The Roman Empire is a fascinating topic for students to learn. Many students are enthralled by the life of the Romans and their influence on society today. They are often eager to break away from the textbooks to delve into some school projects around the Romans; the subject of the Romans does in fact provide the foundation for in-depth and entertaining school projects.
Journal of Pompeii
Give students an overview of the last days in ancient Pompeii either through videos, Internet resources or books. Give them a project that covers the course of a few days or weeks to produce a journal. Give students a brief time-line of around 12 to 13 days before the volcanic eruption that destroyed Pompeii and ask them to write an informative account of life as a Roman before the eruption, during the eruption and after (if the student chooses to allow their character to survive).
Students will use relevant information from resources given beforehand, such as dates of the eruption, key events and possibly key figures of the story. Each journal entry must be dated in conjunction the time-line provided and the time of events shown from resources.
Introduce students to the basic social structure of the Roman Empire (slaves, freedmen, citizens, patricians, plebians, soldiers, senators or emperors) and divide them into groups. Assign each group a social role from the Roman Empire and have them research their role in the empire. Ask each group to produce a brief poster of how people in their social role lived, how they were treated and what standing they had in the Roman Empire.
Each group will then present its poster and deliver information regarding its social role and what they have learned. Students can also produce short role-play pieces from these social roles from key Roman events; for example, they can re-enact the death of Caesar and other surrounding events with the students playing their Roman social roles.
Show students some basic influences the Roman Empire has had on culture and society today. Split the students into groups and allot each a subject, such as language, law, entertainment, military or religion. Require the groups to research how the Roman Empire has influenced their subject. Have them prepare to present the information to the rest of the class.
Ancient Rome Script/Role Play
Split students into groups and assign a leader from ancient Roman warfare (for example Augustus, Marc Antony, Agrippa, Scipio Africanus, Caesar or Pompey). The groups will be required to research their leader further and identify key events involving their leader which could be used to produce a short play to present to the class.
After researching their leader the groups must devise a short script on a dramatic event in their leader's life. Students must write a script containing at least two characters (including the leader) but does not have to include every team member acting out the scenario. Once students have devised a simple script and allocated character roles to their team members they must present the short script to the class, who may try and identify the event that is acted out.
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