When in Rome do as ‘ The Rotten Romans’

Roman mosaic border

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Bring ‘The Romans’ to Life

Here are some good ideas for covering the topic of ‘The Romans’ with children, including making Roman weaponry, mosaic designs, storytelling, a class assembly, making props and displays.

Roman Mosaic Designs
I visited a Year Three class in Barton, Oxford and taught the children how to draw Roman style dolphins.
We looked at an image of Roman dolphins and I told a story about the handsome Neptune riding a sea chariot drawn by sea horses and winged cupid astride dolphins riding the frothy waves. Find a story to tell here.
Below is a drawing I did in chalks to show the children how to design a mosaic and to give them a visual idea of what I was asking them to create.
Roman mosaic design
The children began by hand drawing a border on their piece of black paper, I then showed them step-by-step, how to draw a Roman dolphin in white chalk.  I invited them to complete their design showing the idea of the tesserae by drawing little shapes for the background. They then embellished their border if they had time.
(Unfortunately the children were not able to finish their artwork with me due to time constraints and I do not have photos of their completed work.)
How to draw a Roman dolphin-step by step
Roman dolphinHere is a step by step version of what I took them through. Try it for yourself first. Children don’t need to know what part they are drawing. All they need to hear is your descriptions and copy you.
Describe the lines you draw like saying ‘now draw a gently curved line going up’ Etc.
 
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TIP:
Make sounds with your voice as you draw, the children will copy you and this helps them ‘feel’ what they are doing. It works!!! If my pencil goes up, then my voice goes up too. Try it!
 
TIP: Use your voice to describe the movement. or say ’round’ in a curvy way.
 
 
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 Remember, everyone’s will be unique and that is good!
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Roman Dolphin
The picture below was one I had on show for children to get ideas of Roman border designs, they also had access to reference books on Roman mosaics and images on the internet.Roman borders Storytelling
Every week, in two year three classes I spent half an hour storytelling Roman myths to the children. I was amazed at the way the stories really captured their imaginations and created many links and connections for them.
The myth of Pegasus’s birth is a fascinating one and involves the much loved yet feared character of Medusa (his mother).(Watch the story here-check before you show children)medusa mosaic design
The tale of poor Echo
The children’s response to the story of the unfortunate nymph Echo was amazing to see. Echo who was admired by Jupiter (king of the gods), is cursed by his jealous wife Juno (queen of the Gods) to never speak again but merely echo the sounds she hears around her. Echo falls in love with Narcissus who shuns her advances and chooses to wither away his life uselessly in love with his own reflection. Poor Echo then spurns the advances of amorous Pan the half goat half man (god of shepherding & music) and is shattered into a thousand pieces across the world where she remains to this day.
A well-chosen story
Children often came to me saying that they heard Echo under a bridge on the way home, or that they heard her in their hall at home. One child even asked how come Echo was in the school toilets. The right story can get children thinking and learning beyond the classroom and this is the most exciting kind of learning.

Class Assembly on the ‘Rotten Romans’
You may be wondering what on earth this clever recycled camera has to do with the Romans. Well, the Yr Three class I was with in Littlemore decided to do their own news round assembly of the facts they learnt about the Romans and it all began with one of the children shouting ‘Action’ and pretending to film it using this camera. IMG_1447 IMG_1446
Rat Sandwich anyone?
One of the children discovered during an internet research lession that Romans liked eating rat sandwiches. This was of great fascination to them and so we decided to make our own rat sandwich using painted sponges and pipe cleaners for the curly tails.
IMG_1444 IMG_1466Another child discovered that some Romans drank blood, so we died tissues red with food colouring and put it in a plastic cup to use in our news round assembly and on our class display.
IMG_1467Fearsome Fighters
We made Roman helmets, shields, swords out of cardboard boxes, paint, tissue paper and foil. We used these in our class assembly to act out a fight between a gladiator and a Roman soldier, our audience gave the thumbs down and the gladiator was slain at the Emperor’s bidding!
IMG_1454 Roman classroom display IMG_1448 IMG_1453 IMG_1443 Two wire hooks on the back of the shields for the handle.IMG_1442My favourite are the gladiator sandals!!!
Made from 100% cardboard and a few well placed staples.
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All those props made a super cool display!
Along with our non chronological reports, Roman key words, facts that the children discovered and wrote, pictures and dates.
IMG_1468 IMG_1469 IMG_1464 Roman classroom display
The children ended their class assembly with the Boudica rap from Horrible Histories. We made Boudicca head bands and the three Boudiccas wore cloth capes. All in all both classes thoroughly enjoyed the Rotten Roman topic and the creative activities, storytelling and class assembly really brought the whole topic to life.

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