Pre-visit and post-visit activities
Pre- and post-visit activities
Social studies activities
Gladiator the movie
Use snippets of the film Gladiator to introduce students to Roman culture. Ask students to form groups and visualise sitting on a street in Pompeii a few days before the eruption. Narrow the focus to the sense of hearing, and have them list everything they would or wouldn’t hear. For example, they might hear a cart with wooden wheels on a stone road, but they wouldn’t hear car motors.
Pompeii comic strip
Create a comic strip of the daily life of a child in Pompeii. Give students a range of words to incorporate into the strip, for example: forum, gladiator, Latin, villa, mosaic, basilica, amphitheatre, and aqueduct.
My house in Pompeii
Brainstorm and discuss the houses found in different climates around the world. Ask students to guess how houses in Pompeii might have looked and to illustrate their ideas. Have them consider what household items and waste systems might have been used. Finish by watching the House of the Vine on the Melbourne Museum website.
My life in Pompeii
Have students create a journal from the perspective of a Pompeii community member. They should make at least five observations about daily life just before and during the early stages of the eruption. Get them to use as many Latin words as possible for fun.
The objects from Pompeii
Have students display photos of artefacts that they saw in the exhibition. They can then bring in examples of their modern counterparts and make comparisons between them. See the objects.
A Pompeii tavern
A Pompeii tavern needs a new sign. Have students design one (including a logo) to advertise the tavern’s selection of food and beverages to local residents. You could extend this activity by assigning different businesses to groups of students. Have them present their designs to the rest of the class and describe how their business operates. As a result, the class can build up an idea of the economic structure of the town.
Food of the rich. Food of the slaves.
Introduce this scenario: ‘Imagine you are a Roman mother doing the grocery shopping. What would you buy?’ Have students design and illustrate a day’s menu for a wealthy family. Then have them design one for a poor family or slave. Discuss the differences.
Compare Pompeian culture with other cultures that existed around 79 AD, for example, Egyptian or Aztec cultures.
Ask students: ‘What will life look like in 100 years? In 1,000 years?’ Have them create a time capsule containing objects, images, or ideas that are important to them. They could bury it in their backyard or keep it somewhere safe and then check it after a year. ‘What has changed about what is special to you?’
Make a volcano
Ask: ‘What type of volcano was Mt Vesuvius? Is it likely to erupt again soon?’
Simulate your own volcanic eruption by following the instructions at Funschool (http://funschool.kaboose.com/globe-rider/space/erupting-volcanoes.html). This is a messy project. Wear old clothes and work on newspapers or, even better, outdoors.
Explore what archaeologists are studying in the Pompeii region today. Discuss the laws that guide the site. Have students work in pairs to research major archaeological finds elsewhere in the world. On a large world map, they can use coloured pins to locate and label the finds. They should state the location, the date of the find, and what was found.
Take photos of your class doing these fun art activities listed below and upload them to OurSpace at Te Papa. Sign up today!
Explore Māori and Roman myths
Every culture has myths to explain physical events. Have students research Māori and Roman myths relating to vulcanology. Then have them perform these myths as short dramas. They could also write a modern myth explaining volcanic eruptions.
Jewellery, sculptures and frescos
Ask students to create jewellery, sculptures, or frescos like those found in Pompeii. They could use papier mâché and other media. Turn an area of the classroom into an exhibition space to display their work. Invite another class to tour the space.
As a class, discuss murals and graffiti around town. ‘What do the images mean, and why they are legal or illegal?’ Compare the images with the graffiti and frescos found in Pompeii. Have students use the techniques and styles of the ancient Romans (such as fresco) to create artworks expressing their own ideas and messages.
Create a mosaic
Have students create their own Roman-influenced mosaics using magazines, coloured paper, and other recycled materials.
Make a class fresco inspired by those seen in the Pompeii exhibition and informed by an investigation of other frescos.
Ask students to imagine and share what it might be like to experience a volcanic eruption. Then watch a video clip of a recent eruption. Tell students that there was no word for ‘volcano’ in Latin. Discuss what this might suggest about Roman culture.
Vesuvius vrs Tarawera
Have students work in pairs to create a presentation or poster comparing the Vesuvius eruption with the Tarawera eruption that destroyed the Pink and White Terraces.
Investigate a disaster
Have students investigate a local, national, or international disaster and answer the following:
- What caused the disaster?
- What were its effects?
- How did the community react?
- Could people have prepared better and, if so, how?
For other disaster-related activities, please refer to the Awesome Forces teacher resource.
Activities for older or advanced students
Pliny the Younger
Analyse the letter of Pliny the Younger to find evidence of attitudes toward the Vesuvius eruption of 79 AD and the destruction it caused.
Gladiator & Ben Hur
Have students analyse the film Gladiator or Ben Hur for aspects that seem historically accurate and aspects that seem out of place. They could comment on the costumes, sets, plot, dialogue, and so on. Have them write a report on their findings.
Recent reports indicate that tourists to Pompeii are damaging the site. Have students write a paper stating whether they think people should be able to visit Pompeii and for what reasons. ‘Why is conservation of the site so important? What measures would you suggest to improve the situation?’