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

16 May 2013


Today we spent the morning poring over topographical maps.  We learned how to read the key to look for different information such as mountains, trig points, native forest, gravel roads, cliffs, sandbanks and lots more!  We also learned about contour lines and how they show how steep the land is (when they are close together the land is steep).  We even discovered that some of the different maps we had joined up!

These two found the longest mountain name in New Zealand: Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitenatahu

Finding maps that join together.

We then spent time working on a logo to go with our company name ‘GeoReady’ and our mission statement ‘When the earth goes crazy we are the experts’.  There was a creative buzz in the classroom as we worked on these and next week we will use our logos to make ID cards for our drama work.  Here are some of the logo designs that were created.

Some of our logo designs.

Then we had a visit from Sara Page who works at GeoNet.  It was a great visit.  She gave us a lot of information, showed us some real equipment, answered all our questions, and even brought us all GeoNet magnets and pens to take home!  She also gave us a quiz and five children won prizes, which were very cool little torchlights!  We found out that Sophia’s grandad is one of the managers at GeoNet.  Here is what some of us wrote about her visit:

Sara talking to us

On Friday 17th of May Sara came to visit us.  She works for GeoNet, which is part of GNS.  She’s a public information specialist. She gave all of room 7 a GeoNet magnet and GeoNet pen.  She let us have a turn shaking and feeling an old seismometer.  A seismometer measures how big an earthquake was.  Inside a seismometer there is a rotating drum and this penlike thing.  When there’s an earthquake the pen wobbles and draws lines on the drum.  Although the seismometer is small it is very heavy.  There were 303 earthquakes in Wellington last month!!!!

Holding a seismometer

Sara works for GNS, she works in GeoNet.  My Grandpa John knows Sara very well.  GeoNet studies tsunami, earthquakes, landslides, and volcanos.  Sara told us about some instruments like a seismometer.  

She told us that in April 2013 there were 303 earthquakes isn’t that amazing, and it was only in Wellington.  

Sam B:
I held a real seismometer.  A Seismometer connects to their computers and tells them how big the earthquake was.  It felt about 10kg.  

They hire divers to drill a hole underwater and place a sensory guage to connect with the computers for Tsunmai information.

We got to hold a seismometer it was quite heavy.

Today Sara from GeoNet came to talk about the earth.  We were very lucky to have her.  She gave prizes for questions if we got them right, the prize was a torch.  She answered all our questions.  She gave us pens and magnets and she told us how many days it takes to get to Raoul Island, it takes 3 days.  At GeoNet her job is to tell the public about the earth [and the work they do with geological hazards] and she gets to go around New Zealand every 2 months.   She told us that there were 303 earthquakes last month in Wellington.  Most people only thought there were only 2 or 3 and last year in Wellington there was 3232.  She brought in an old seismometer and she let us hold it and shake it.  Shaking it was fun!  The seismometer is a thing that measures every movement of the earth.  When the earth has an earthquake it will make a funny sound and it is made out a magnet and wire and stuff like that.

Sara told us that once people at GeoNet put up a whole lot of equipment near Mt Tongariro then it erupted and destroyed it. [...]  We received a GeoNet pen and a GeoNet magnet.  There was small quiz for the class of five questions and if you got the right answer you won a small torch.

They have monitors for landslides, earthquakes, tsunami, and volcanos.

She first talked about some of the people at her work and there were jobs.  The jobs were technicians, systems development, websites, earthquake specialists, public information specialists, scientists, volcano specialists and managers.

I might want to work for GeoNet.

Sara gave us lots of interesting information incluidng posters, maps, and booklets - Thanks Sara!

10 May 2013


Today was our first day of our new Mantle of the Expert unit.  We began our work by exploring a space in the classroom that had a range of maps (bathymetry and geological), a range of books on geology, a table of interesting looking rocks (kindly lent to us to examine by a real geologist), and some signs such as ‘Staff Board’, ‘GeoReady’, and ‘Equipment and Tool Cupboard’.  As we had a look around we talked about what this space might represent.  We shared our ideas and decided that it was a workspace for people who study rocks (geologists) and work with maps (geographers).  We decided that the sign ‘GeoReady’ was the name of the company.

