Explore Italy and Italian culture
This Lesson Plan is intended to inspire children aged 5-7 years. The aim is to consolidate and continue the learning about pasta and other Italian food, by building on the interest and enthusiasm that has been generated by the video tour. The creative activities involve spoken language, writing comprehension, mathmatics and design and technology, as well as developing the children's cultural awareness of Italy. The activities may be done independently of each other and are intended as a selection from which you may pick and choose the most appropriate for your class or setting.
Signor Ragu's request
Tell the children that they are becoming young pasta experts and that their services are required.
Explain that an Italian chef – Signor Ragu – is going to be opening an Italian restaurant in the area and would like the children’s help to decide on the best pasta dishes to put on the menu. He wants only two pasta dishes to begin with. (It is a very exclusive restaurant!)
You might wish to tell the children about some of the different types of eating establishment there are in Italy, such as these:
Ristorante – the Italian word for restaurant, serving meals with several courses available.
Trattoria – similar to a ristorante, but may be a little smaller and a little less formal.
Pizzeria – specialising in pizza, but may also serve other things.
Bar – a café-style place where you might pop in for a drink, a snack, breakfast or a light lunch.
Firstly, allow the children to choose their two favourite pasta shapes (from a variety of dried pasta).
Set out the pasta shapes in different bowls or plates. Put a bag or container next to each one. Give the children two tokens each and tell them that they must put one token in two of the containers next to their two favourite shapes.
When all the children have chosen, together empty the bags or containers and either stick the tokens on a pre- prepared chart to form a bar chart, or count them together, note down the results and ask the children to produce their own charts.
Ask questions such as which pasta shape is our favourite / least favourite.
Get the children to think of or write other questions or comment on the results.
Once the two pasta shapes are chosen, they must decide on the accompanying flavours.
If possible, allow the children to taste different options prepared with the favourite pasta shapes. They could include four or five ingredients from the download (1/5-7/post pasta), such as:
• cheese of any kind, finely grated and sprinkled
• a little olive oil and basil
• a simple tomato sauce
• combinations of any of the above.
Once again, the children should have the opportunity to vote for their favourite two accompaniments to the pasta.
If tasting is not possible, simply provide the options for them to vote on.
Once the two favourite pasta dishes have been decided upon, the children may write to Signor Ragu, telling him what the choices are.
The children could then set about making menus for the restaurant. These might include the following:
• The restaurant name (decided by the children).
• Names for the two pasta dishes (the special ‘signature dishes’ of the chef).
• Descriptions of the pasta dishes.
• Any other foods, other than pasta, or drinks that might be suitable for an Italian menu.
• The prices.
• A suitable cover/menu design.
The children may be interested to learn about gelato, as this is a well-known Italian invention and speciality, and there are many flavours they could include (or they could invent their own).
If appropriate, the menu could be produced on a computer.
If possible, set up a role-play area for children to use their menus.
This would provide a lovely opportunity for children to learn a few simple Italian words/phrases that could be written up around the area:
buon giorno – good morning/afternoon
ciao – hello/bye
per favore – please
scusi – sorry
grazie – thank you
come sta? – how are you?
prego – you’re welcome
vorrei – I would like
buona – good
pasta – pasta
pizza – pizza
no – no
si – yes
Arrange for some feedback from Signor Ragu so he can say what he thinks of the children’s menu choices and the menus. He might visit the classroom (in the form of a willing role-play volunteer or possibly a puppet), or he might send the children a thank-you letter and tell them how well their choices have been received.
Why not have an Italian Day?
Send a letter or message home to parents/carers to inform them there will be a day of Italian-themed activities. There might be people in your school community with specialist knowledge who would be prepared to be involved (e.g. someone who speaks Italian, someone who has photographs or stories to share from a holiday, or even a pizza- making expert).
If appropriate, ask the children to bring in some kind of Italian food to share. It might be a recipe they have made at home or maybe a piece of Italian cheese, some parma ham, olives or panetone. Have a tasting session as part of the day or an Italian-style lunch.
Use the passports and ideas from the introductory ideas to ‘fly’ to Italy. Download farm to fork passport.
Play a traditional Italian team game such as one of these:
• Tamburello – like tennis, but played with a tambour or tambourine.
• Bocce – like a game of bowls, where the aim of the game is to roll your ball closest to a central jack. It is traditionally played with metal balls, but these could be adapted to any small balls of your choice.
Learn some simple greetings in Italian. A few words and phrases are given above. Depending on the age of the children, you might challenge them to prepare a short conversation in Italian, perhaps for use in a restaurant. They will need access to the internet or books for translations.
Listen to some traditional Italian music. There is a wide range available, including traditional folk music and beautiful operatic arias. You might like to find and play the very well-known ‘O Sole Mio’ or ‘La Donne e Mobile’.
Learn some of the steps of the Tarantella (the national dance of Italy) and perform it. Search on the internet for simple video tutorials.
Read a traditional story from Italy, such as ‘Pinocchio’ or ‘The Little Girl Sold with the Pears’. Children could retell one of the stories, perhaps using a story map or puppets.
Make a simple Italian dish. You may have a volunteer who has a speciality that they could share or you might use the Perfect Pizza or Muffin Pizza recipes that are available to download from www.eathappyproject.com.
Supporting downloadable materials are: