La Vita è Bella!
Bring alive the sights, sounds, aromas and tastes of Italy for your pupils with this easyto-follow series of interactive lessons! They all link together to culminate in a fantastic
feast for all the family. Ah yes, the Italians know that it’s the simple things that really
make life beautiful – like sharing a tasty, healthy, home-cooked meal!
The La Vita è Bella project has seven lessons all about Italian food – its history, its healthy
ingredients, how to cook it and the pleasure of sharing it. You can use these lessons over a
whole term or as a shorter block linking into literacy, numeracy, ICT and many of the KS2 study
programmes for foundation subjects. They’re flexible enough for you to dip in and out of if you
want to enhance other learning... or even to create an Italian-themed feast day to enhance
community links or raise global awareness.
We’ve provided all the resources you need
Every lesson plan has a starter activity, a main session and plenary plus extension and
homework activity ideas where suitable. As always, we’ve provided lots of supporting materials
for you, including an introductory PowerPoint presentation you can show in assembly,
interactive whiteboard files to use in lessons, easy Italian recipes, design templates and a little
bit of basic Italian vocab to help everyone get into the spirit of the project!
Tuck in to this educational buffet!
You can run La Vita è Bella from start to finish if you wish... or, if you feel you’ve got a little too
much on your plate right now, you can just pick and choose lessons that take your fancy. Like
any good Italian spread, you can always come back for more later!
What’s on the menu, lesson-wise?
In the first two sessions, we’ll be taking you back nearly 2000 years to Roman
Britain. The children will be learning about how the Romans lived and, of course,
what kinds of things they ate.
Then we’ll be coming back to the present day to find out when and why Italians
get together to eat – from family celebrations to famous festivals like the
Venice carnival, with traditional recipes for your pupils to try as they go along.
The Italians are renowned for their love of fresh, healthy ingredients like
tomatoes, olives, fruit and vegetables, but what else do they eat? And where
does it come from?
Finally, and this is totally optional, the children will be putting together everything
they’ve learned to create a wonderful spread that everyone can share in. You can
hold an in-school Italian feast event that children can invite family and friends to,
or you can set them the challenge of becoming head chef at home to reproduce
everything they’ve learned in school for their families to enjoy!
And that’s it for the overview;
now it’s time for the first lesson. Andiamo!
La vita È Bella lesson 3: Let’s celebrate in
carnival style!
The lesson’s aims:
To find out about celebrations in Italy.
Learning outcomes:
he children know about some Italian celebrations.
They have made their own masks to wear/display in class.
Main curriculum link: Art & design. History (see curriculum links overview table for others).
Resources:Interactive whiteboard: Venetian carnival mask-making (use as
first activity).
Blank mask templates.
Start off your lesson by asking the children if they know what a carnival is. Fill in any
gaps in their knowledge, explaining that they’re festivals which usually include people
dressing up in costumes, decorations, music and a big feast. They’re a good excuse
for people to get together and eat lots of different foods! How did these festivals and
celebrations originate? Do the children know? Explain to them that they’re usually held
to celebrate special times in the religious calendar, like saints’ days and harvest time.
The Italians love to get together, have fun, dance, dress up and eat and drink, so they have lots
of festivals throughout the year. One of their best-known festivals is the Carnevale Venezia –
the Venice Carnival. It all started way back in the 11th century and it takes place every year in
the 10 days leading up to Lent. It’s famous worldwide for its spectacular costumes and masks,
entertainment, fireworks and food.
Tell the children that, today, not only will they be trying some of the special foods the Venetians
make for carnival, but they’ll also be designing and making their own carnival masks!
SUGGESTED Activities:
• Get children to design their own Venetian mask using the interactive whiteboard
• Show the children pictures of the Venice carnival on the interactive whiteboard – the
• Italians eat lots and lots of fresh foods, especially seasonal fruits and vegetables.
game in the ICT suite or on the whiteboard, alternatively you can print the blank mask
templates in this pack and get children to colour and decorate them.
parades, the street entertainers, foods and the revellers all dressed up for the masked balls.
• Have a look at some of the mask designs together. Point out that they range
from very simple to really elaborate. Then ask the children to choose a
template to design and then create their own mask from a variety of materials.
They’re not impressed by foods that are out of season or that have been shipped
a long distance. Ask the children to use the internet to research what different fruits
and vegetables are traditionally in season at different times of the year.
La vita È Bella lesson 3 (continued):
Let’s celebrate in
carnival style!
It’s the class mask parade! Tell everyone to put their mask on. Then everyone can admire each
other’s masks and try to guess who is behind each one. Visit another class, or invite in another
teacher, can they tell who is behind each mask?
Set the children the task of using the internet to find out if there are any other well known
festivals that are celebrated in a similar way. (Rio Carnival, Notting Hill, New Orleans etc).
What else is Venice famous for? Again, the children should use the internet or go to the library
to learn more about Venice (i.e. the canals, gondolas, bell towers, glassware).
Parliamo Italiano! – Italian phrases
Mi scusi
Excuse me
Per favore
Please Grazie
Thank you
Sono spiacente
I’m sorry
Prego You’re welcome
lesson 3 Notes:
Let’s celebrate
in carnival style!
