World Travelers: Italy

World Travelers: Italy
Grades K-5

My goal with this series is to bridge cultural gaps in children's literacy. I also learn about the countries in the process, and even the parents get involved with asking questions. Sometimes I bring in a special guest or two that has lived or visited that specific country and they tell about their experiences and share items from there. The more this program develops, the better it gets!


PPTs available upon request.
Each child that attends gets a passport. I created a template to save ink, then filled in the space with the airplane and the quote with stamps. The inside pages are from this template, and each time a child comes to the program, they get a special stamp on the inside. 

I found this snazzy playlist of traditional Italian music on YouTube. It played in the background during the program.

I've began showing a PowerPoint presentation at the very beginning. I find this visual to be much more helpful in connecting images and new information. My assistant and I also dress up in traditional clothing to show the types of fashion that were popular through time and classes. After this particular country, I decided it was time to bring the snood back for bad hair days!

Each child received a page of questions and had to find the answers hidden around the library. Here are some random facts I used:
  1. Italy, also known as Repubblica Italiana (Italian Republic) or Italia, also has been nicknamed  'Bel Paese' which means “beautiful country.”
  2. While the official language is Italian, many areas can also speak German, French and Ladin (a dialect mainly spoken in the Dolomite Mountains in Northern Italy), which sounds closer to Romansh of Switzerland than Italian. 
  3. The colors of Italy’s flag represent these virtues: hope (green), faith (white), and charity (red).
  4. The name Italy comes from the word italia, meaning “calf land,” maybe this was because the bull was a symbol of the Southern Italian tribes.
  5. Italy's first societies emerged around 1200 B.C. Around 800 B.C. Greeks settled in the south and Etruscans arose in central Italy.  
  6. Family is very important in Italy and the Italians celebrate loads of holidays. They all get together and eat large meals. The two most important holidays are Christmas and Ferragosto, on 15th August, when everyone heads to the beach
  7. Italy is known for its scientists as it is for its artists. Leonardo da Vinci was the first to prove the world is round and not flat.  Alessandro Volta was the pioneer who did studies in electricity, hence the name 'Volt' describing a unit of electricity.
  8. Rome was the capital of the Roman Empire, which started in 753 B.C, spreading from Europe to northern Africa, and lasted until 476 A.D., for over 1200 years!
  9. Italy has many earthquakes and volcanoes due to the conflict between the Eurasian and the African tectonic plates. The volcanoes Etna and Vesuvius are a constant danger to humans due to their closeness to big cities.
  10. Italy was the birthplace of the Renaissance, which was a period of great cultural achievements in poetry, painting and architecture. Famous artists such as Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, and Leonardo Da Vinci were part of the Renaissance.
Each station has a description of the history and uniqueness of the specific craft they are making. I also provide examples as well.

One of the first things people associate with Italy is gondolas! This was an easy craft I was able to print off via Crayola.  

Carnival Mask
In honor of the Carnival of Venice, we made masks from hand tracings. Carnival masks go far back in history for the Italians, and can be fun for all ages.

Construction paper in various colors
Dowel rods
Washi tape
Glitter glue and/or stickers to decorate with
Scissors (although I would recommend ripping instead, to create that blurry Monet effect)


Roman Helmet
Taking note of the influence the Roman Empire had on garb (especially armor), I decided to include a helmet craft. Kids enjoyed decorating their own helmets and wearing them for historical role play. Find printables here.

As a lover of Renaissance Faires, I had to include one of my favorite takeaways from last year's Middle TN Faire...a mini catapult! I honestly could have set this thing in the middle of the room and had nothing else. By the end of the program, everyone just wanted to shoot things at the wall!

RECEPTION: Italy was one of my favorite programs so far, especially since I was able to emphasize the renaissance. I will note, this is also a good time to use the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to talk about renaissance art (I provided this information in the PowerPoint and coloring pages). And if you decide to teach Italy, be sure to have a catapult handy (and plenty of armor)! 

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