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

26 September 2012


On Monday we did some inquiry learning about Ancient Greek architecture.  We learnt about the different types of columns (Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian), friezes, metopes and triglyphs, and pediments.  Then we did some detailed study of the most famous building on the Acropolis, The Parthenon.  We looked at the layout of the Parthenon, the types of columns (Doric on the outside and Ionic on the inside), the metope/triglyph frieze, and the stories sculpted in the pediments: the contest for Athens on the West and the birth of Athena on the East.  We looked at how the frieze around the building showed a Panathenaic Procession and the offering of the peplos robe to Athena (we knew about the Panathenaic Games from our earlier study and this was the procession that was held at the opening of these games).  And we already knew all about the 12 metre high gold and ivory statue of Athena inside the Parthenon! 

Then we talked about how we would set up our next drama play, which was going to be the opening of the Parthenon in 438BC.  We made a collective plan about who would be at the opening and what events might happen.  Then everyone chose what parts they would like to play and started to prepare their roles.  It was decided that there would be a table of gods watching the opening, a restaurant on Mt Olympis serving the gods, speeches by Pericles (the leader of Athens) and Phidias (the sculptor), entertainers, traders, and townspeople with offerings for Athena.

Preparing roles.

Erin shows everyone how it took 9 years to build The Parthenon - working in BC time can be tricky!

This was the last day of our Mantle of the Expert Ancient Greece unit. 

We began the day looking at architectural features of modern day buildings in Wellington that have been influenced by the artists and designers of Ancient Greece in the Golden Age.  We saw Doric columns on the Railway Station, Ionic columns on the Parliament buildings, Corinthian columns on the town hall, and Doric columns and pediments on St Andrews on the Terrace.  We even saw one building that had a triglyph and metope frieze around the top. 

Doric columns on the Wellington Railway Station
Corinthian columns on the Wellington Town Hall
We then spent the morning finishing our preparations for the opening of the Parthenon.  Costumes and props were organised and the room layed out as the area around the Parthenon. The whiteboard was the front of the Parthenon and the columns, metope/triglyph frieze, and pediment showing the contest for Athens between Athena and Poseidon was drawn.

Drawing the Parthenon
Once everything was prepared we used circular drama to watch all the different things that were happening as part of the opening of the Parthenon.  First we listened to conversations between the townspeople who had come to see the new building.

Two women who have come to see the opening of the Parthenon.

“I have bought a sack of obols for Athena and jars of olive oil” (these were presented to a very pleased Athena, Poseidon was not happy!).

“Isn’t it wonderful!  Did you bring the sacrifices?” (a number of chickens and sheep were presented to Athena!).

Then we heard speeches from Pericles and Phidias officially opening the Parthenon, watched over by guards.
Pericles officially opens The Parthenon.
“Hello loyal citizens.  Today we are here for the opening of the Parthenon.  Today we need to thank some people. First of all we would like to give great thanks to Phidias the great man who built this wonderful building.  Second of all we would like to thank the wonderful designers Kalamis, Ictinus, and Calibrates.  Thirdly I would like to thank all of you for agreeing to build this wonderful building.  Finally I would like to thank the beautiful goddess Athena for being the god of Athens and in your honour we have built a twelve metre statue of you!  We have tried to make this the most beautiful building in Athens and hope you like it.  Thank you.” PERICLES

“I’m honoured to be here to present the Parthenon with our 12 metre gold statue of Athena.  We love our goddess Athena …we may have to keep away from Poseidon today though….!”  [note: because he didn’t win the contest for Athens!].  PHIDIAS

Then we watched the gods for a while feasting at the Mt Olympus restaurant ‘Gods Olympus’.  They were talking about the new building and Athena was very happy about the huge statue they had made of her.  Hermes carried messages between the gods and Poseidon was very grumpy at all the celebrating of Athena (since he had lost the contest for Athens) and moodily ate his shrimp!

Serving the gods at the restaurant 'Gods Olympus'.
Athena and Poseidon
Finally we watched entertainers perform music, songs, and dances.  Everyone got tickets to the wonderful performance by BAGS (Bennet, Abigail, Georgie, and Samantha).
BAGS entertains

When we had taken turns to watch the different activities we had time for some free play in the scene.  The gods came down in disguises to Athens to participate in trading and watching the entertainments, and everyone admired the new building. There was a lot of creativity in the play today and the children showed they had learnt a lot!

After lunch everyone chose one friend to come and spend the afternoon as archaeologists.  We had 30 squares to dig in today all filled with artifacts that we have studied throughout our unit of work.  The Mantle children told their friend as much as they could about each artifact they dug up.  They shared their toolkits and archaeological log books with their friend and showed them all about working in role.
Our dig site!

