Literature-Based, Hands-On Geography: A Trip to Italy

This month’s literature-based learning theme is Where in the World. So I decided to give my younger girls a taste of Italy with the book Pizza in Pienza by Susan Fillion.

Literature-based geography with Pizza in Pienza
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 The story is told by a girl who lives in Pienza, and throughout the book she shares about her little town in Italy. Through the story and great illustrations, we saw the small town through her eyes.

And of course any story about Italy will have pizza included. The narrator of the story loves pizza. And she gives us a first hand look at the history of her favorite food.

After we read about Italy and pizza and Pienza, it was easy to find some great activities to do to go along with our book.

1. First we took our world map and found Italy. (The girls always like to find it because it is shaped like a boot!) Here is a great world map to color and use to locate Italy.

2. Then we made construction paper pizzas. I cut two large round brown circles, and the girls put them on paper plates. Then I gave them several colors of construction paper and let them cut out whatever shapes they would like to make toppings. They got pretty creative.

3. From construction paper pizzas we moved to clay pizzas that we made from homemade salt dough. I found the recipe for the salt dough here and a great flour paste with which to paint our dough here.  I adapted both of those recipes a bit, so here’s what we did:

Salt dough


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour- I used whole wheat flour to give our pizzas a brown look.
  • 1 cup fine salt
  • ½ to ¾ cup water
  • Spoons or spatulas
  • Measuring cups
  • Mixing container (basin or bowl)
We mixed this together adding the water slowly to make a good consistency of the dough.

Then we used some of the salt dough to make our flour paste. I pulled out two small balls of dough and added more water to each until the were the consistency of paint. We stirred in drops of yellow food coloring to one and drops of red food coloring to the other to make a “paint” for our cheese and tomato sauce.

This made some great pizzas that would have been completely edible but probably quite yucky.

These last two activities I had planned for us to do with our book but we haven’t done them yet.

4. Make an Italian flag. There is a great one to print and color here. (And there are also some other great Italy color sheets.)

5. Make pizza- of course. The book provides a recipe for the classic Margherita Pizza. (There is an almost identical recipe here.)

Literature-based geography with Pizza in Pienza

We had a great time exploring Italy- and pizza- this month!

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