If you’re a learner who’s interested in ancient Rome then we have some great info for you. And if you’re not in the least bit interested in ancient history then no worries because we get it and we can give you some pointers to get you interested in the ancient world!

Reading on you will find a basic outline of the history of Rome that you can use as a revision tool or refresher on the Roman Empire.

Why Kids Benefit From Historical Know-How

While many would claim that a degree in history is of no practical use, this is a grave misconception. It is through the study of history that we gain a broader sense of our place in this world and how we can learn from the triumphs and failures of the past.

It’s the great events of the past (even ones that happened millennia ago) that have shaped our world.

In fact, you may be surprised at how much influence certain aspects of ancient Roman society still have on our lives today.

Obviously if you’re interested in archaeology, then having a good foundation in history is a no-brainer but the truth is that having an a little appreciation for antiquity can help you appreciate your life, especially when you take into account the many struggles our forefathers went through to get us to where we are today.

That’s the reason why providing a child with a basic understanding of their family history is of such importance. And as you do so you can explain how it all falls into the bigger picture of world history.

In this way you instil a natural inquisitiveness which may inspire them to get involved with important issues and make history themselves!

Why Teach Kids History Lessons?

The Importance of Learning From the Past

Most children (and grownups for that matter) don’t see the point in learning ancient history about a whole bunch of emperors that ruled ancient civilisations or a revolt that caused battles centuries ago. But if they were only to realise how relevant these tales of the past actually are they may have a completely different outlook.

All these social and cultural events have in fact brought us to where we are in this modern era.

Historical events cause chain reactions that have a ripple effect throughout the course of history. Even the ancient Romans have come up with things that lead to enlightenment that still affects us today ... Think of Roman law ...

From ancient Egypt to the Roman Empire and then on to the middle ages and the crusades, each era of global history has made an impression on our world as we know it today.

In order to appreciate where we are in the span of time it’s necessary to understand we came from, that’s the importance of history.

Where Roman History Fits Into Children’s History Lessons

Of course the history of ancient Rome fits into the same timeline for adults and kids but obviously there are some details that aren’t appropriate or relevant for younger learners.

Educators teaching younger children will stick to the fun aspects of Roman life such as public baths, aqueducts and the numerous Roman gods. Older kids could do a more in-depth study of Roman religion and, of course, the scary gladiators.

Youngsters are usually very intrigued to know what life was like for children in “the olden days” and this would be a more appropriate approach as it isn’t necessary for little ones to be exposed to the gruesome side of history. The Roman world, with all its tyrannical rulers and ruthless Roman military in particular, has a number of topics that need to be handled with sensitivity.

The Romans constructed aqueducts throughout their empire and functioning aqueducts still exist in places like France and Spain - Unsplash

Kids would love to know that Roman children also attended school just like them. Educators could explore the various games and activities that children in Rome would keep themselves busy with, as well as the responsibilities Roman people would give to their children (chores is always a contentious topic among kids!).

But apart from the life of a child in the Roman cities there are plenty of other kid-friendly topics such as Roman art, Roman architecture (think Colosseum), Roman government, and the Roman army. Kids could also do a study on a particular Roman emperor such as Augustus Caesar or whoever seemed to capture their imagination.

An Outline of the History of Rome

There is a fantastic timeline on the Ducksters website dedicated to ancient Rome. It describes key milestones form its rise to power in 753 BC to the fall of the Roman Empire in 1453 AD.