The dig begins.
In each square there was also one quiz question about the Golden Age of Ancient Greece.  The winners of this quiz were….LEON and LACHLAN (you can collect your choc fish from Mrs Skilton tomorrow – well done!). 

To celebrate the end of our unit of work we had a prizegiving.  We did this with all of our friends there to watch.  Everyone received a certificate, their storymaps of the Odyssey, their logbooks, and their toolkits to take home.  Well done everyone, it has been lots of fun and I am very impressed with how much you have all learnt about the Golden Age of Ancient Greece, Homer’s Odyssey, and archaeology – you have all become real experts!


We also did some reflection work today.  Here are some favourite moments and comments about Mantle of the Expert this term.

“I love Mantle and I would love to be chosen again.  I loved every week of it.  I also thought it was very fun.  I think I know more that my mum now.”

"I loved it when we were doing the play of the Parthenon opening.  I was Athena!"
"My favourite moment was the slave trade."
"My favourite thing was doing clay"
"I think that Mantle has been really fun and I would love to do it again"
“I like Mantle of the Expert.  I like this way of learning.  It helps me remember things and it’s a fun way of learning.  I think I learnt lots.  I would love to be chosen for Mantle of the Experts again next year.” 
"I love all the art, drama, and writing.  I learned LOADS about Ancient Greece.  I wish I could keep doing Mantle until Yr 8.”
"I wish Mantle was going for ever and ever and ever.  I hope I get chosen again"

10 September 2012



As archaeologists in this Mantle of the Expert unit we have studied many artefacts that were sculpted in stone and pottery in the Golden Age of Ancient Greece.  We have seen a lot of relief sculpture where the pictures are carved in to stone so that they stand out.  We have seen this style of sculpture on Ancient Greek buildings including The Parthenon and The Erecthion, often in the form of friezes that go around the building.  The goddess Athena, goddess of Athens and Odysseus’s saviour, is also the goddess of crafts including pottery and sculpting.  So…

today we had a go at being sculptors.  We worked with clay to make a series of tiles to illustrate the story of the Odyssey, which we are now all experts on!  We learnt a lot about how to work with clay using different tools, with lots of problem solving and creativity along the way.


First we had to roll out clay and cut our tile shapes.  We used long straight pieces of wood to make straight sides and a ruler and knife to cut out our square.  We then used a special potters tool to make grooves in the back of our tile so it would not curl when it dried.  We also made two holes in the top so it would be able to be hung on a wall.


Next we worked with small bits of clay to sculpt our pictures.  We used our plans from last week as a guide but had to do lots of experimenting to see how best to make our pictures work.  We used toothpicks and other clay tools.  We also made slip (a mixture of clay and water) to attach pieces on to our tile.  We learnt how potters attach handles to cups by scratching grip marks onto the handle pieces and the cup before using slip like glue to attach it.  We experimented with this method until we got our relief work looking how we wanted it to.


Six Headed Scylla
Odysseus's Boat
Goddess Athena puts a stop to any more fighting.
Odysseus with his great bow ready to shoot through the holes of 12 axe heads.
Hermes the messenger god - with wings on his feet.

3 September 2012


This morning we spent time finishing writing in our Archaeology Log Books about the artefacts we had uncovered last week.  We are going to be using this information in our archaeology work in the last couple of weeks of the term, so we needed to make sure we had all our information recorded carefully and accurately. 

Next week we are going to be working with clay to make some tiles in ‘relief’ style.  ‘Relief’ is a style of sculpture that adorned many of the buildings on the Acropolis in Athens in the Golden Age, especially on friezes around the tops of buildings such as the Parthenon.  We have looked at a few examples of this type of sculpting in our work as archaeologists and we looked at a few more examples today.

An example of a relief style sculpture.
This relief sculpture shows the Goddess Athena.

We talked about what we might be able to show on a series of 20 tiles (making one each).  We quickly agreed that we could tell the story of the Odyssey, using our story maps as a planning guide.  We collectively planned how the story could be represented on 20 tiles and then someone suggested picking numbers out of a hat to allocate a part of the story to each person. 

When everyone had been allocated a part of the story we all went off to plan our tiles. First we agreed on what the size of our tiles would be, (16cm x 16cm), then we worked out what our main shapes would be that would stand out in the ‘relief’ style.  We cut these shapes out to use as templates next week and we also planned what details we would add using tools such as toothpicks. We are now all ready to work with clay next week.

We ended the day listening to the story of how Athena was born out of the head of Zeus – wearing full hoplite armour including an aspis (shield) a dory (spear), and a plumed Corinthian helmet.  We also read about how Athena is not only the goddess of wisdom and strategy in war, but also the goddess of craftsmanship including pottery and sculpting.  Someone made the suggestion that we should call on Athena next week to help us with our clay tile work!