The city of Venice
Venice is a famous city just off the coast of northern Italy. What makes it so unusual is
that it’s actually made up of a number of a number of islands joined by over 400 bridges
and separated by over 100 canals. There are no buses and taxis in Venice. Their public
transport is by boat and, of course, the famous canal gondolas.
Some of the city’s famous landmarks include St Marks Square, the Doge’s Palace, the basilica
and bell tower, Rialto Bridge and the Bridge of Sighs.
Introducing the Venetian carnival
The world-famous Venice Carnival or, in Italian, Carnevale Venezia, usually has a theme.
In 2010, it was the six senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch plus the sixth sense
– the imagination!
Carnevale takes place all over Venice, but the main events take place in St Mark’s Square.
The festival itself dates back to the 11th century and became an official public festival in 1296.
In the olden days, people from all over Europe would visit Venice during Carnevale to admire
and take part in the festivities. The city would be full of loud people, all masked and dressed
up, who wanted to have fun, sing, dance and eat. In the main area of St. Mark’s, several stages
were set up for tumblers, jugglers and tame animals. At every hour, you’d hear drums and
blasts from trumpets and fifes. Stalls sold delicacies for people to taste.
When the carnival crowds got a bit out of hand, laws were imposed to curb their bad
behaviour. For example, in 1268 a law was passed which forbade masked people from
throwing eggs stuffed with rose and jasmine!
Look out for this crowd-pleasing spectacle!
In the past, a great attraction at Carnevale was the ‘volo della colombina’ (the flight of the little
dove). The little dove was actually a wooden dove which came down from St. Mark’s bell tower
showering confetti and flowers on the crowd. It has now been replaced by the ‘volo dell’angelo’
(the flight of the angel) –a woman dressed as an angel who glides down from St Mark’s on the
third day of Carnevale.
lesson 3 Notes (continued):
Let’s celebrate
in carnival style!
The famous carnival masks of Venice
Throughout the history of Carnevale, masks have played a very important role. Why?
Because they allowed all people to be equal: a peasant woman could be mistaken for
royalty if her face was covered by a mask.
There was a period when the popularity of Carnevale waned and the wearing of masks
stopped. However, it’s made a real comeback in the last 30 years and today there are mask
shops on every corner in Venice.
Venetian carnival masks fall into three main styles:
Commedia dell’Arte masks are based on traditional theatrical characters like Harlequin
and Pierrot.
Fantasy masks are figments of the mask-maker’s imagination, although they may be
inspired by historical designs.
Traditional Venetian masks such as the white volto half-mask with nose cover and its
variant, the ‘plague doctor’s’ mask with its big bird’s beak. (According to tradition, the
beak was intended to protect the wearer from being infected by the plague.)
Some useful websites
lesson 3 Notes (continued):
Let’s celebrate
in carnival style!
Try this yummy Carnevale recipe!
Frittelle di Carnevale (carnival fritters)
2 oz (50g) corn starch
1 cup (150g) flour
1 1/4 cups (300cc) water
2 oz (50g) butter
pinch of salt
2 oz (50g) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla powder
6 large eggs
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 apples, cored, peeled, finely diced
3 oz (100g) raisin
2 oz (50g) pine seed
Powdered sugar for finishing
1. Sift the flour and corn starch into a bowl.
2. Put the water in a saucepan on a medium heat and add the butter and a pinch of salt.
3. As soon as the water starts boiling, remove from the heat and add the flour mixture.
4. Stir vigorously to combine.
5. Place the pan back on the heat. Stir until the dough appears dry and comes off the sides
of the pan.
6. Remove from the heat.
7. Add the sugar, vanilla and one egg, stirring very fast to combine the egg.
8. Repeat the step of adding the eggs one at a time, and stirring, until all the eggs are
incorporated to the dough.
9. Add the baking powder
10. Combine raisins and diced apple and add to the dough.
11. In a skillet, bring the oil to frying temperature. Put the dough into the hot oil one
tablespoon at a time and fry until the fritters are golden.
12. Remove the fritters from the skillet and place on kitchen paper to drain the excess oil.
13. Top with powdered sugar and serve hot!
Schemes of work - KS2
Al fresco 1 & 2
Lit. all 12 strands of National Literacy Strategy can be covered
a a
understanding shape mosaics, masks, pizza/pasta
handling data preferences/surveys
measuring used when cooking
using and applying numbers used when cooking
a a
a a
calculating preferences/surveys/cooking
3A – text and graphics
3C – introduction to databases preferences/surveys
4B – developing images using repeating patterns
4D – collecting and presenting information
5D – introduction to spreadsheets preferences/surveys
Science a
Romans 1 & 2
6A – multimedia presentation
a a
a a
a a
3B – helping plants grow well/where food comes from
a a
a a
a a
5D – changing state a
5A – keeping healthy balanced diet/fresh foods
6D – reversible and irreversible changes a
Healthy lifestyles
Respect and tolerance
a a
a a
a a a
Cit. 5 – living in a diverse world
6A – worship and community
Art & design
3B – investigating pattern mosaics, masks,
pizza/pasta, decorations
5B – containers 6B – what a performance roman feast, carnival
a a
a a
a a
a a
3B – sandwich snacks
5B – bread
Hist. 6A – a Roman case study
24 – passport to the world a