Roman Villa Literacy

Studying the Romans in Britain gives some terrific opportunities for persuasive writing. In this fun activity for KS2, the children write an estate agent’s listing for a Roman villa. What would persuade a wealthy Roman to buy their villa?

To complete this activity you will need

  • Internet resources showing the layout and functions of a Roman villa (see below) and tablets, netbooks, chrome books or similar  to explore independently
  • An estate agent’s listing for a local property (you need to check the layout of this before the lesson and read through for persuasive words)

As a class, look at the BBC Bitesize resource “What was it like in Roman Britain?” Read sections 1 and 2. Then scroll down to number 3: “What was inside a Roman Villa?”.

Give the children a few minutes to explore the different rooms of the house and read about them on their devices.

Show the class an estate agent’s listing from a property website and look at the layout – this differs from estate agent to estate agent but generally within the listing there is a summary which lists the best features of the property, followed by a description of the rooms.  Choose a listing of a fairly grand house, as Roman villas were very grand indeed!

Ask the children questions such as:

  • Why has the agent used words such as (for example)”spacious” or “substantial”?  Pick the persuasive words out of the listing.
  • Why has the agent included photographs and floor plans of the house?
  •  What would be the most important features to you if you were looking for a house (for example, a garden to play in or being near to the shops)?
  • Now imagine you are a wealthy Roman, what would you be looking for in a new villa? In small groups discuss this and make a list. (For example, a large kitchen for the slaves to prepare food in, a grand dining room for dinner parties.)

The children then write their own listing, paying attention to the features discussed. They can include a picture of the villa as well as a floor plan.

In the plenary, ask children to pair up and read their listings to each other. Who has used the most persuasive language to try to sell their villa?

Extension Ideas

  • In an art lesson, make a model of a villa or mosaics using collage materials.
  • Build a 3D drawing of a villa using SketchUp (or a similar program).
  • Type up the listing using Microsoft Publisher (or a similar program).
  • Research, plan, prepare and eat your own Roman banquet.

Key Misconceptions

Be careful to emphasise that only rich people lived in this kind of house and most people lived in round huts with thatched roofs.

Learning Outcomes

National Curriculum 2014 – English

Years 3 & 4 – Pupils should be taught to plan their writing by:

  • discussing writing similar to that which they are planning to write in order to understand and learn from its structure, vocabulary and grammar
  • discussing and recording ideas

Years 3 & 4 – Pupils should be taught to draft and write by:

  •  in non-narrative material, using simple organisational devices [for example, headings and sub-headings]

National Curriculum 2014 – History

KS2 – Pupils should be taught about: the Roman Empire and its impact on Britain.

This post was written by Sam Collins

Sam teaches in Devon, and has over 20 years experience in primary education teaching Early Years, KS1 and KS2.
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