Friday, August 15, 2014

Taking Italy to Kindergarten #2: Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii, and Mosaics

Submitted by Linda
I will confess that I'm not super great at history. In fact, I think that my Oregon public school education was lacking, because I was an adult before I knew the difference between all of the U.S. wars. Or maybe I was a student that was lacking, since I do seem to  remember a lot of report card comments about too much socializing. Either way, I'm now playing catch up on world history. And as an adult, I find history much more relevant and meaningful than I did in my younger days. 

I didn't know much about Mt. Vesuvius and Pompeii, except for this painting that my kindergarten friends get to see and experience on our annual Huntington field trip. It was painted by Joseph Wright near 1776, and depicts the famous eruption of 79 AD. Though he spent several years in Italy, didn't see Vesuvius erupt while he was there.
I was so looking forward to seeing Mt. Vesuvius, that I eagerly snapped this first glimpse from the bus window.
In Pompeii, we had a walking tour of the ruins that was fascinating! Here you can see the street signs (wordless, because of lack of literacy).
So much of the people's stories can be deciphered by the ruins - where and how they lived, what they did for a living, and so on.  We saw some casts of people, made by the ash as they were dying from the gasses. Very sobering and moving.
I love this shot of the ruins in front of the mountain.
Now, let's take a quick time out from Vesuvius for a minute!

 One of the art forms that is visible all over Italy is the mosaic.  This rooster was outdoors on a building in Venice.
These next two were on the floor of the Vatican Museum.

Mosaic even makes its way into advertisements on the sidewalks!
This beautiful fountain was in Northern Italy, in the lake city of Stresa.
So,  let's get back to the mountain! After our tour, we stayed at a hotel right on the Bay of Naples with another gorgeous view of the mountain and the ruins of Pompeii and the new city of Pompei (notice the new spelling).
I decided to have my students create a mosaic of the scene pictured here. I chopped a zillion tiny squares of papers, and began with one group of six students on just the foreground. It was hard to be patient and glue one square at a time. Now look below at the final products: Just for fun we added a tiny bit of lava erupting. I love how they made the green bushes and trees right above the rocks in the foreground.
Throughout our stay at that hotel, I saw various views of Vesuvius, so each group of six friends made a different view, using different colors, for their mosaic.
This pink one was very early in the morning, as the sun was rising.
The picture below shows the view with the blue ocean in the foreground, as well as the version showing the ruins of Pompeii in the foreground.
On the far right you can see the sunrise version!
I love how these turned out, though I will confess we worked in small groups several different days to create each portion of the picture. I like it that they don't all look exactly the same. If you look carefully in the above photo at the mosaic to the left of the thermostat....you will see a very organized careful artist who created her mosaic in mostly an 'AB' pattern. Love it!

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