Saturday, June 13, 2009

"BAM! You're Dead!"

No, Natalia did not have some terrible accident. Her face, of course, is Mount Vesuvius. Exploding. And if she looks at you and shouts, "BAM!"... Well, you're frozen in time like the people who died instantly at Pompeii. In the background, incidentally, is Mount Vesuvius... I took these pictures when our group was near Naples.

She has been shrieking "BAM!" a lot. 

The younger kids painted each other's faces and bodies the other day at the beach, picking some theme related to their trip to Italy. They had so much fun!

Luckily that lovely black and red mess washed off in the salt water!

Natalia and I, unfortunately, never did make it to Pompeii the other day... She was still too sick to go... There's no way I could have taken her on a day trip of outdoor walking in very hot sun while she had a fever...

She did, however, sit in on the classes I taught about Pompeii and she is now obsessed with volcanoes. 

This is what I did: 
  • Based on their trip to sites from Ancient Rome, I asked the kids to imagine what daily life was like during that time. How did people spend their time? What kinds of jobs did people do? What did they do for fun? What was home life like? 
  • We then wrote those ideas on slips of paper and they had to draw one out of a hat and act it out. For this part they spoke English and made little dialogues with a partner for their scenes.
  • I then put on a piece of music that sounds "happy-go-lucky," but has some tension, barely noticeable, in the background--but it slowly builds... During this, for almost a minute, they acted out their scenes all at the same time, without talking.
  • When the cymbals then clash and there's an "explosion," I stopped the music and shouted, "FREEZE!" They then stayed in whatever position they had  been in. 
  • I then shouted, "You're not in Rome... You're in Pompeii, and you have all just died! Look around at all of your classmates... Everyone in Pompeii was just going about normal life that fateful day in August 79 AD... Those figures you'll see tomorrow were actual people, many your age, with similar daily routines..."
I hoped that by doing this exercise, they would see Pompeii from a more personal point-0f-view. I couldn't accompany them on that day trip, but they told me afterward what a super time they had.


Anonymous said...

When I was somewhere between 5 and 7 my mother and I were in the Russian museum in Leningrad one weekend. We were looking at all age appropriate paintings - Shishkovs bears, Aivazovsky sea scenes etc. At some point we got very tired and sat on the bench in the middle of the long hall. We were facing opposite walls.
I was facing rather large and disturbing painting - people in strange dresses where running away from something I could not identify. Some of them where holding their children. It looked very upsetting. I came closer and read the plaque - K. Brullov "The last day of Pompeii". I had no idea what it was about, but had nightmares about this painting for very long time. I still remember it more than 50 years later.
About 20 years after the trip to a museum I visited the real place and settled my fears with Pompeii.


Annie said...

Olga's response is interesting because I, too, have been haunted by Pompeii for years - ever since I first heard of it, which was probably in some middle school social studies class. I think there were any case I was struck cold with the horror of it. For years every time someone mentioned it, or I thought of it, I was immediately nauseated. I would not have needed ANY reminders to make it personal! I think you better check your students for trauma!

But, perhaps if there had been more than the simply reading about it, I could have "worked through it". I don't know. Why do I doubt it? Somehow I THINK I've sort-of gotten over this. I read your post without getting sick to my stomach, anyway.

Tina in CT said...

What a surprise to get your call. When the recording came on, I thought it was some solicitation and almost hung up. Good thing I didn't. When I heard that it was you, at first it scared me that something was wrong. Glad you and the girls are having such a fantastic time. Enjoy the rest of your stay and visit with the M's.

Just think, you are escaping the pukh.

Ju said...

That's a really cool activity for kids! I really wanted to visit Pompeii since when I read about this city when I was 7. Too bad you didn't go! =(

Tina in CT said...

Hope it worked out to go visit the M's with the girls this week. Enjoy the rest of the school trip.

It's rained and rained here in CT. I have water everywhere (where it's not suppose to be).

Susan said...

Tina, you sound like me, always expecting the worst. My kids didnt dub me Miss Worse Case Scenario for nothing!
I feel your pain, only you have been going through it a lot longer than I have:)
What a wonderful experience for the kids on that trip!