Ok, Now I Want To Go To Italy

Mini lego gondolas; poles are white strips of paper attached to crayons with Dotto scrapbooking adhesive

I mean a lot.  I’ve always wanted to go, but now that we’ve spent the week learning about it, I really, really, super duper want to go.  Plus my cousin just went to Irsina, Italy, where our family is from, and posted all her photos on Facebook.  So I’m pining for Italy.

We had an awesome time with F.I.A.R.’s Papa Piccolo by Carol Talley with illustrations by Itoko Maeno .  This was week two for us.  You can see our main activities from last week as well.

This week we studied the beautiful water color drawings in the book.

Making chalk.

We mixed the primary colors of red, blue, and yellow to come up with with more colors like orange, purple, and green.  This was part science experiment, part art lesson, as we also had a little science kit to then make colored sidewalk chalk.    The Queen Bee learned how to use a pipette to draw up and squeeze out water and Firefly did several experiments with the chalk making and color mixing kit.  He had 3 choices of what might occur in each experiment and had to hypothesize what he thought would happen.

We checked out whatever books we could find on Italy, Marco Polo and Venice at the library.  Learning about Marco Polo’s adventures was a favorite.  Firefly has announced that he, too, wants to be an explorer like Marco Polo and also Ralph S. Mouse (of The Mouse and the Motorcycle fame), who wants a life of danger and excitement.  Mommy hopes that by the time he is a teenager, he will be content with exciting activities like jogging or basket weaving, otherwise I foresee a lot of worry in my future over this kid.  Anyway,…

Making pumpkins. Paint, candy corn, tissue paper, glue & even some goldfish crackers (Firefly's idea).

We found some other wonderful go-along books, suggested by Angela on her wonderful blog, Satori Smiles.  We especially loved Madeline and the Cats of Rome by John Bemelmans Marciano and Zoe Sophia’s Scrapbook: And Adventure in Venice by Claudia Mauner and Elisa Smalley.  The Zoe Sophia book inspired us to watch Italian opera of YouTube.  We spent a lot of time listening to and watching Luciano Pavarotti and others.

Other go alongs that we enjoyed included Sneakers, the Seaside Cat by Margaret Wise Brown of Goodnight

Firefly's cake. Gondolas in the Grand Canal of Venice.

Moon fame.  And The World in The Time of Marco Polo by Fiona MacDonald not only talks about Marco Polo but other things going on around the world at that time.

We listened to Italian language cd’s checked out from the library while we built lego gondola’s.  We made some small ones to go on our Cake of Venice.

Big Lego Gondola w/ Gondolier Luigi, cat Papa Piccolo, and random lego spaceman.

Then Daddy built a big gondola out of Legos and we had fun finding a “Luigi Barbaro” gondolier. We modified a cowboy hat, added a Wikki stick ribbon and a drinking straw oar and he was ready to go.  We found a cat to represent Papa Piccolo but sadly, no kittens.  Ah, well.

We also watched videos of gondola rides on YouTube.  There are many videos there from Gondoliers in Venice, but the ones from the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas are fun, too, because the gondoliers always sing.

The Queen Bee's cake. Daddy helped to make "waves" in the water.

As you can tell, we really loved learning about gondolas.  Or as The Husband’s cousin, Brenda, calls them, “Grenadas”.  Brenda is from a small town in Western Pennsylvania, which she’s left only once, to go on the trip of a lifetime, to Las Vegas.  She visited The Venetian hotel and exclaimed, ‘They got them Grenadas and a crick runnin’ right through the hotel!”  “Crick” means creek in Western Pennsylvania-ese.  The Husband would now like me to remind you that this is a very, very distant cousin of his.

Finished pumpkin cut-outs.

Another cool experience we had was to use Google Earth to find Italy.  Zooming in on Venice, you can actually see satellite views of gondolas, canals, and more.  We had fun exploring Google Earth for an entire afternoon.  I was so pleased to find that they now had a version compatible with my computer, as I couldn’t seem to get this program to work a year ago.  We went back and looked at all of the countries we’ve studied so far this year and then a few random ones.  We looked up our own house and could see our car in the driveway!  We looked up the houses of other family members, then somehow, Firefly wound up clicking on Hawaii and there were a couple of videos of underwater vehicles with narration about certain fishes and a documentary about seals.  This was a “follow the rabbit trail” kind of day for sure and we had a lot of fun.

beautiful fall foliage

Mommy also found some “teachable moments” in surprising places.  I found that if I have a book or something on the computer ready to go at the breakfast or lunch table, I have a captive audience.  I knew Firefly would balk at the Marco Polo book, but when I started reading it at breakfast, he became intrigued.

I also played Italian music and language cd’s on a portable cd player while the kids were playing, doing clean-up or eating.  I’d give them a few facts about it here and there but mostly just stayed quiet.

Now we are gearing up for our next world adventure.  We are going to Japan for the next two weeks with our F.I.A.R. rowing.  Stay tuned.

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6 Responses to Ok, Now I Want To Go To Italy

  1. AprilS says:

    Love this! All the cute gondolas and great books! How did the sidewalk chalk kit go? I’ve always wanted to get one as it looks like fun and I love sidewalk chalk.

    Can’t wait to see how the Japan unit goes. That is the place where I really, really, super-duper want to go.

  2. The Husband says:


    The correct way to say it is “…them there Grenadas” 🙂

    You can take the cousin out of Western PA, but you can’t take the Western PA out of the cousin…

    Yinz take care!

  3. Elaine says:

    Just stopping by from the weekly wrap up! Sounds like a great week! You make me want to go to Italy!

  4. Thanks for all the comments! @April, the sidewalk chalk kit was great! It worked perfectly even though the directions were a bit imprecise and we had to guess at some things. The molds for the chalk are great and can be used for other things. We are thinking of making candy with them. Yum.
    @The Husband, thanks for the Western Pa. dialect lesson. You are right. She did say, “them there grenadas”. How could I forget? 🙂

  5. Theresa says:

    Great blog! I am so happy to have found you on Secular Homeschooling!

    I am Sicilian and I would LOVE to go to Italy! I am inspired by your unit on Italy!

  6. Thank you, Theresa! We had so much fun with Italy. I could go on and on for weeks with Italy activities. But alas, we are off to Japan next week.
    Thanks again for stopping by. 🙂

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