Culminating their study unit on ancient Greece and Rome, fifth-graders at Centre Ridge Elementary recently participated in the school's annual Greek and Roman Day.
After reading, studying and researching ancient Greece and Rome, the students got a taste of what it was like to live during those times. They dressed in togas, wore leafy crowns on their heads and sampled foods such as baklava, hummus and pizza.
They also performed Greek drama, worked with Roman calculations and Latin root words, completed an Internet scavenger hunt, created mosaics and Roman glass jars and competed in a mini-Olympics. Teacher Lisa Schroeder chaired the day's events with help from fellow fifth-grade teachers Jaime Graham, Teri Vlasin, Ellen Mukai, Jackie Danielson, Dayna Davis, Mariela DeKraker and Kerry Gannon.
"We ate olives and pita bread and pizza and rotated to different [activity] stations," said Melissa Mowery, 10. "We played jacks because that's what some of the ancient kids did. We measured our feet in metrics — mine were 194 graph blocks — and I made a turtle out of papier mache."
Teacher Graham explained some of the activities. She said ancient Greek children played a game similar to jacks, but with animal knuckle bones. The students did some estimating, which is part of their math curriculum — and the ancient Greeks used metric measurements.
At one station, children had to remember items in a box and, said Graham, "When [ancient Greek] boys went to school, they focused on memorization of different facts." Students used bits of colorful construction paper to make mosaic pictures, and each child brought in a glass jar and decorated it with pieces of different-colored tissue paper to create the effect of a stained-glass window.
They worked with Roman numerals because that was the number system used then, and the Latin roots exercise helped them build their vocabularies. "They're given a root word, such as 'spec,' and have to see how many other words they can make from it — for example, 'spectacle,' 'spectacular' and 'spectator,'" said Graham. "And they work in teams, which builds teamwork."
Students also saw a video to familiarize themselves with the Greek myths and religion. And they studied the different types of buildings and temples and tried to recreate them out of wood.
During the festivities, parents brought in food such as homemade hummus, feta cheese, olives, pita bread, pizza and baklava, and the students had fun tasting everything. And during the closing ceremonies, two students from each class who showed great spirit and teamwork throughout the day got special certificates.
Parent volunteers also helped supervise and run the activities. Said Graham: "We wouldn't have been able to do it without their help."
Wearing a dark-blue toga with a purple-satin neckband, Francis Conway, 11, said he liked the acting: "We did 'Jason and the Argonauts,' and I was Jason — he was a military genius and won a lot of ladies' hearts." But Francis prefers living in modern times, he said, because of all the technology.
Gin Yang, 11, enjoyed the estimating activity. "We dipped a sponge in water, but first guessed — if we squeezed it — how many millimeters of water it held," he explained. "Then we compared the result to our guess. It was 300 millimeters, and I got it right."
He also liked doing mosaics. He sketched a picture of a beach on a piece of paper and then glued different-colored squares of paper onto it to create the scene.
Mykia Townsend estimated that her feet would be 10 square centimeters long on graph paper, but they were actually 24. Said Mykia: "My favorite activity was when we had lunch. I liked the olives best — and putting 'em on my fingers."
Young Jeung Kim and Samuel Kim also were lunch fans, but Jodeci Martin, 10 — wearing a white toga and silver chains around her waist and head — said she liked putting tissue paper on her glass jar. Said Jodedi: "I might give it to my mom or put pencils or hair clips in it."
Rasheed Todman learned a story about twin Roman brothers: "They had a drum of water, and a wolf followed them, took care of them and protected them." Zahra Rehman learned that "it's not easy to keep a toga from falling off." Hers was tied at the shoulder and kept slipping.
April Slaughter, 10 1/2, liked eating best. "I ate five slices of pizza, two sugar cookies, 100 grapes and a lot of juice," she said. "The Greeks played jacks and had real cool food." Ximena Oyola, 11, enjoyed the glass-jar activity and said she'd put pencils and candies in hers. She also liked learning about Roman numerals.
Keichelle Shanklin, 11, also had fun with the papier mache and learned about the Olympics. She'd like to visit Greece someday and see the sights. Jake Schrank, 10, narrated the play, "Euridice and Orpheus. "It was fun when [classmate] Louis Sciortino ran into a [pretend] tree," he said.
"I was the dead person in that play," said Brian Hickey, 11. "I tried to get people to come down to the underworld. It was a very sophisticated play."
Louis Sciortino portrayed Orpheus, who tries to bring his dead wife back from the underworld. "Usually, you don't get to act in [elementary] school, so it was really cool acting here," he said. And Stephen Moroffko liked making mosaics: "I wrote my name in double letters and covered it with paper squares."