Saturday, November 16, 2013

Rome Unit Study - Government and Military

Week 3: We sent postcards just like the Roman Soldiers and staged the battle which occurred in the Teutoburg Forest.

Rome began with kings, became a republic and was later ruled by emperors. Julius Caesar was the first emperor. When Rome was a republic it was led by two consuls who were elected by the people for one year terms. There were many other government leaders including a city engineer known as an aedile. Ex government officials joined the senate and advised the ruling government.

The military was divided into groups of 5000 men called legions. The legions were further broken down into groups of 100 men called centuries. Two types of soldiers fought to defend Rome. Legionaries were citizens of Rome and Auxiliaries were foreigners who were given a small amount of land and a pension after 25 years of service in the Roman Army.

The majority of the Roman soldiers were stationed on the boarders of the empire. Since they were far home they communicated with them by sending postcards written with ink on sheets of wood.


Since we live in Europe, far from our families in North America we have a lot in common with Roman soldiers and their families. Traveling in Europe we have picked up many postcards. Each child picked one to send to a family member back home.



Arminius was a German who led the battle which completed halted the expansion of the Roman Empire into Germany. When he was around nine years old he was taken from his family to be raised as a Roman soldier. This common practice was one way the Romans converted barbarian culture to Roman culture.

In Rome, Arminius was treated well. When he grew up he fought with the Roman Army along the Danube River and became a war hero. When he was in his 20's he was sent with the Romans to his native land. After arriving in Germany he reunited with his family and began to understand the complicated issues which divided the Romans and the Germans. As a man caught between two worlds, he eventually sided with his family and led a massive rebellion.

Arminius was in charge of a group of Roman cavalry which joined him in the rebellion. As the Roman Army marched from their summer camp across Germany to their winter quarters the Germans hid in the woods and ambushed them. The cavalry unit which followed behind the soldiers attacked the Roman soldiers from behind. Over the course of three or four days three Roman legions were wiped out. (A legion contained 5000 men.) This massacre stopped further expansion of Rome into Germany.

For our battle, the bigger kids dressed as Germans and hid in the forest and waited for the Romans to march through where they were ambushed with leaves.

I happened to have two adult size Roman costumes, so we were easy to spot.


 The girls made Hedgie into a Roman soldier too.

The day before this lesson we had the opportunity to visit the Saalburg Roman Fort on the Limes between then Rhine and Danube Rivers.


The book Roman Fort by Stephen Johnson went perfect with the field trip as well as the lesson. It is a non-fiction book with detailed sketches of forts and fort life. If visiting a real fort isn't possible or even if it is, I would recommend this book to go along with Roman soldier studies. It helped us better understand the differences between auxiliary and legionary soldiers, the purpose of metal masks, and what kept soldiers busy during the day.



I created a set of Slides to go with this unit. Please feel free to print them for personal or classroom purposes.

To see more of our Roman unit study please visit our History Page.





This post is linked to: 
Carnival of Homeschooling 
Montessori Monday

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