Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ancient Rome (Unit Resources)

Things to Cover:

Wow! There is a lot to cover when doing a unit about Ancient Rome, but it is all pretty interesting too.  You'll want to discuss the important historical highlights like the existence of the republic and the rise and fall of the empire.  Geographical aspects like important landmarks such as the Colosseum, Pantheon, and Forum in Rome.  You also won't want to forget the far-flung landmarks such as Roman Aqueducts and amphitheaters throughout the empire as well as Hadrian's Wall.  The remains these masters left behind can all be a part of impressing upon your kids the incredible building skills and technology at Roman disposal (not to mention the reach of their influence).  Along those same lines, study of bath house construction can make the comforts of the Roman lifestyle seem pretty amazing and tell kids a little bit about the day to day life of some Romans at the height of the Empire's dominance.  Any student of any age can be introduced to the food and clothing the Romans typically ate and wore, along with many of the cultural regularities.  For example, how did education work?  What did they eat?  How did the spend their time?  Did they play games?  Every kid that speaks English, Spanish, Italian or French will find a lesson in Latin root words useful as they build a vocabulary in their Latin - Based language.  Many historical figures can be introduced, but especially Julius Caesar can't be forgotten.  Asking your more mature kids to do a study of characters like Julius Caesar, Brutus, Octavius and Mark Antony can lead to some very thought-provoking questions and discussion.  On the more somber side, what of the conquered people?  What happened to the people and cultures of the brutally conquered such as the Dacians?  How did the cultures of the Celts, Egyptians, Greeks and other neighbors influence Roman culture?  Of course, religious or not, one can't forget the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire and the impact on World History both the Roman Empire and Christianity has had.  And that is the SHORT LIST!

Here are just SOME of the wonderful resources we accessed in our studies (or that I previewed and may not have used with Alice because of her age and my objectives, but that might be useful to use based on your objectives and the age of the child/children you are teaching.

Lessons and Activities From PinchxEverything:

Although I have listed many of the online resources we have used throughout the unit below, my blarticles sometimes have additional resources related only to the specific subject matter of the individual lesson.  For example, if you are looking for resources about Roman Food and Feasting, you'll want to check out the lesson blarticle "Have a Roman Feast" OR if you want to compare beam and arch construction (and access the video that was incorporated in that lesson) you'll want to check out "Breaking Bridges".

Have a Roman Feast - Some of the things (including recipes) you need to know to host an authentic (and sugar free) Roman Feast - including how to make cheesecake without sugar!

What the Romans Wore - Incorporate this BEFORE your feast and dress the part while you celebrate the Empire's Bounty.
What's a Keystone? Sponge Craft - Help your kids grasp what an arch is and it's most important piece of anatomy, the keystone.  Great way to make the vocabulary words, arch and keystone a bit more "concrete" for them (I know its a cheesy joke - I used to tell my students it was my job to teach them what cheesy jokes are - by telling them).

Build a Roman Arch - This is just a model of a Roman arch but will give your kids an idea of what an arch is and why they needed a "form" to build them.  This lesson is a great one to do alongside, "What's a Keystone?".  We built the arches first and Alice had a really hard time grasping the position to place her stones in.  If we had done the keystone arch first, her stone arch may have held up better and the construction may have gone more smoothly.

Closely related is the lesson, "Breaking Bridges" - Beam vs. Arch Construction to demonstrate why the arch is so important in architecture and why it helped make the Roman's such great builders.

10 ideas for Historical Writing - Not all of these ideas are applicable to Rome, but most can be used with this unit to encourage your child to write.  A couple might be GREAT for your highschool kids, "Heroes and Martyrs" for example.

How the Romans Counted - a brief lesson about Roman Numerals (and resource links for those that need or want to spend more time with this number system.

The Story of Remus and Romulus - Links to the story online including an animated version, as well as a brief description of how to use the story and overlap with Language Arts objectives for a variety of age groups.

Myths - Why the Romans Told these Stories
This activity teaches kids to use a Venn Diagram while the compare a Roman Myth to an ancient Babylonian Myth.  There is also a Greek version of the tale.  All the Myths explain the occurrence of the seasons.  Use this activity to jump into reading more Myths once they've been introduced.

Ancient Romans: Master Builders -  Links to videos and activities about various structures of Ancient Rome, why they were built and video about how they were built and Roman building technoloy.

Ancient Romans: Greek Admirers - This lesson is mostly about the Myths of Ancient Rome and how many of those Myths and the art of the Romans reflected Greek sensibilities.  After this lesson, it can be a lot of fun to have kids write their own myths as a follow up.  They might write an explanation as to why children's teeth fall out, or where hiccups come from, or some other such topic that is really close to their hearts as children.  Whatever they right, it will probably be a lot of fun.

