Here are some words about our current Mantle of the Expert work, which is with a class of year 4 students.

In this Mantle of the Expert unit the children are in role as a team of earth scientists who work in a fictional company called 'Geo Ready' (modelled on New Zealand’s real crown institute ‘GeoNet’).

Working in this role children will have jobs and tasks to complete that will lead to learning about:

a. New Zealand’s geological hazards: volcanos, earthquakes, and tsunami

b. Scientific equipment used to measure land movement/activity

c. How earth scientists at 'GeoNet' decide where to place their different monitoring systems. In making these decisions children will have to consider things such as types of land forms and rocks in an area, environmental factors such as weather, read maps, investigate history of land, look at old land records, and investigate land ownership and explore ways to seek permissions from land owners.

The work will involve inquiry research, writing in a range of genres including letter writing and report writing, reading a range of materials including lots of map-work covering a variety of keys and scales, and mathematical skills including measuring, and diagram/graph work.

We hope you enjoy sharing our learning journey and the discoveries we make! You can also read past learning journeys by selecting from 'Previous Mantle of the Expert Work at Muritai School', which is a tab on the right hand side of this blog page.

Detail from a map of Wellington geology

Sorting rocks

27 August 2012



Our Dig Site!

Today we went on another excavation.  We set up our dig site, using masking tape to mark out our dig squares.  In each square an ‘artifact’ was placed upside down to be uncovered.  Before anyone 'uncovered' an artifact we played at being archaeologists.  This was lots of fun.  Everyone chose a square to work in and everyone had their tool kits and log books for recording their finds.  

Using their archaeology tool kits everyone selected tools to start their excavation work.  Looking around you could see what tools everyone was using by how they were moving – the drama was impressive, everyone stayed in role really well.
Using small brushes.

Digging and using a camera.

Using a measuring tape.


Then everyone FROZE!  I shoulder tapped children in each square and that was their cue to ‘uncover’ their artifact.  This worked really well and the acting again was fantastic.  Once the group in each square had uncovered their artifact and discussed  some initial responses to what it might be they froze again and we listened to another square find their artifact.

When all the artefacts had been 'uncovered' we all went back into role and everyone started work on recording information about their find in their archaeology log books.


All the artefacts were taken back to the lab for further research. Our discoveries today gave us the starting point for another round of inquiry work.  Everyone was busy researching and recording information in their log books.  It was great to listen to how much everyone has learned about ancient Greek artefacts already.  All the artefacts today were new but everyone drew on the knowledge and language from our term's work to interpret what they had found.

The group are starting to sound like real archaeologists!

Inquiry work back in the lab.
Here is a list of the artifacts we uncovered today:

  • 3 pottery amphoras showing sporting practice/exercises with servants playing music while they worked.

  • Caryatids (lady columns) on the “Porch of Maidens” from the Erectheion on the Acropolis in Athens.  These columns were sculpted in the Golden Age by Phedias who also worked on the famous sculpture, Athena Parthenos, that we studied earlier.

  • A marble sculpture of Greek Wrestlers from about 510BC.  We did some inquiry around how wrestling was part of everyday life for the ancient Greeks and how school boys were taught wrestling along with reading, writing, and maths. 
  • A piece of pottery, perhaps a vase or bowl, showing the God Dionysus and a Satyr. We did some inquiry around this God and how he was represented in artworks with a fennel staff and a wreath of grape vines – being god of wine, music, and parties!  We also learnt about how satyrs were part goat and often followed the god Dionysus playing panpipes.  We will be able to add this information to the guides we have been writing on Greek Gods and Mythical Creatures.
  • Pottery jars being used as a water clock.  We knew all about water clocks from our play in the agora/pnyx last week!
  • Pieces of pottery showing Greek armour.  We did some inquiry around Greek soldiers and the types of armour they used.  We found out that the ancient Greek soldiers were called Hoplites.  Their round shield was called an ‘aspis’, their spear was called a ‘dory’, the short sword was called a ‘xiphos’, and they wore plumed Corinthian helmets with cheek plates.
  • A bronze relief sculpture showing Odysseus hiding under a ram.  It was fun working out what this statue was showing, as we all know a lot about Odysseus now!  This was a bronze relief ornament from the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi, c. 540-530 BCE 
  • A piece of pottery showing Odysseus blinding the Cyclops – Polyphemus.  We are starting to see how artists often depicted stories of Greek heroes and gods/goddesses on their pottery.  This painting was done on a type of pottery called a proto – attic amphora, ca. 650BC. 


Today we finished listening to the final episodes of the Odyssey.  We heard how Odysseus finally made it to his homeland Ithaca (after twenty years away!) and about the challenges he had getting back into his home and ruling as King again.  With the help of the goddess Athena, Odysseus finally got his home back and was left to live in peace with his wife Penelope and son Telemachus. 

We have loved the Odyssey adventure!  Alana finished our storytelling with “Odysseus must be related to Harry Potter he is “THE BOY THAT LIVED!”.

Here are some of the story map illustrations that were drawn today:

Nausicaa helps Odysseus
Odysseus is sailed home to Ithaca by the Phaeacians.
Athena presents herself to Odysseus and warns him of trouble in his home.
Athena turns Odysseus into a beggar for disguise.
Penelope is saddened by all the suitors who want to marry her!
Penelope weaving at her loom - she unravels it each night so she doesn't have to make her decision! 
Odysseus successfully bends his bow and arrow and shoots an arrow through the holes in the back of twelve axe heads.  Everyone knows Odysseus has returned and the suitors are defeated.

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