Ancient Rome Unit Study: Week 1

In this month-long unit, all roads lead to Rome—ancient Rome, that is! We’ll cover a variety of topics, including history, writing, science, and more through hands-on activities your child will love. Ready to get started? Download our skills and books tracker for your records.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Optional chapter book:

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

Note: We break down our supply list by so you can choose what you need based on which lessons you plan to do with your child.

Map of ancient Rome craft:

Ancient Rome cards:

Roman toga:

Latin root word tree:

Roman sweet cake:

Osmosis experiment:

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

Start the week by watching this introductory video, which includes details about the location of the original Roman civilization, the growth of the Roman Empire, the various forms of government that developed in this civilization, the class structure,  the architecture, the culture, and the language of the Roman people. After watching, discuss as many of the details as your child remembers. Which of these concepts is familiar to them? Which are new?

Activity 1: Draw a map of the Roman Republic from 200 B.C.E. using this sample as inspiration. Label your map with the names of Roman cities. Then use this tutorial to give your map an ancient look.

Activity 2: Read + Discover. Read the Welcome note from Honest History page 4. Pull out your map, globe, or atlas and find Europe today. Start by finding Italy and the city of Rome where the Roman Empire began. Now, look at this map to see the land once referred to as the Roman Empire. (You can also see the map in Honest History on page 5.) What was once the Roman Empire is now dozens of countries. In fact, Europe today has 44 countries. (source)  Play this online, interactive game to learn the names and locations of European countries.

Activity 3: Read Ancient Rome for Kids: The Kings of Ancient Rome to learn Rome’s early history. Point out the pictures in this section.

Lesson 2:

Today, we’ll begin learning about the rise of the Roman Empire.

Activity 1: Discover. Read the Usborne Encyclopedia World History (UEWH), page 184 to learn about the start of this ancient civilization and Roman Republic. Next, print two sets of these cards on cardstock. (Laminate if possible.) Use the cards to review the vocabulary that we have learned so far, such as “Romulus and Remus.” Hold onto the cards for later in our unit. They can also be used to introduce new topics, for copywork as each theme is learned or for a review at the end of the month. 

Activity 2: Read + Discover. Next, let’s learn about the Roman Senate. Look again at UEWH, page 184 picture. The Republic was a form of government where there were no kings but instead politicians making the decisions. These were called Senators, meaning “old men.” (Really!) Many governments today continue to follow this pattern. In ancient Rome, the politicians were not elected—instead, they were appointed. Read more about how the Roman government was set up here
(+) Watch this video for a lot more detail about the Roman Senate.

Activity 3: The Senate had to argue their ideas if they wanted to change anything in the Republic. Let’s take a cue from their arguments for today’s writing assignment! Write a persuasive essay about what you would like to have for dinner tonight. Argue your points as if you were a Roman Senator.

What is a persuasive essay? This video will help learn what it is. Next, watch this video and this video for tips on how to write an affective argument. There are eight videos in this series, so watch all of them if your child needs more help with this topic.

Now encourage your child to persuade you. Is there something they want to purchase, a house rule they want to change, or an other issue they feel passionately about? Have them write a persuade essay with these goals in mind. They can present their essay in tomorrow’s oral reading assignment.

Lesson 3:

Today is all about the people of Rome.

Activity 1: Discover. Read Who Were The Romans? page 2 to learn about the people who lived in the Roman Empire. Read + Discuss the difference between the class structure of the empire. Next, read Who Were The Romans? pages 2 and 3 to learn the difference between the citizens and non-citizens in Ancient Rome. Next, let’s look the part with a little dress up! Create a toga with a bed sheet with the help of the directions on page 5 of the book Now that you are dressed up as an official Roman, have your child read their persuasive essay from Lesson 2. See if they’re able to persuade you!

Activity 2: Slavery was a big part of Ancient Roman life. Read about enslaved people here in this post. After you read, discuss these points: What made slavery in Rome the same or different as slavery in other parts of the world/history? The chapter book Roman Diary: The Journal of Iliona, a Young Slave tells the story of Iliona. This would be a good time to introduce this book to your child for independent reading.

Activity 3: The people of the Roman empire spoke Latin. Read Who Were The Romans? under the subheading “What is Latin?” on page 3. Honest History page 22, 23 gives you some examples of Latin words and how they are used today. 

Knowing the origins of English words we speak all the time is actually really helpful because it helps us understand spelling rules and definitions. Let’s dig into some language arts with a Latin twist. This link lists some Latin and Greek word origins. Download the Greek list and examine it together.

Next, use this our Latin root word tree printable to create as many root word trees as you would like using the root words from the list above. For example, the Latin root “multi” means many. We get words like “multicultural,” “multicolored,” and “multitask” from this Latin word. Pick one of the Latin roots from Honest History or the website and use it to fill out the tree printable. You can use Google or a dictionary to find more words.

Lesson 4:

Today, we’ll learn more about what it meant to be a soldier in Ancient Rome. Rome expanded its territory by conquering its neighbors. Read UEWH page 185 under “Conquering Carthage.”  This was one of many battles that allowed Rome to grow from a Republic into an empire. Next, read Ancient Rome for Kids under “Scipio Africanus” to learn about the Punic Wars. (For a picture of the corvus, click here.) Watch this video for an overview of what we’ve learned so far. The video also includes details about the Roman army, known as the legionnaires.

Activity 1: Let’s learn more about what it was like to actually be a soldier in Rome. Learn about the hardships of the soldiers in this article. Next, make a shield using this tutorial. Next, create your own Roman imperial helmet with this tutorial

Activity 2: Draw a Roman soldier with this step-by-step instruction video

Activity 3: Use the description under each term in the activity cards that match today’s lesson for some copywork.

Lesson 5:

In ancient times, honey was called “the nectar of the gods” and was mankind’s principal sweetener. (source) Let’s learn more about it with these sweet activities.

Activity 1: Make a Roman sweet cake to enjoy an ancient dessert.

Activity 2: Let’s learn more about the science of honey! Did you know honey doesn’t spoil? Watch this video to find out why. Next, do these STEM experiments to understand the process of osmosis. (You can upgrade this experiment by recording your findings.) Measuring the egg’s size and weigh the egg with a cooking scale after each soaking. Note: The egg will have to soak for several days for some of this experiment.

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Published by The Learn + Live Letter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-12.

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