Monday, May 15, 2017

Around the World: Italy

 For our final trip around the world this year, we traveled to Italy and Ancient Rome with the Five in a Row book Angelo by David Macaulay. This is the story of an elderly plasterer who discovers an injured pigeon while he is restoring the stucco on a church in Rome. He nurses the pigeon, Sylvia, back to health and they become good friends. As he grows older, he worries that Sylvia will not have a home, so he comes up with an inventive way to provide one for her. 

We began learning about Italy by watching an episode of Travel with Kids, where the family visits Rome. They see many of the ancient ruins including the colosseum where they train to be gladiators. They also visit many of the beautiful churches in Rome. We read more about Roman history in The Story of the World and and learned about Roman dress, houses, and food in our Evan Moor History Pocket for Ancient Rome. Then we discovered an amazing video made by David Macaulay called City. In it he takes the viewers through the ancient Roman City of Pompeii. The videos also included animated interludes with a story about the Romans conquering the Gauls and attempting to turn the French town into a Roman city. The older girls liked it so much that we watched another video in the series called Castle.

We decided to make an Italian meal and dress up like Romans (well, and one dragon.)
We had a yummy meal of spaghetti and garlic bread.
We learned more about the author David Macaulay by watching an author interview at Read Aloud Revival. It was fun to hear that his favorite book is Angelo, and to see how he injects humor in all of his very detailed architectural drawings. We had to pull out our copy of The Way Things Work and find all the wooly mammoths. We read through, and noticed all the funny details Macaulay had added to the story with his illustrations.Of course, this inspired us to draw. So we spent some time with art, learning how to draw 3-D shapes like cubes, spheres, pyramids, and cylinders. We turned those shapes into houses. Mabel found a neat way of drawing little cube rooms and filling them with tiny furniture.

For science, we found a Mystery Science lesson about food chains called Why would a Hawk move to the City? The lesson went perfectly with the book because the story even involved pigeons. The activity was a food chain card game called Eat or Be Eaten. The kids had so much fun playing this that they played it all afternoon and even had to play with Dad when he got home from work.

Then, there are some times when it seems like God just smiles down on your homeschool efforts and makes things work out just right. We are in the middle of selling our house, so we have to be out of our house a lot. I knew we would need to be out for a few hours, so I looked at the local museums for something to do. The Smith College Art Museum was having a special exhibit of Roman artifacts. The exhibit featured the archeological artifacts from a villa in a small village near Pompeii. They had recreated paintings and had models and videos of what the rooms would look like. It was so cool to see the ancient statues, jars, pottery, and even coins and jewelry that had been so well-preserved. While we were there we found out they were having a community day on Saturday with Roman activities. It was a bit crowded, but the kids were really excited to share the exhibit with their dad. They got to make jewelry, see some volcanic rocks, and visit the greenhouses as well.


  1. Thank you for this informative post. Italian food is my favorite. That spaghetti and garlic bread look delicious. Good luck with selling your house and moving.

  2. I love the way you show and teach your children the different countries and their customs. You make learning an exciting adventure.