Ancient Romans: Artists - 5 different art projects inspired by the Romans.

Roman Neighbors - a listing of resources about the various enemies of Rome.

A Visit to an Antiquities Collection - Photographic Scavenger Hunt for items from Ancient Greece, Rome, Etrusca and Byzantium.

A Final Lesson Idea Suggestion:

Listen to "The Story of Rome and Julius Caesar" a track or two at a time - Complete lessons along the way.  The album is narrated by Jim Weiss and is a great way to introduce this pivotal part of World History.  After each track, have the kids respond to that part of the story with discussion, artwork and writing prompts that pertain to the story of the events leading up to Caesar's assassination and the rise of Caesar Augustus.  Make sure to talk about the story as one perspective and compare it to how someone on Caesar's enemies side might have told the story - for older kids that can provide a good writing activity idea.  Fold the album in amongst other lessons - especially if you have younger kids - and take it one piece of the story at a time.

Great Books and Print Resources:

DK publishing's Eyewitness Series
has books about Ancient China, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome that are all wonderfully dense with visual information accompanied by concise bits of text.  They are clearly designed to speak to the more visual generation.  These visual encyclopedias also come with a CD for your computer packed with clip art, photos and more.

Understanding Roman Myths - Robin Johnson
This is a standard non-fiction book with insets, images and text beautifully balanced to tell the story of Rome through its myths.  The way history is interspersed with myth and "Links to Today" is a nice touch that adds interest and ties all the information together in a modern way and adds an engaging touch.

A Visitor's Guide to the Ancient World - Dr. Anne Millard
This book is a humorous take on a travel guide as though the modern boy or girl might actually travel back to ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome.  With tourist tips and information about everything from what clothes to buy as soon as you can find the first market so you'll fit in, to party etiquette and what to eat and what to avoid this book really will give kids a pretty good picture of what it might be like if they were to travel back in time and visit any of these ancient cultures.  The book as a whole is probably best used with 4th grade kids and up (humor really is aimed at upper elementary), but one could pick and choose amongst the pages to offer a few highlights up for a younger child as well.

A Pocket Dictionary of Roman Emperors - Paul Roberts
This pocket dictionary (that isn't quite small enough for MOST pockets, but is quite small) really does provide a quick look and easy reference about the highlights (and low lights) of each of the Roman Emperors.  The book is organized chronologically but has a quick guide if you need to do an alphabetical search as well make it super easy to use.  Descriptions are brief, but cover the basics.  I warn you, this book is quite blunt and the author didn't seem to hold back at all when it comes to some of the horrors inflicted on the people by emperors like Caligula, Nero and Commodus.

National Geographic Investigates: Ancient Rome - Zilah Dekker 
Alice and I read this whole book in one day (which is pretty amazing in terms of a six-year-old's attention span - I usually break up non-fiction books that are written for an older audience into chapters or sections).  She liked it and found if very interesting.  I guess the sub-topics changed often enough and the pictures were engaging enough that it maintained her interest all on its own (she DOES LOVE history).

The Roman World from Iron Age Europe to the Fall of the Roman Empire - Tony Allan
This book is a great one to use as a reference for a time-line for the Italian Peninsula  BEFORE Rome became more than a city state AND to learn a little something about how Rome's expansion changed the Roman citizen and how they changed the conquered.

Step Into. . . The Roman Empire - Philip Steele
This is a book full of more wonderful craft ideas to use in your study of Rome (like building an aqueduct model or a model of a Roman Villa).  We got our recipe for the honeyed dates for our feast from this book.

The Roman Mysteries:  http://www.romanmysteries.com/
Alice was hooked right away!  The language in this Historical Fiction series is simple enough for a child with an 8+ vocabulary to understand what is happening and enjoy reading the books.  The main characters include four children that offer up a variety of viewpoints from differing cultures that would have existed in Ancient Rome.  One is an upper-middle class girl (daughter of a ship's captain), one is Son of a Jewish Doctor, one is a slave from Afric and the fourth a mute beggar.  The four kids have adventures together while solving mysteries that take place in ancient Roman cities such as Rome, Ostia, and Pompeii.  We've only read the first book so far, but I'm told all the books do a great job depicting the Ancient Roman lifestyle and events in Roman History along the way. 

