Saturday, July 28, 2007

Mosaics, Roman Arches and the Archimedes Screw-Ancient Rome Art Projects

When we studied Ancient Rome last spring we made the following art projects. I didn't have my own digital camera yet, so I have few process photos of any of our projects or schooling last year...or from previous years. However I'm looking forward to taking lots of pictures of our upcoming school years because I now have my own digital camera and I've finally learned how to upload photos to my computer and how to figure html code for blog posts!

Anyway, my kids' Ancient Roman projects are pictured below!   

Here are my son's art projects...

and here are my daughter's art projects...

Our focal art project was the mosaic. These are so quintessentially Roman, yet we see them everywhere today. We had to do a mosaic. We went to Hobby Lobby and picked some pretty colored tile meant for crafting a mosaic. My son chose bronze while my daughter chose pink. I also perused the mosaic tiling section and bought anything that looked necessary to do this project! I helped the kids draw the cross. It would be easiest to tile square tiles in a rectangular area for our first project.
We had leftover tumbled square tiles leftover from tiling our kitchen backsplash that I wanted to use to surround the cross.  I helped them carefully smash the tile outside. We wrapped it in a towel and smacked the bundle with a hammer. Then they agonized trying to fit the tile pieces to fill in the background. Now that we have done this, I don't recommend using these two types of tile. I thought I'd be saving money (which we did) and it would look pretty to have a neutral background to show off the cross (which it does). However pounding that kitchen tile was agony. Also it is much thicker. It stands a bit above the cross, which is now recessed a bit in the tumbled stone. All in all though, I like them a lot. Seven years later they are still displayed on a shelf in my kids' rooms.
Next I wanted to make the arch, which is also so importantly architecturally.  My son made his out of styrofoam, the type I use to poke my flowers into in the vase. He does not recommend this. Again I was trying to save money and again it was a huge challenge. He used an assortment of any tool he could find to whittle the shapes out. Then he used toothpicks to put it together.  Then he used a dull edge to etch some writing with his Roman name into the side. Then he painted it. I'm sure there's an easier way but he is quite the artist and it came out quite nicely.
None of us remember how my daughter made her arch. Because my son's project would have been too difficult for her, I think we used clay to make a flat piece.
My son also wanted to make a sundial. He took some cardboard and shaped it into a circle, then spray painted it with stone paint. He's super good with fiddling and he fiddled whatever he needed to make it look like that.
Meanwhile my daughter made the flower crowns for us and the jewelry, which are the square metal and jewel objects on the table.
Finally my son made an Archimedes Screw. Since he is in the fifth grade, I like to line up science with our history studies. Actually, he asked me to do this and I liked the idea! The Archimedes Screw (and the arch) were great science projects! I thought I had pictures of this but cannot find them. We used materials found around the house, like one of my many plastic storage boxes, rocks from the yard, a portion of our soaker hose that I asked my husband to cut, and water. It actually worked! I don't remember exactly how we made it, but many google searches can bring up ideas. Here is one I found.
 Since that time we have seen an Archimedes Screw at the Witte Museum in San Antonio that we were allowed to play with! Then while hiking on Assateague Island in Virignia he saw a real one in operation!
That's what I love about these projects. They are sometimes a bit of an agony to make, but the kids are so proud of them when they are done, and the memories linger. Later when we go out and about and see a masterpiece of what we tried to imitate, the kids immediately know what it is, how it was done, and they apprectiate the craftsmanship because they struggled to make a fair representation of one. Usually they stand there and say...Wow!

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