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Let’s have a spa day – Ancient Rome style! So book your trip back to Roman Britain, jump in the Roman baths and learn some Roman history in KS2 while you’re at it.
You can’t seem to go on Groupon these days without being offered multiple places to pamper and unwind at a luxurious spa, but everybody knows the ultimate spa experience is travelling back some 2,000 years to truly unwind at the Roman Bath House.
This is a great opportunity for pupils to combine the modern world and Ancient Rome and persuade their customers to relax in the world of the Roman Empire.
Just follow these five easy steps.
This activity works best if pupils already have some knowledge of life in Ancient Roman Britain, so try and place it at least midway through your unit of work. Empire’s End by Leila Rasheed is a superb novel to use as a class text.
Ensure children have an understanding of what life in a Roman city was like – the structures, buildings, culture, beliefs and architecture.
Start by talking about what pupils already know about luxurious activities in our modern world. Has anybody been to a spa? What do we mean by ‘luxury’? Talk about how we unwind, calm down and relax and mention leisure centres and swimming pools.
It’s important for children to really think about their modern context so they’re ready to draw comparisons with the Romans.
Look online at some ‘spa day’ experiences. Talk about how phrases like ‘unwind’ or ‘soothe’ are designed to make us feel. Gather similar language. Talk about how an atmosphere is created in the text and how persuasive writing does this. How should we feel reading about a spa day? Why?
Ask pupils how they think the people relaxed in Ancient Rome. Draw out the conversation based on pupils’ existing knowledge of the Roman Empire and the things that were important to the Romans.
Next, share a range of sources about Roman Baths to encourage a class discussion. This might include a labelled map of a bath house, photos of different houses and video footage of the baths at Bath.
Encourage pupils to draw their own conclusions as a mini historical enquiry.
Ask them to think about the similarities and differences to our modern day, such as the importance of relaxation and the different ‘treatments’.
To enable pupils to talk about Roman spas as an experience, rather than a set of facts, think about the narrative of a spa visit. What would you do, how it would feel and what might it look like? This helps children to immerse themselves in the history and imagine what life was like.
Finally, challenge pupils to launch a 21st-century ‘Roman spa experience’. How can we take the experiences of Roman life and bring them to a modern audience? Design the building and write immersively and atmospherically about what customers can expect.
Adam Jevons-Newman is KS2 and curriculum leader at Farmilo Primary School and Nursery in Nottinghamshire. Follow him on Twitter at @3edmigos.
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