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When in Rome… Students ‘Time Travel’ To Ancient Rome

POSTED June 2, 2010 2:20 a.m.

Sixth graders in Tara Vandermark’s class at Fair Oaks traveled back in time recently and hosted a Roman Time Machine for their peers.

With school-wide testing and many other activities on the calendar at the end of the school year, the teacher embarked on a creative way to meet standards in Social Studies, as well as speaking and listening skills.

“I think they get a better understanding of the standards when they get to experience them,” Vandermark said. “It makes learning the standards more fun and interesting.”

The students spent approximately three weeks in preparation to research and learn their parts for the Roman day, also holding a rehearsal in the days leading up to the event.

Vandermark’s students each selected a famous ancient Roman to write a report about. Then they created their own artistic representation of the Roman, including dressing in costume, to be presented to the visiting time travelers, a.k.a. their fellow students, in a ‘living museum.’ Some of the famous ancients included the ruler Julius Caesar; the poet Ovid; the poet and author of the Aenid, Virgil; the most educated and beautiful Roman woman, Aspasia; the first woman doctor, Agnodice; and Hypatia the female mathematician.

“We learned more about Roman society, their living conditions, and how they were different from us,” said student Austin Romito.

The ‘time travelers’ rotated through different stations or centers, which were meant to show a day in the life of an ancient Roman. The stations included Roman leisure and recreation, which consisted of a foot bath, slaves, and games. In the reader’s theater, there were gladiators, and the purpose was not to glamorize them but to show that they were slaves. The students created their own versions of ancient museum artifacts for display and then held an authentic Roman luncheon for the ‘average’ Roman. It consisted of such everyday foods as grapes, dates, olives, lentil soup, and bread. There was also lavender lemonade and a donut-like dessert.

Vandermark said that the students retain the material better when they get to make it come alive.

“It’s more fun than reading a book,” Romito added.

Studies and reenactments of ancient Greece were also held earlier this year, by the sixth grade classes at Fair Oaks, tying the activities into the timing of the Olympic Games.

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