Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Taking Italy to Kindergarten: The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Submitted by Linda
Many of you know that I had the privilege to visit Italy for two weeks this spring with Craig, who was taking a group of APU Alumni, friends, and parents. He travels a lot, and now and again I get to join in. This was definitely a "bucket list" kind of trip for us. The only problem is that a visit to Italy remains on my "bucket list", because I am so eager to go back again.

Of course I was amazed by the art, history, and architecture, but the warmth of the people, and their hospitality spoke my love language. How could you not enjoy a place where people want to feed you their amazing food?

Since I was released from school to go, it was important to me that I returned with resources and knowledge to teach my students about Italy for our Multicultural Day, which always happens at the end of May. Perfect timing! For years and years I taught about Japan, but this trip converted me to the way of the Italians.

In kindergarten, we can't get too detailed, but they all now know about the iconic leaning tower of Pisa. Many bell towers lean in Europe, but this is one of the most famous. 
Construction on the tower began in 1173, but was halted in 1178 because it was already tilting due to unstable soil.  In 1272 (about a century later) construction resumed, and at that point they tried to compensate for the tilt by making one side taller than the other, which means the tower is actually curved. Construction was halted (due to wars)in 1284, resumed in 1319, and the bell chamber was finished in 1372.

In this photo I'm holding a 'Flat Stanley' that I brought with me for a first grade student at our school.
Over the years, the tower was leaning further and further until they closed it to the public in 1990. After a decade of reconstruction and stabilization work, it was reopened in 2001.  It is now back to the same lean it had in 1838, and is open for folks who would like to buy a ticket and climb to the top.

So after a pretend airplane ride to Pisa (via Youtube), our project was to transform a paper towel tube into their own leaning tower with crayon resist. I'm sure the degree of tilt is not accurate, but they loved doing it!
Thanks to technology, and my amazing teammate Denise, the students also created postcards from somewhere in Italy that they "visited". In the foreground you can see a student in front of the tower. These are super cute - I blurred my little friend's faces for their privacy, but you can get the idea.
Stay tuned for more Italy projects!

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