Some information and thoughts for educators on how to organise a visit to the Monastery of Hosios Loukas in Boeotia for primary school classes.
The aim is for the children themselves to observe the space, and come to understand the areas within the monastery through their own experience of it.
The visit begins with meeting at the entrance to the monastery, under the great plane tree, for a first look at the area and the landscape and the panoramic view. The pupils are then divided into teams of two or three classes. For each class, the tour and the children's introduction to the space should include an activity. We recommend that the pupils, especially those in the lower classes, should have drawing pads, pencils and coloured pencils with them so that they can draw.
A tour of the monastery’s interior by children in the first three grades should focus on the children observing what they can see more closely.
Look at the monastery: the number buildings it consists of, the construction material, the masonry, the dome, the sizes, the colours that were used.
How many people worked on building the various places?
Count the cells, the doors, the windows, the columns, the skylights, talk about their size and height.
Activity for 1st and 2nd grade: Meeting point inside the Church of Panagia. Discussion on the shapes and painting, using the designs of the marble inlay which is found inside the church.
Activity for 3rd grade: the children act out a 'monk’s dinner' in the refectory of the monastery. They then chose one of the designs from the sculpture that is found in the refectory and make a drawing of it.
Activity for 4th grade: Meet at the oil press, divide the group into teams and have them mime one the activities carried out by the monks, which they have heard about on the tour. The purpose of the activity is to understand the daily life of the monks in a monastery through games and experiential activities.
Activity for 5th grade: The sounds of then and now. What would they hear in the days of the monastery and what do they hear today? We will listen to the sound the semantron makes in the space as we beat it... The children learn about Byzantine writing.
Activity for 6th grade: At the end of the tour, meet at the monastery tower or in the fotanamma [warming room] for a theatrical game. The children learn about Byzantine writing.