Drawing the Roman Domus 1

This week’s post is a guest post by Katy Ganino Reddick

My domus project needed  a makeover.  I stopped assigning students to make models of Roman homes years ago because more time went into building the structure than understanding how the rooms interacted.  I wanted students to create something but for the thinking to outweigh the creating.  I started thinking about drawing a house plan, but huge.  Then, it came to me- sidewalk chalk!  Students would create the sort of remains an archaeologist might have to interpret, but using only chalk.

Each student was given a small card with a list of rooms they needed to include in their domus.  They had three minutes to write down any notes they might need to help them accomplish the task.  My classroom has never been so quiet before!  Then we headed outside.  Outside is always magical.  Once outside, students formed groups based on the colors of their cards.  Each person was allowed one piece of chalk and away they went!  Students dialogued, discussed, argued about where the rooms should be placed, talking about the axis lines and symmetry.  They were applying the information they learned by designing their own house.  Meaningful content!


I was stunned by how quickly students drew; they were done in record time.  It was such a beautiful day and I was so proud of them that I didn’t want to bring them in right way and I had a brainstorm- Domus Twister!  Put your right foot in the impluvium, your left hand in a cubiculum, your left foot in a taberna.  Hilarity ensued!


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