Exploring fictional workspace
We then had some more discussion in small groups to find out what we all knew already about ‘geology’.  The knowledge we had between us is a great starting point for our topic.  As we talked about what we already knew some good questions came up about the difference between plate boundaries and faults, deep (geological) time, and land movement and formation.  Here are some inquiry questions that arose today:

  • What is a fault line?  Is it the same as the place where two plates meet?  Some of us think NZ has only 1 or maybe 2 faults.

  • One rock we looked at had shells inside it.  Some of us described the shells as fossils and some talked about how “sand covered the shells up and then turned slowly to stone”.  But there was quite a discussion about how long this would take – some ideas were ten thousand years or maybe a million years or perhaps just 20 years?

  • Is the land always moving?  Or does it only move when there is a big land event like an earthquake?

  • Is the study of rocks on other planets geology?

We were lucky today to have some real rocks to look at closely and describe.  Here are some pictures of us looking at rocks and what we thought about them. We are going to find out some more about these rocks later on in our work.


“ there are tiny diamonds, crystals – diamonds are a type of crystal” Sandy
"it feels rough and sharp, and it is an interesting shape" Eliza and Esme
"it has sparkly green  and small blackish bits" Alana
"maybe it came from a waterfall in New Zealand" Alana, Eliza, and Esme
"it is black and sparkly their might be diamonds in it"Sam McR, Ethan, and Baxter
"it might be from a mine" Sam McR, Ethan, and Baxter
"this rock sparkles, it has a couple of small ditches at the top" Millie, Holly, and Lucy
"this rock looks like plastic and clay" Sophia
"it feels sandy, it is oval, smooth" Henry, Seb, and Finn
"it looks like 2 rocks joined together" Sam B and Sam R
"it looks like a poached egg.  It has crystal stuff inside.  It feels smooth on top and bumpy on the bottom.  You can see yellowish stuff when you hold it up to the light and it is sort of see through, it is amazing" Kahu and Finn

We also visited the GeoNet blog (link on side of this page) and read about some of the work they do.  We then came up with some questions for Sara who works at GeoNet and is coming to visit us to help us with our inquiry work next week.  

We then drew some tools for our equipment cupboard using information we found on the GeoNet blog (shovels, bags of concrete, seismic monitors, data cards, buckets, torches….)

Our Equipment Toolshed

Our final activity today was wording some mission statements for our company GeoReady.  We had to think carefully about the words we chose so they were clear, effective, and catchy!  Here are the statements that made it to the final vote, the first two statements were our winners! (to be seen on letterheads, staff ID cards, and company signs in the near future).

Geo Ready: When the earth is going crazy we are the experts. (Alana, Oscar, and Kahu)

Geo Ready: Geological Hazard Watch - we’ve got our eye on you! (Lachlan)

Geo Ready: We monitor the nation (Luke)

We are ready for geological hazards (Seb)

Geo Ready is ready for action (Sophia)

We help with geological hazards (Eliza)

2 May 2013

Ancient Greece Mantle of the Expert Unit Below

This is a bridge post between our last Mantle of the Expert unit and our current one.  

Here are some words about our last year's Mantle of the Expert work with year 3 and 4 students, which is described in the posts below.  To view the learning journey from the beginning you need to go to older posts at the bottom of this page.  Previous Mantle of the Expert work I have done at Muritai School is also recorded on a number of different blogs.  To link to these you can click on them under 'Previous Mantle of the Expert work at Muritai School' on the right hand side of this page.

In the unit described below here we learnt about Ancient Greece in-role as archeologists who specialise in the study of artifacts from the Golden Age of Ancient Greece, 479-431BC.

We spent some time in-role as Ancient Athenians living c450BC.In this frame students experienced examples of daily life as Ancient Greeks and came across objects and stories of the time.

The children switched between these two frames throughout the unit. The different frames informed each other as the objects and stories they encountered as Athenians from the Golden Age of Ancient Greece provided the knowledge and expertise they required as modern day archeologists. The artifacts they uncovered as archeologists required out of role inquiry work to find out how to interpret their finds. By stepping into the shoes of the Ancient Athenians we had the opportunity to play out our ideas and in this way consolidated our learning.

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!

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.