The ancient Romans invented the rounded arch, often referred to as the Roman arch. The Romans used these arches in the construction of the famous Roman aqueduct. They built arches using primitive cement made of clay and water. The centre brick, or the "keystone," bolstered the entire arch. Complement your history lesson about Roman architecture with a hands-on Roman arch project.
Build an Arch
Provide students with small wooden blocks and let them try to build their own arches. You'll need a few trapezoidal pieces to use as keystones. Give the students minimal instruction and let them experiment with different ways to put up the arch. A large U-shaped block or guide might help students to build the arch shape, but don't forget to test the completed arch's stability by removing the U-shapes. After a difficult period of trial and error, students will have a greater appreciation for the feat of engineering required to build an arch.
Make an Arch Model
Have students make simple models of Roman arches out of cereal boxes or other cardboard boxes. They won't have to worry about the engineering problem of building an arch, so they can focus on learning the vocabulary associated with this important feature of Roman architecture. Once students have cut an arch shape out of their box, have them paint or colour the arch and label its different elements, including the keystone, voussoir, imposts, pier and foundation. Refer to the first Resource link for a diagram.
Help students learn Roman architecture vocabulary with a fun word search. You can generate word searches with your own list of words at the third link under References, or the Puzzlemaker page at the Discovery Education website, where you can also make a crossword puzzle, as well as other types of puzzles.