Ancient Rome Unit Study: Week 4

Let’s end our month of Ancient Rome by learning a bit more about the geography (including a historic volcanic eruption!), how the ancient Romans liked to relax, and what modern-day Rome looks like now. Download our skills and books tracker for your records.

What you need:

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

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.

Pompeii volcano (or you can buy this kit):

  • clay/playdough
  • paper cup
  • vinegar
  • baking soda

Roman gods + goddesses family tree:

Make your own soap:

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:

Volcanoes were a part of ancient civilizations just as they are today. Let’s learn about a famous eruption on the island of Pompeii.

Activity 1: Read about the history of Pompeii in the book You Wouldn’t Want to Live in Pompeii or from these websites here and here.
(+) You can also watch this Ted-Ed video here.

Activity 2: Making an erupting volcano just never gets old for kids! Use this post for inspiration to create your own, or use this kit if you aren’t feeling crafty this week. Create your own city of Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius, and then let it erupt! Alternatively, you could create it in Minecraft—here’s some inspiration.

Activity 3: Let’s learn more about the science of volcanoes. Explore the American Museum of Natural History website here to learn about volcanoes. There is a lot of information on this site, so take your time!

Lesson 2:

The Romans had lots of different gods and goddesses. There were gods for almost everything, like thunder, love, war, wisdom, and even the sewer in Rome. The Romans were always trying to stay on the good side of their gods, so they made offerings at temples and shrines to make them happy. They also borrowed new gods from the people they conquered, like the goddess Isis from Egypt and Mithras from Iran. Some emperors were declared gods, too, usually after they died. They hoped this would make emperors even more powerful and respected. (source

Activity 1: Look at this list to learn more about the Roman gods. Click on as many as your child would like to learn more details about each. 

Activity 2: Using details on this (scroll down) and this website, create a family tree of the Roman gods. Write the names of the gods on a piece of cardstock. Either cut out pictures of the gods from the websites linked above or search the internet for other pictures to add to your Roman gods family tree. (Note: The “family” can be quite confusing. This would be a great project to do together with your child to avoid needless frustration.)

Activity 3: You probably noticed in our first activity that the Roman gods were used to name some of the planets in our solar system. Read this article to learn who named the planets. Learn more about the planets from this article and data chart. How large are the planets in our solar system? Let’s learn the answer in this PBS video (with the help of host Neil deGrasse Tyson). Next, try creating your own to scale model of the planets with the help of this post and free download. (This activity will need to be done outdoors and would be great for a large group.)

Math application: As you prepare to create a scale model of the planets, it might be useful to learn how to take measurements. Watch this Math Antics video to learn about taking measurements.

Lesson 3:

The Roman Empire fell in about 479 C.E., according to most historians (source). Read pages 194-195 of UEWH to learn about the fall of Rome. You can read this website to learn a bit about why some people think this grand empire came to an end. Visit this website for additional information on the fall of the empire and the formation of the Byzantine Empire.

Activity 1: Ready for a little vocabulary? Have you noticed the word “barbarian” in history books when describing people from outside of the Roman Empire (or outsiders in general)? Let’s learn a bit more about the history of the word and how it has taken a negative connotation over time. Read this article for more on the origins of the word. Practice some critical thinking skills with your child by discussing with them how this word can be offensive. Here’s a place to start.

Activity 2: Read the picture book Ottavia and the Cats of Rome for a modern tour of this ancient city. Next, take a cab tour through Rome. (Be sure to choose the right city once you have landed on the page.)

Activity 3: Most of the places that we have talked about in our unit can still be found today. Using your Ancient Rome Definition Cards, find these places and review the lessons from our unit. They can also be used to create a lapbook.
(New to lapbooking? This post will help get you started.)

(+) Ask your child to pick a card and write and present an oral presentation about it for the family. Provide these parameters: Choose your favorite topic from the Roman unit and tell us why you enjoyed learning about this topic. Share three interesting facts about the topic. Why was this an important part of history? 

Lesson 4:

Next, let’s learn about a Roman leisure activity that can still be seen today, the Roman baths.

Activity 1: Read + Discover. Learn about Roman Baths by reading Who Were The Romans?, pages 20 and 21. What kind of soap did Romans use? Trick question—they didn’t use soap! Read the box on page 21 to learn what they used instead.

Activity 2: So when did soap come into use? Read about the history of soap here. Next, let’s make our own soap using this recipe.

Lesson 5:

Activity 1: What did the dining room in a Roman home look like? Look at the picture and details in the book Who Were The Romans?, page 19. Do you notice that they ate in a reclined position? What other differences and similarities do you notice about their dining habits?

Activity 2: Research project. Do you think that eating in a reclined position affects digestion? Set your child up to do research to answer this question. (They could look at this website or this one to start.) Have them take notes or draw pictures as they find the answer. They can present their findings over dinner.

Activity 3: During the times of the Roman Empire, Italians derived approximately three-quarters of their calories from grains like bread and beans, and the tradition of this diet still has a strong influence on the way people eat today. Beyond these staples, leafy greens, mushrooms, olives and dried fruits were also popular where they could be produced locally. While items like prosciutto and salami are now loved internationally, meats like beef, mutton and lamb were also commonly consumed. With the added seasoning of salt and olive oil, the art of Italian cuisine existed in the simplicity of its dishes that focused on quality ingredients, and it remains the same today. Try this Italian pasta soup recipe for a taste of Rome.

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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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