Gifts from the Gods - Ancient Words & Wisdom From Greek and Roman Mythology
This book, written by Lise Lunge-Larsen and Illustrated by Gareth Hinds is a great read and a wonderful way to expand your child's vocabulary while introducing them to a little etimology.  It acted as a wonderful review of Greek Mythology while introducing Alice to the idea of "borrowed ideas" and the concept that "imitation is the finest form of flattery".  I'm so glad I checked it out!
Roman Myths - David West and Ross Watton
This Graphic Mythology Book is a great way to present the information to a young reader lacking the confidence to read more sophisticated versions of these stories.  The three myths included in this book are a few that are NOT also Greek Myths, so even if you did a study of the Ancient Greeks, you won't find duplication here (not that duplication is always a bad thing).  The three myths covered are "The Wanderings of Aeneas", "Romulus and Remus" and "Horatius and the Bridge".

Mythology Fandex 

I LOVE these things.  They are so visual and jammed with great tidbits of information while presenting the information in such a way that is unique enough to grab a kid's interest.  Neither book, nor flashcard, I think you'll like them too.  This particular one is about the myths and legends of the Greeks and Romans.  It is not all-inclusive, but works as a GREAT introduction and review later.

Other Useful Media:

Movies And Audio:

Because I try to include information about resources for older children as well, I often include movies I viewed that might be good for an older child that I DID NOT view with Alice for different reasons.  Please make sure always to review any material BEFORE viewing or listening with your own kids to be sure it is appropriate for your objectives and children.  Thanks.

Roman City - PBS movie hosted by David Macauly

Treasure Seekers - In the Shadow of Ancient Rome

History Channel - History of the Roman Colosseum and Rome: Rise and Fall of an Empire (series)

The Story of Rome and Julius Caesar - Jim Weiss gives a re-telling of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar but adds quite a bit of well-told background information before hand (The Story of Rome) to help kids understand what it is that is going on at the beginning of Julius Caesar. 

Secrets of the Dead - Lost Ships of Rome

National Geographic's: When Rome Ruled

Colloseum: A Gladiator's Story - This was a fabulous story or dramatization of the the life of one particular gladiator.  The movie mixed the story-telling drama and visualization of cinema with documentary seamlessly.  Although it has violence (it is about Ancient Rome and a gladiator after-all) there was a lot less violence than I might have predicted and I am quite impressed with the whole picture - including the acting (part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4).  While this does use historical fiction, the tale of the fight itself is a true one making it all that more interesting.

Pompeii: The Last Day - This movie was actually packaged WITH A Gladiator's Story and the DVD gave Pompeii: The Last Day title billing.  However, although it was good, I found the acting within it and the story used to create the dramatic portion of this documentary far less engaging than that of the Gladiator.  Having said that, it was still well done and a wonderful source of information if you choose NOT to use any of the many books available out there about the subject.  Unless you are specifically studying Pompeii, I'd skip it in favor of other, better and more child-appropriate resources (also listed here).

Online Information, Links Pages, Games and Animated Resources:

PBS Rome Lesson Plans and Videos

Rome Exposed


SPQR Online

Arabic Numerals to Roman Numerals: http://www.aaastudy.com/g1_28wx1.htm
Roman Numerals to Arabic Numerals: http://www.aaastudy.com/g1_28xx1.htm

Animated Map of Ancient Civilizations and their Changing Boundaries  Watch on Biggest Screen Possible and be prepared to point to things you'd like to highlight and make sure your kids see.

Animated Map of the Rise and Fall of empires through history Appropriately set to "Eye of the Tiger"

History Channel "Interactive"

I'm still learning how to use it, but do the download at www.googleearth.com/rome and enjoy the AMAZING features that come with google's latest innovation.  The views of Ancient Rome and unbelievably detailed.

This slightly quirky and give-you-a-chuckle-host, Hart Davis, takes you through a whole bunch of lessons (episodes) about the amazing things the Romans did as they particularly pertain to Great Britain.  Although it doesn't neccessarily focus on Rome itself much, it does really give an impression about the accomplishements of the Romans as well as their daily living.  I didn't view every episode, but had no qualms about showing any of the episodes I did see to Alice.  What a GREAT SERIES!  Thanks again BBC.

BBC's WONDERFUL Game for the primary grades about Ancient Rome

Online Free Unit Study (for classrooms but adaptable) http://www.ckcolorado.org/units/3rd_grade/3_AncientRome.pdf

Here is a video that might an interesting "food for thought" kind of discussion inspiration for you and your teenagers.  It is fast, includes sarcasm and a quick, cartoon animation of legs and arms at the edges of bedcovers representing Cleopatra and Caesar so it really is going to beyond your elementary student's ability to grasp.  Check it out and see what you think.

If you enjoy using a Felt Board with your Students here is a way to make "Greek and Roman" Warriors

Byzantine Empire - Rome Divided - Constantine

Things the Romans Left Behind Video 

Worst Jobs in History Roman

Please Enjoy!

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