent or Educator who works with the Powerful Words Character System, we know that strong character and a positive attitude does indeed make a difference! We need to remind our children that it’s all how you look at a situation– superstitions make us feel “out of control” while positive thinking, strong character and goal-setting makes us feel “in-control.” Perhaps this is the best lesson you can teach a child on the Ides of March.

Have a fun day!