Cutting edge boats – Learning history while travelling. Venice, Italy

Gondola! Its sharp end looks like a blade to me, or like a sword!


This was our son’s first reaction on seeing gondolas, strange black wobbly boats that look almost like a funeral vessel.  Although to adults a gondola carries lots of symbolic and historical meaning, to kids it can be an ugly black old boat or a  fascinating and a bit curious object floating on water that can take people for rather expensive water trips. Your kids may come up with something even more interesting! The point is, it is all right to allow them use their imagination to refer to things, objects, people they have seen or experienced for the first time. Children’s creativity can help them understand what they see better, they can refer to their previous experiences or come up with new ideas.

To support learning it always helps to ask children additional questions such as “What do you think it is? What is it/was used for? Do you think it was/is helpful? Why? What do you think it is made of? How does it work?”.  To take learning further offer your kids some hints on the topic such as key words, names, details, events. It may help them connect what they already know or suspect with new bits of factual and reliable information they receive from you.

DSCN4048In our case, we were also curious why gondolas have such strange metal finishing that truly looks like a blade. At that time we were not ready with our hints and answers but decided to visit a tourist office where we grabbed a magazine about history of Venezia including famous gondolas. For us parents, and our 14 year-old daughter it was a good read full of interesting historical information. As our 7 year-old son was really only interested in discovering the purpose of “the metal blade” we explained to him its hidden symbolic meaning and its connection to all the islands of Venetian lagoon we visited together!

He found the “blade story” truly inspiring, grabbed his camera and began his gondola “blade hunt”! You never know what inspires kids! Whatever unfolds and whichever direction their creativity takes them, it will always help them understand themselves and the world better or even discover their new passions.

Further Learning:

Cross-curricular links/Child development:

  • Science: developing children’s investigative skills: planning, asking questions, looking for sources, obtaining evidence, comparing, evaluating, using observation and prediction to draw conclusions
  • History/ Arts & Crafts/ Culture: gondolas – example of cultural heritage, craftsmanship and tradition; history of gondolas, their functions now and then
  • Creativity: taking pictures of gondolas

Photo location: Venice, Italy






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1 Response

  1. March 10, 2015

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