Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Unit study: Italy

 Over the last two weeks we spent about an hour a day talking about Italy. (We chose Italy because the Bear recently started taking Italian lessons.) Here is a rough outline of what we did each day...that ended up turning into 2+ weeks instead of 7 days.

Working on maps of Italy
  We started out just discussing Italy, looking at the geography and locating its volcanoes (my kids are a little obsessed with volcanoes). We watched a couple National Geographic videos about Mt. Etna and discussed everything we could remember about Pompeii and Vesuvius.

These are the books we started with to get an idea of what Italy is all about. My kids did NOT want me to stop reading the "See You Later Gladiator" book. I probably could have read it all in one sitting because they were so enthralled by the action and characters. (It's also only about 10 chapters long.)

 I also absolutely love this social studies workbook and we use it whenever discussing a country. It has great basic facts for kids about different countries and good suggestions for activities and food to recipes for crostini and gelato. We also made panzanella, biscotti, risotto, muffaletta and identified 11 different types of pasta: spaghetti, vermicelli, linguini, tortellini, rotini, farfalle, penne, fusilli, rigatoni, radiatori, ruote. My favorite food event was when we were eating frittata and the kids wanted to know how to say "eggs" in Italian (uova). Then they wanted to know how to say, "Eggs are yummy" in Italian (uova sono gustosissimo).

Reinforced Pisa
We learned about the Leaning Tower of Pisa through this video and the first 10 minutes of this video on YouTube. We discussed the problem with the tower, the foolish man who built his house upon the sand, and what we need to build strong foundations. Then we built our own towers with marshmallows and toothpicks.

Library books on Michelangelo
After we spent about 2 days doing a broad over-view of Italy and learning about major land marks we started learning about major artists from Italy. We found awesome books from the library that helped a lot. We also watched this video of Michelangelo and this one of Leonardo. I did my best to point out composition, color, and form in the different pieces of art. We also compared and contrasted their lives (like neither considered themselves painters: Leonardo was a scientist who studied it through art and Michelangelo was a sculptor being forced to paint by the Pope).
Neptune with trident

We listened to Vivaldi and Puccini as famous examples of Italian composers. And we listened to Holst's "Planets" as we drew (or built out of legos) the Roman Gods. We also read some Italian fairy tales.

A victorious Mars

Overall it was a fun experience and it helped to focus our discussions and learn new tid-bits of information. If you need more ideas or specific links, check out my pinterest account where I have an entire Italy board.

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