Ancient Rome Unit Study: Week 2

This week, we’ll learn about some Roman architecture, including the aqueduct and the colosseum, and more about the life of a Roman gladiator. To end our week, we’ll take a bite out of a classic Roman dish while making some seriously smart chemistry application. Download our skills and books tracker for your records.

What you need:

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

Additional optional 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.

Aquaduct model:

  • blocks (or something similar—you could also use small cardboard boxes)
  • paper towel rolls
  • aluminum foil

OR you can build your model using Minecraft.

Roman arch, option 1:

Roman arch, option 2:

Colosseum model:

Gladiator sandals:

  • flip flop sandal base (you may be able to find these cheaper at a local dollar store)
  • strips from an old t-shirt, cut
  • beads (optional)

Roman coin, option 1:

Roman coins, option 2:

Sweet cabbage recipe:

Cabbage litmus test:

  • head of red cabbage
  • paper towels
  • liquids to test (ex. orange juice, soapy water, lemon juice, baking soda dissolved in water, vinegar)
  • small cups or jars
Lesson 1:

Throughout the month we will learn about famous sites from the Roman Empire. Using Google Earth, let’s preview some of these locations. Read over this blog post to learn the benefits of this online resource and print (or bookmark the page) to access the free Ancient Rome Google Earth Task Cards and Activities. We will use some of these task cards as we “travel” to these locations all week long. Let’s start with the Aqueduct in the next activity.

Activity 1: Read + Discover. The Aqueduct. Read Who Were the Romans?, page 30. As we learned, the aqueduct structures move water from one place to another.  Learn about the history and science of the Roman aqueduct in this post. (If they prefer to watch a video, this one offers many of the same details.) Watch this video to see the ruins of the ancient aqueduct and a model of how it worked. 

Activity 2: Travel to Pont du Gard and other aqueducts with Google Earth using your task cards. Isn’t it impressive?! Read more about the Pont du Gard here. Want to learn how to draw an aqueduct? This step-by-step tutorial will help.

Activity 3: Research. Did you know that aqueducts are still used today? Research modern-day aqueducts on the internet. You might find common elements between the ancient ones and the modern ones. What are the differences and similarities? Make a list as you compare and contrast materials, purpose, structure, and size. Here’s a source to start your research.

Activity 4: Now let’s build an aqueduct model. There are many ways to build a model of an aqueduct. We are suggesting two options, but follow your child’s lead if they have other ideas:

  • Option 1: Use blocks, paper towel rolls, and aluminum foil. Cut the paper towel tubes in half lengthwise and wrap them in aluminum foil to waterproof them. Next, build arches using building blocks and line them up a few inches apart. Tape the aqueduct paper towel rolls to the arches to keep them in place. Place a bowl on the far side of the structure and then pour water down the duct to watch it flow into the bowl.
Lesson 2:

Yesterday, we learned about the Roman aqueduct. Today, we’ll learn about more forms of Roman architecture. Start by watching this Crash Course video, starting at 6:20 for an introduction of the architecture of Roman society. It discusses the aqueduct, arches, and the roads this week. 

Activity 1: Read about Roman roads on this website. Watch this video for more history of the road. Next, let’s build a Roman road with this activity

Activity 2: Watch this video to learn why the Roman arch was so revolutionary. Here are two different activities to choose from: 

Once you have built your arch, test its strength by adding weight (like stacking books or blocks) to it.

Activity 3: Have you noticed that Roman architecture can be found in cities in the United States? Take a look at this post to see examples. Are there buildings in your community that mimic Roman architecture? If so, visit the building and look for these architectural elements: columns, arches, vaults, and domes. This article will help you know what to look for. Take pictures of the structures and create a collage of your photos labeling them. (This would also be a great co-op activity and field trip.)

Lesson 3:

Activity 1: Read + Discover. Today, we’ll learn about one of the most famous pieces of architecture in Rome, the Colosseum. Use Google Earth (and this blog post mentioned in Lesson 1) to get an up-close look at the Colosseum today. Then, read UEWH, pages 190-191 to learn about the Colosseum and the games that were played there.

(+)Activity 2: Next, let’s try to build this model of the Colosseum. 

Activity 3: Read + Discover. The Colosseum was famous for its gladiatorial fighting. Read Honest History page 11-16 to learn about the “Great Warriors of Rome, the Gladiator.” Read Ancient Rome for Kids, “Spartacus” to learn about a real life gladiator. (For additional reading introduce the fictional book: Life as a Gladiator: An Interactive History Adventure as free reading.)

Activity 4: Let’s bring today’s lessons to life with our own gladiator armor. Use this one to make gladiator sandals.

Lesson 4:

There’s no Roman Empire without some of Rome’s most famous rulers. Let’s learn about some of them today.

Activity 1: Read + Discover. Has your child ever heard of Julius Caesar? Read UEWH, page 185 to learn more about him. Continue reading about him in Ancient Rome For Kids under “Julius Caesar.” Click here to read about and see a statue of Julius Caesar that is still standing in Rome.

Activity 2: Let’s get acquainted with the five Roman emperors. Read Honest History, pages 24-28 to learn about them. What did Augustus really look like? Watch this video to find out. The artist uses sculptures and historical references to create a true to life image of Augustus. 
(+) To learn more about the emperors of Rome, read Ancient Rome for Kids: Caesar Augustus, Caligula, and Nero.

Activity 3: Read Honest History, page 9 to learn about coins of the Roman Empire. Now, choose between one of these two activities.

Options 1: Make these playdough coins. Instead of drawing in the face of an emperor, practice your Roman numerals.
Option 2: Design your own Roman coin.

(+) Want some extra information about Roman coins? Click here to learn about some Roman coins found in Wales.

Lesson 5:

One of the most popular vegetables in Ancient Rome? Cabbage! Read about the history of cabbage in the Roman diet here. Making salads with cabbage was also a common Roman meal, and we can thank them for coleslaw or “cabbage salad.” The earliest descriptions of coleslaw were of a shredded cabbage salad dressed with vinegar, eggs, and spices. (source)

Activity 1: Prepare this recipe of sweet cabbage, a popular Roman dish.

Activity 2: The Romans probably didn’t realize just how healthy cabbage was for their diets. Cabbage is actually incredibly wholesome—read all about the benefits of cabbage in this article.

Activity 3: Other interesting uses of cabbage will be discovered in this science experiment. Review vocabulary words such as “litmus,” “acids,” and “bases” as you work through this STEM activity.

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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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