  • 753 BC - The city of Rome is founded. Legend has it that the twin sons of Mars, the god of war, named Romulus and Remus founded the city. Romulus killed Remus and became ruler of Rome and named the city after himself. Rome was ruled by kings for the next 240 years.
  • 509 BC - Rome becomes a republic. The last king is overthrown and Rome is now ruled by elected officials called senators. There is a constitution with laws and a complex republican government.
  • 218 BC - Hannibal invades Italy. Hannibal leads the Carthage army in his famous crossing of the Alps to attack Rome. This is part of the Second Punic war.
  • 73 BC - Spartacus the gladiator leads the slaves in an uprising.
  • 45 BC - Julius Caesar becomes the first dictator of Rome. Caesar makes his famous Crossing of the Rubicon and defeats Pompey in a civil war to become the supreme ruler of Rome. This signals the end of the Roman Republic.
  • 44 BC - Julius Caesar is assassinated on the Ides of March by Marcus Brutus. They hope to bring back the republic, but civil war breaks out.
Julius Caesar remains one of the most infamous emperors of Rome, even Shakespeare dedicated an entire play to this powerful ruler - Unsplash
  • 27 BC - The Roman Empire begins as Caesar Augustus becomes the first Roman Emperor.
  • 64 AD - Much of Rome burns. Legend has it that Emperor Nero watched the city burn while playing a lyre.
  • 80 AD - The Colosseum is built. One of the great examples of Roman engineering is finished. It can seat 50,000 spectators.
  • 121 AD - The Hadrian Wall is built. To keep out the barbarians a long wall is built across northern England.
  • 306 AD - Constantine becomes Emperor. Constantine would convert to Christianity and Rome would become a Christian empire. Prior to this Rome persecuted the Christians.
  • 380 AD - Theodosius I declares Christianity to be the sole religion of the Roman Empire.
  • 395 AD - Rome splits into two empires.
  • 410 AD - The Visigoths sack Rome. This is the first time in 800 years that the city of Rome has fallen to an enemy.
  • 476 AD - The end of the Western Roman Empire and the fall of Ancient Rome. The last Roman Emperor Romulus Augustus is defeated by the German Goth Odoacer. This signals the start of the Dark Ages in Europe.
  • 1453 AD - The Byzantine Empire comes to an end as it falls to the Ottoman Empire.

Kids can take this quiz after studying the timeline, to test their knowledge.

An inside look into the Colosseum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site - Unsplash

Quizzing Kiddos on the Romans

Ducksters offers a diverse array of learning material on many historical topics. There’s a really comprehensive section on the Roman civilisation that’s great for kids. With pages dedicated to specific topics of the Roman republic that you can either read with your child or have your child read independently. Every page also offers a quiz which really makes this a fulfilling online learning experience and helps parents to gauge how much their children have comprehended. Try this quiz on the early history of Rome.

Here are a couple more websites that have some great resources on Rome and it’s history that are specifically geared towards children:

  • History for Kids: Ancient Rome
  • National Geographic Kids: Romans

YouTube is another great platform that serves as a rich teaching resource with such a huge array of educational videos. You can find specific clips for whatever it is you are looking for in terms of Roman history.

There’s a wonderful production by TED Ed entitled ‘A glimpse of teenage life in ancient Rome’, that gives kids (especially teens) a perspective into the average day of a young Roman.

The Pantheon is the most well preserved temple in Rome and was built in dedication to all the pagan gods of ancient Rome - Unsplash

A video by National Geographic called ‘Ancient Rome 101’ is just that. Better suited to older kids, this clip provides a basic outline of Ancient Rome with what could be described as a visual and audio timeline. The video is a simple, interesting and informative learning tool and is presented clearly with plenty of educational diagrams. It’s a reliable clip because it caters to many learning styles.

The Happy Learning channel has a video about the Roman Empire that is similar in content to the ‘Ancient Rome 101’ clip but just more simple and age-appropriate for younger learner.

Kids will also love this hilarious clip about the endless list of Roman gods and goddesses. The video is one of many in a series entitled 'Horrible Histories'.

The history of the ancient Rome doesn’t really feature in the South African CAPS curriculum so it’s really up to parents to decide when, if an how they choose to incorporate this fundamental aspect of world history into their children’s education.

With so many resources and bodies of literature on this period, making it part of at-home education isn’t difficult and you would be surprised at how fascinating kids find the ancient world of the Roman people.

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Kyla