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Geography Club: Italy Unit

Geography Club: Italy Unit {The Unlikely Homeschool}


We recently took a "trip" to Italy in our Co-operative Geography Club. With its rich, historic culture, Italy captivated us.

Here's a look at our travel log...

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Geography Club: Italy Unit {The Unlikely Homeschool}

We began the morning with a little living literature-style learning by reading Papa Piccolo, the endearing tale of an Italian cat and his care for a few stray kittens.

Geography Club: Italy Unit {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Then, we dismissed the younger kids for their book club and began our "trip."

Teaching Time

Basic Facts of Italy

  • Population- 60 million
  • Capital- Rome
  • Major Religion- Roman Catholic 
  • Government- Constitutional Republic
  • Currency- Euro
  • Language- Italian
  • Nationals- Italians

Language Introduction

  • ciao- Hello (informal)
  • buongiorno- good day/good morning
  • gratzi- thank you
  • arrivederci- goodbye

After learning a few general facts about Italy as well as identifying it on the map, we colored an Italian flag to add to our travel journals.

Next, we watched this quick photo tour of Italy.

Then it was on to snack time!

Before enjoying a bowl of Panna Cotta topped with frozen berries, we learned a few Italian dining customs.

Italian Dining Customs & Trivia

Italians take their meals in the following courses:
  • Antipasto- appetizer
  • Primo- the first course, usually soup
  • Secondo- the second course, usually meat with a side dish
  • Dulce- dessert
  • Caffe'- coffee which is served after every meal
The average Italian will consume 55 pounds of pasta each year.  

The female guest of honor is always served first followed by the male guest of honor.

Pizza is thought to have come from Naples and was a dish served to the peasants as it used up all the "extras" of the kitchen.  

Other Notable Italian Facts

  • Italian explorer, Christopher Columbus, is credited for establishing the first LASTING European expedition of the Americas.
  • Galileo Galilei, famed astronomer, was known for championing the idea of heliocentrism, the belief that the sun is the center of the universe. (For a living-literature style introduction to the controversial, scientific views of Galileo, I'd recommend Starry Messenger by Peter Sis.)
  • Italian, renaissance painter, Leonardo da Vinci's most famous works include the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.

Project Presentations

Italian Inventions

After reading through the book Look What Came From Italy, Super Boy put together a bag of items that are known to have originated from Italy. During his presentation, he drew out each item and showed it to the group.

Geography Club: Italy Unit {The Unlikely Homeschool}

His items included:
  • sheet music (to represent the piano and musical notation)
  • pants
  • a newspaper
  • a candle
  • a box of pasta
  • socks
  • a thermometer
  • a Valentine card (to represent Valentine's Day)
  • a small clock
  • pretzels
  • a fork


Using Getting to Know the World's Great Artists: Michelangelo as her main source, Sweetie Pea put together a presentation about Michelangelo. 

She mostly focused on the fact that he was known for sculpting but was commissioned (FORCED) by Pope Julius II to paint a fresco mural of Biblical scenes on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

She talked about how at that time, the Catholic Mass was delivered in Latin. As the common Italians could not read and were quite uneducated, they usually could not understand the Mass. Artists were commissioned by the Roman Catholic church to depict Biblical scenes in order that the common person would be able to learn basic Biblical truths by way of art.

Geography Club: Italy Unit {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Faux Sistine Chapel

Prior to co-op, Sweetie Pea created a list of nine famous Biblical stories that she thought would be easily recognizable to the average person. She wrote each on a slip of paper with a number from one to nine.  

Scenes included:
  • Creation/Adam & Eve
  • Noah and the Flood
  • Moses and the 10 Plagues
  • The Ten Commandments
  • David and Goliath
  • Daniel in the lion's den
  • Jonah and the big fish
  • Jesus' birth 
  • Jesus' death on the cross

On co-op morning, after her Michelangelo presentation, she gave each child one of the slips and instructed each to keep his/her assigned story a secret from the rest of the group.

Geography Club: Italy Unit {The Unlikely Homeschool}

While I taped large sheets of newsprint to the underside of the table, she instructed each "artist" to lay under the table in number order, using the numbers that were included on the slips.  This placed each child in Biblical chronological order.   

Geography Club: Italy Unit {The Unlikely Homeschool}

With markers in hand, each co-op kid got to imitate Michelangelo, painting Biblical scenes upside-down.  

Geography Club: Italy Unit {The Unlikely Homeschool}

Afterward, I gathered all of the murals, brought them to the front, and allowed everyone to guess what Bible story each "artist" created...just like the common Italian would have done during Mass.  

Need more ideas for global "travels," be sure to check out the rest of our Geography Club trips.


  1. Awesome! Those are some great resources. We're spending several weeks in Italy this April and are trying to gear up for the trip by learning about the different artists and inventors. Our favorite Galileo book is I, Galileo and we are using several Mike Venezia books on the artists. I still need to do the painting on Sistine Chapel activity, looks like so much fun!

    1. How exciting! I've always wanted to go to Venice. The Holy Land first, and then Venice. I hope you and your family will have a wonderful time.

  2. I loved this post, the food part made me laugh. We live in Italy (been stationed here in the military for 3 years, still have 2 left) and love EVERY thing about this culture... ok maybe not everything but close. The meals really are that extravagant when you go out -- for the common Italian. Us Americans go for one course and we are out of there! Rarely can I get my kids to sit through a 3 hour dinner, but its super yummy! THanks for sharing!

    1. A three hour dinner sounds divine! I could get used to that.

  3. PS. We live 35 min from Venice and it is such a unique interesting beautiful city, one of our favorite places in Europe. Go if you ever get the chance!