Roman Engineering, Emperors and Landmarks

Week 7: We made a groma and wooden forms used to construct arches.

Arches, concrete and slaves were the keys to Roman construction projects.

Arches are visible all over the city from the colosseum to the forum. They are found in aqua ducts, the Pantheon and countless other Roman structures. Concrete was made from volcanic ash, lime, sand and water. Knowledge of concrete enabled the Romans to create huge monuments.

Many of the emperors embarked on massive construction projects. Trajan built a new forum which was similar to the grocery store/shopping mall complexes we are familiar with. Hadrian built the Pantheon which was a temple to the gods, and Caracalla built an enormous bath. The projects served to keep the emperors in good standing with the people and so were excellent political tools.

City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction is a David Macaulay book that goes perfectly with this lesson. To build the fictional Roman City Verbonia, the planners first thought about future population size. Next they designed a water system and marked off the land for specific purposes. The story details how aqua ducts, temples, housing, forums, baths and other city elements were designed and built. I highly recommend this book for second grade and up. I found it very interesting.

I put together this presentation on Engineering, Emperors and Landmarks Slides. Please feel free to download it for personal use.

One tool the Romans used to help them construct roads was called a groma. Roman roads were almost always straight and intersected at 90 degree angles. A groma was the main tool used to construct straight roads. It stood at eye level and by looking down one leg of the groma like the site of a gun, the Romans could create a straight line for the road to follow.

Groma Project

water bottle
craft sticks
embroidery floss

The craft sticks were glued together at a 90 degree angle to the lid of a water bottle. The bottle threads allowed the groma to be rotated.

String was tied to the ends of the craft sticks and beads were used as weights to hold the strings down. A groma is level when the strings hang parallel to the base.

Roman Arch Forms

To construct arches the Romans used wooden forms. The form was placed under the arch and concrete was poured around the form to create an arch. Once the concrete hardened, the wooden form was removed and used for the construction of another arch.

All the children were shown pictures of various wooden arch form and given craft sticks and glue to create arch forms. Each child produced a unique form.

This post is linked to:
Homegrown Learners
Five for Friday
All Things Beautiful
It's Playtime
Montessori Monday
Deceptively Educational

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  1. Wow I love that idea. We have yet to study it! Enjoy your weekend.

  2. I love how deeply you go into history and how you can make it hands on. Thanks for sharing with Afterschool!

  3. Fun ideas for history. It's a time period we haven't spent much time in yet :-)

  4. I love the depth and hands on history you do. Looks like a fun week :)

  5. I love that you had them re-create the architecture!

  6. I love this! I am definitely going to do this once we get to Rome. I love that you are ahead of me!

    1. Oh we're not ahead. We are just studying different topics.


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