For the last 30 minutes, divide into 2 groups. One group explores Pompeii using Pompeii Touch and/or volcanoes using Britannica Kids: Volcanoes on the iPads, while the other makes volcanoes out of clay and mini water bottles and “erupts” the volcanoes using baking soda, vinegar, food coloring, and dish soap. (I know, messy things plus iPads. I’m a nut.) These are basically the same volcanoes I used for Dinosaur Science Storytime, but because the kids are bigger, I let them make the volcanoes themselves, instead of making them ahead of time.
I ended up with 11 participants, 1 older brother (who participated, but made it clear that he was too old to be there), and 9 adults. The snacks were a big hit, and the kids definitely got the Italy-Pompeii connection. We did a brief go-around about the book. Those who had read it liked it, but several of the families were attending for the first time and the parents didn’t know to read the book. We did have one grandmother who had been to Pompeii who talked about it a little bit, and one boy whose father had been and sent him in with pictures to share. I wanted to leave time for the activities, and it was a big group, so instead of a big group discussion, I read out questions #2, #4, and #5 from the discussion questions below and had them talk in table groups for about five minutes.
For the last 25-30 minutes, we split into two groups to do the activities. I made a bit of a big deal about keeping the iPads clean – at the beginning, as we were breaking into groups, and again as we were switching activities – and we managed not to do any major damage. Both the iPad apps and the volcanoes were loads of fun (although I didn’t think the apps were as cool as the 3-D Pyramid app we used for Who Was King Tut?). Many of the kids had never done a baking soda-vinegar volcano before, and most of them took their volcanoes home to try again.
- What did you think of the book?
- What did you learn? Was there anything you thought you knew about Pompeii that turned out to be wrong? Was there anything that surprised you?
- What things about Pompeii seemed similar to our life now? What things seemed different? If you had the choice of living in pre-eruption Pompeii or here in 2015, which would you choose?
- Marcus and his father decided to go back to warn the people of Pompeii. Do you think that was the right thing to do? What would you have done? Why do you think no one believed them at first?
- Marcus looked to the Roman gods to see how a hero should behave. Who are your heroes? In what ways do you try to behave like they do?