Roman History

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This is the map from Augustus Caesar's World.

This is the map from Augustus Caesar’s World.

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I’ll be the first to admit this wasn’t one of our “prettiest” blocks.  Sometimes that’s just how it is and I can accept that. Teal’s Main Lesson Book left much to be desired as there wasn’t much artwork, it isn’t embellished at all, and the she didn’t even do borders! BUT, we studied Rome and talked about it a lot and enjoyed our time, so I consider it successful and will endeavor to share some of the resources that helped and some of my thoughts.

To prepare for the Roman History block, I listened to Eugene Schwartz’s lectures on Roman History a few times (found HERE) to get a feel for the block and ideas on how to teach it. I liked his overview and touched on many of his suggestions throughout the block.  Some ideas I tried to remember were to not overdo the facts and to think about what meets my child’s needs and what would excite her. Roberto Trostli also has a great overview of Steiner’s suggestions for teaching history in the upper elementary years in Rhythms of Learning. One great take-away is to remember to give your student an overview of what remains of the culture and how it is relevant to them before you begin.

We began the block by starting a timeline to review Ancient History from grade 5. I just got a three ring binder and printed some timeline pages to go in it so we could brainstorm some events and people we remembered from the cultures we studied last year and put them in chronological order. We checked out the 1999 DK Atlas of World History from the Library which Donna Simmons says is a “must have” for history in the middle grades. I found it to be fun and useful to get approximate dates for the events of ancient history. (It was HUGE, though! I’m glad our library has it and I did not have to purchase it.)

Then we moved on to a few days of the myths of Rome. First, I used the story of Aeneas from Dorothy Harrer’s Roman Lives to set the stage and then several chapters from Kovacs’ Ancient Rome for the myth of Romulus and Remus. Teal drew the statue of Romulus, Remus, and the Wolf suggested in Simmons’ Roman History guide.

I found Roman Lives by Dorothy Harrer to be the best resource for the seven kings of Rome. We spent a week learning about the seven kings before transitioning to Kovacs’ Ancient Rome for the meat of our study on the Roman Republic and Empire. I did like Donna’s write-up on Hannibal so we used that and drew the suggested picture to accompany it. One thing I did not like in Simmons’ book was the illustration of the seven hills of Rome. The placement and names did not correspond with the common names used in Harrer’s and Kovacs’ book or what I found on Wikipedia. In the Roman history guide, Donna had suggested the book Augustus Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster which I purchased. I was glad to find in it a terrific illustration of the seven hills of Rome (which I posted above for you!) and other nice black and white illustrations, although we didn’t use the book for much more because we ran out of time. Also, missing from any map was the location of the Janiculum, which isn’t one of the seven hills of Rome, but is the hill in the story of Horatius at the Bridge. If you google “seven hills of Rome images” there are some maps that include it, although the placement varies. I also want to say that I purchase Melisa Nielsen’s curriculum every year because she always has some valuable activity ideas and thoughts!

I bought The History of Civilization: Caesar and Christ by Will Durant that Donna Simmons recommends, but only ended up reading one chapter. It was very thorough, but felt like too much to sift through as I was preparing our main lessons. I used it to clarify a few questions I had regarding the organization of the republic.

Some of our activities included:

  • Studying Latin root words from Lundquist’s English from the Roots Up. It is the same book I used last year for Greek roots and blogged about HERE.
  • Memorizing “O Roma Nobilis” (Roma) that is included in both Simmons’ guide and The Waldorf Book of Poetry.
  • Learning to sing “O Roma Nobilis” from Barnes’ Music Through the Grades. It had such a weird discordant harmony, but was fun to play on the piano as we sang the melody.
  • Reading the excerpt from “Horatius at the Bridge” from the Waldorf Book of Poetry.
  • Learning how to draw Julius Caesar’s head using this face drawing tutorial. I am not very good at drawing, so Teal and I worked side by side on this project.
  • Watching part of Shakespeare’s  Julius Caesar done by the BBC. We rented it from Amazon and watched from when Caesar goes out on the Ides of March and gets assassinated to Marc Antony’s “Friends, Romans, Countrymen…” speech and argument. *WARNING: It IS a play-acted assassination and they use fake blood. I was rather surprised by how gory it seemed. Do not let your little ones watch with you!*
  • Teal read The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare aloud to me for fifteen minutes a day the entire block. (I don’t believe I’ve ever written about how important I think having your kids read aloud every day is; it is!) It did take longer than our block, but was a wonderful activity!!
  • We also enjoyed reading City by David Macauley.

We finished this block right before Christmas and ended by introducing Jesus Christ and how his life intertwined with the Roman Empire. Eugene Schwartz has four actual class lessons on Christianity recorded that I listened to in thinking about how to prepare for this portion of the lesson. The lectures were good, but aside from the history presented I was most interested to hear that his class sounded just like any classroom out there with the undercurrent of children’s sounds!

Thanks for stopping by! I would love to hear how you approached Roman History!

4 thoughts on “Roman History

  1. licoricelovinglady

    Thanks for posting about your approach to learning about the Romans. I think that a lack of “frills” in main lesson books for this block probably says at lot more about the Romans than the student. But having said this, moving out of the stage of “beauty” and into the stage of “intellect” must play a role, and that begins somewhere in sixth grade I think.

    Thanks for the tip about drawing attention to what the Romans have given us. It looks like a gem.

    I read your comment on Sheila’s blog about the effort to write this post, so I want to say thank you for doing so and sticking with it. I really do appreciate bloggers writing about resources and plans and what they did, but, as we discussed over at Sure as the World, it really is not the heart of this education at all. Still, I learn such a lot from bloggers writing about homeschooling. I am very, very grateful. Cathy

    ps I was happy to read your comment about my comment 🙂 as I’m commenting on your comment now too, but a different comment, I hope all this commenting isn’t confusing 🙂

    Reply
    1. Mrs. Mallard Post author

      Cathy, I do appreciate your comments so much! And your “ps” made me smile! As you know, there is SO much that goes on beside what appears in the Main Lesson Book. It’s impossible to capture the stories, the laughter, and the way the subjects become part of us as we study them.

      Do you finish schooling soon or continue in into the summer?

      Rachel

      Reply
      1. licoricelovinglady

        Hi Rachel, I’m in New Zealand so our school year ends in December. We are moving towards the shortest day here – it’s getting colder, and darker, and I have to really push myself to get going in the morning! I am a summer girl for sure, and this is the hardest time of the year for me with homeschooling. Once we’ve had the solstice, something shifts inside as the days start to get longer. Even though that’s just the start of winter I feel that we are moving towards the summer and that stirs my energy again. We are doing our second Norse Myths block at the moment and it seems very fitting.

      2. Mrs. Mallard Post author

        Cathy, I didn’t realize you were in New Zealand! Wow! It does seem fitting to be approaching Ragnarok as the days grow shorter! Good planning. 🙂 I was just thinking about how close I am to the longest day of the year – and how quickly it came this year. I don’t want to be on the downslide, yet. Have a great weekend! ~Rachel

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