I borrowed a project from Tricia Fuglestad: Greek Vases, based on red-figure and black-figure painted bases. She did hers with student-created mythological figures and they are terrific. I have printouts, but I'm sorry, I can't find which season they were featured on her Artsonia (Dryden Elementary) right now. I don't think Artsonia searches by topic yet.
Painted vases were used as trophies for competitions: musical as well as athletic. I liked the idea of art as an award and of the arts being recognized as a highly valuable field of endeavor in the same realm as competitive sport. The trophy vase would show heroes in the same competition being awarded, such as harp players for a music composition.
Because we are working on Everyday Heroes schoolwide -- anti-bullying, etc. -- we are illustrating Heroes. Some students are drawing more traditional heroes such as Hercules or a gladiator, some chose their parents, doctors, crossing guards, firefighters, military people. (No anti-bullies yet! No Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., yet, either. I'll work on my intro!)
I did make amphora, krater, and hydria vase templates to save time. We're using alpha-biggie tempera blocks for rich color and ease. Students who want their piece to look more ancient will use brown, red, black and white. Others will use a limited palette of colors of their choice.
I'm doing this with 5th, but it would be even better in 6th. It is in our figure-drawing unit, proportions are expected to be good, people are in profile and in an action pose, and students are combining original ideas for border patterns (little microphones for Justin B., pencils for the art teacher) with ancient border patterns so that they experience Greek aesthetic. Students learned about attributes, the art word for special symbols that go with famous figures such as Athena's owl and helmet. We discussed shapes and purposes of vases. The discussion can go very deep into Greek culture, literary symbols, the role of art in passing cultural values to people who may not read (such as stained-glass windows in the medieval Church), etc.