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Ancient Rome

The Leaning Tower of Pisa is one of the most fascinating structures in Italy. It took hundreds of year to construct. Find out why it tilts.

  • Grade 4
    Grade 5
    Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. Students research the history of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Why does it lean? How long did it take to construct? Discuss their theories as to how this structure has remained standing for over 800 years.
    2. Always work on a clean dry surface. A piece of cardboard or a white paper plate works well for a base. Have students roll out a handful of Crayola Air-Dry Clay to form a cylinder about 1 ½" thick. This will become their Leaning Tower of Pisa.
    3. The tower has 7 sections. Divide the tower in sections by scoring the cylinder with a plastic knife or craft stick. Each floor of the tower has archways all around. Use your thumb or end of a plastic spoon to make indentations to create the arch ways. Make columns on the sides of the archways by rolling small pieces of clay. Press to attach.
    4. On top of the tower make a small cylinder to form the top of the building. This is where they usually fly the Italian flag.
    5. Place the tower on your cardboard base at the correct angle. Press down to make it stay. If the tower becomes loose after drying, use Crayola No Run School Glue to hold it in place.
    6. Surround the tower with background scenery. Make clouds, a sun, people, grass or trees. You might want to research the buildings that surround the tower and recreate them.
    7. To add dimension to the tower by painting the entire scene with Crayola Tempera Mixing Mediums. This medium will add a stone-like appearance to the clay.
    8. The construction will take several days to dry. Air dry clay dries rock hard. There is no need to fire or bake in a kiln.
  • Standards

    LA: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.

    LA: Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly and persuasively.

    LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

    MATH: Draw construct, and describe geometrical figures and describe the relationships between them.

    SCI: Construct drawings or diagrams as representations of events or systems.

    SCI: Construct explanations of phenomena using knowledge of accepted scientific theory and linking it to models and evidence.

    SCI: Solve design problems by appropriately applying scientific knowledge.

    SS: Use appropriate resources, data sources, and geographic tools to generate, manipulate, and interpret information.

    SS: Describe how people create places that reflect ideas, personality, culture, and wants and needs as they design homes, playgounds, classrooms, and the like.

    VA: Select media, techniques, and processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of their choices.

    VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities an characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of their experiences and ideas.

    VA: Describe ways in which the principles and subject matter of other disciplines taught in the school are interrelated with the visual arts.

  • Adaptations

    Students research other structures and/or buildings that are recognizable. Compare and contrast these with the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Create a model of these structures and buildings as a visual to accompany a written summary of research.

    Where's the math? Students analyze the building known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa for all math concepts that were included in its construction. This analysis will vary depending on the age and skill level of the student group. Students can repeat this exercise for an additional building or structure studied.

    What went wrong? Students research why the Leaning Tower of Pisa leans. As the builders of the 21st century, how would they alter the construction techniques used, the location of the building, and other aspects of this building to eliminate the possibility of it leaning?

    Students research buildings that "went wrong" in their city, state, etc. What may have caused a building to become unsafe? What structural features could have made the building survive? Students analyze their research and determine how they would "build it better." Students will provide a written summary of their findings and changes.

    The town of Pisa, Italy is known for two things. One is the Leaning Tower of Pisa. What is the other? Leonardo Fibonacci is a famous mathematician who discovered a unique pattern that is often found in nature and art. Students research Fibonacci, his pattern, and where it can be found in nature and art. Students prepare an electronic presentation of their findings. Students may also search their schools for evidence of Fibonacci pattern.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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