Roman Arch, Alison’s Montessori

  • History, Engineering 6-9+
  • It has always been on my mind to learn about the famous Roman Arch. What is so special about it? Growing up in France, I had a lot of exposure to Roman architecture, but little knowledge about it. Our last exposure was perhaps at the Colosseum in Rome. This experience was going to be the memory that will anchor the learning in the children’s minds. After exploring the Roman Republic in our Fundamental Needs of Human study, we were ready to delve into this civilization with much enthusiasm. The Roman Arch from Alison’s Montessori has allowed us to experience part of what made the Roman Empire so successful. Let me share our experience with you.
Ancient Rome, Fundamental Needs of Humans
  • To begin our experience, I invited the children to take a look at our timeline from Montessori Research and Development. We used this timeline to study Fundamental Needs of Humans; therefore, we were familiar with this great civilization.
  • We then recalled our visit to Rome, and what monuments we had seen that looked like an arch. We looked at pictures, and saw arches, domes, and pillars. I elicited questions about the colossal aspect of the monuments. What does the arch hold up? What could it be made of? The Roman had a brilliant recipe to make durable cement.
  • To spark more interest, we looked at an interesting book named CITY (see picture below). We read about how the Romans built aqueducts to move water from sources to cities, from underground trenches, around mountains, and above humans’ reach.
  • What did the aqueducts had in common? Arches, just like the Colosseum and the Arch of Triumph have. It was time to look at the nomenclature of an arch. We found free printable from Montessori for Everyone that we read together. We used the Wooden Arch model from Alison’s Montessori to illustrate each part: foundation, Pier, Impost, Voussoir, Keystone.
Cards from Montessori for Everyone
  • Now was a good time to build. I let the children explore the shapes, and experiment. Finally, I made suggestions, which helped make progress. After building the arch, and putting weight on it with extra bricks, we removed the slanted piece that supports the semi-circle piece below the arch. To our delight, the arch remained in place.
  • We had read that Romans would put pressure above the arches to strengthen them. I asked the children to use their whole hand over the arch and press downward. They predicted it would collapse. The arch resisted, to their surprise. I then asked “what would happen if we would press downward the keystone?” The children predicted it would remain in place. Once, they pushed with one light finger, the piece slid and everything collapse! This surely left the children amazed.
  • I invited the children to build the Roman Arch on their own in the next days. The Arch was available on the shelf, along with 3 part cards. We also tried to build an arch with ice cube, but we will need more practice on that!
  • This concludes our Roman Arch presentation. I hope this experience will help your learners appreciate ancient architecture even more as well. Please enjoy more pictures below.
  • This experience has been made possible, thanks to Alison’s Montessori for letting us try the Roman arch at no cost, with no requirement. I write unbiased honest reviews to help educators and families make informed decisions when looking for educational materials on specific topics.
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