Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Interest-Led Study: Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum

We have been having a wonderful time learning about Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Magic Tree House #13: Vacation Under the Volcano (A Stepping Stone Book(TM))
It all started with my youngest getting interested in the Magic Tree House series.
I must say first that I don't 100% like the series because it talks about magic and glorifies Morgan Le Fey and topics like feminism, but I also have to say that they inspired my oldest to begin reading and now they have encouraged my youngest as well, so, for our family, with a bit of discussion about these issues, they are worth using. They are exciting stories featuring children their age and they are usually set in either a historical or scientific/geographical location. The plots usually are involved around the children on some sort of important mission. I have also found them useful to introduce note-taking since one of the characters, Jack, takes notes from factual books. A paragraph or two from the book is included and then it shows what pertinent words he includes from the paragraph into his notebook, much like I am asking my students to do.
This week we read Vacation Under the Volcano, 
Pompeii...Buried Alive! (Step-Into-Reading, Step 4)
and we also read Pompeii...Buried Alive by Edith Davis .  When we went to the library, I also noticed a book about Pompeii, Bodies From The Ash, Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii by James Deem.
Bodies From the Ash: Life and Death in Ancient Pompeii
In 1863, an excavator discovered, while excavating the site of Pompeii, there were hollow places in the shape of the bodies where the skeletons were found. As it turns out, the bodies covered in hot ash and enveloped by volcanic material decayed, spaces were left around the skeletons. The excavator used an ingenious method of filling these hollow places with plaster, and once the surrounding debris was chipped away, the detailed plaster casts preserved imprints of the people's dying moments, showing their facial expressions and body positions as well as their clothing and possessions. Deem explains how scientists have used these molds and other evidence to piece together the life styles and what the eruption of Mount Vesuvius was like. It also shows the difference in the Pompeii and the nearby Herculaneum.

We were blessed that Hodgepodge posted a tutorial on how to make a pastels picture of a volcano, so we had to do it!
beginning at the upper left corner, James (age 12), Katie (age 21), Alex (age 18), lower left, Katie (21), Quentin (age 8), Phyllis
Notice that Quentin added the Roman citizens to his picture, making a pretty accurate pictorial narration.
And, of course, we had to review what we have learned about volcanoes and have fun with some baking soda and vinegar volcanoes.

 So, an unplanned study took shape almost all on its own because we just let it happen. 



  1. My favourite kind of study! I love it when things line up like this. We're going to be looking at volcanoes when we get home next week - thank you for the Magic Tree House reminder. I love how you all get together to do art :-)

  2. I have the same reservations about The Magic Tree House series, and am glad that you've found an effective way to overcome them. Volcanoes and Pompeii are two topics that have interested my son for a long time as well. I like the different versions of pastel drawings. It's always good to see different interpretations of the same topic. :-)

  3. Anonymous15.3.13

    We loved our time learning about Pompeii and had some really wonderful picture books as a go along - I could look them out if you'd like to know the titles. You looked like you all had lots of fun!

  4. I love the pastels. They came out great. What a fun study.
    Blessings, Dawn

  5. Absolutely wonderful!! It's such fun to make explosions - with baking soda and with art! :)


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