Marco Polo by 6th Grade

In The Footsteps of Marco Polo

We just finished watching an amazing movie called In The Footsteps of Marco Polo. It is about two amazing people, Denis and Francis who decided to make a journey retracing the route taken by Marco Polo back in 1271.

Even although they did not complete the exact same path as Marco Polo due to visa and passport border issues, Denis and Francis learned a lot about the countries they visited. They were held back in certain places as well, such as Iraq and Iran. The duo went through many of the same countries that Marco Polo passed and they had many goals they tried to complete. They tried to be featured in all the local newspapers and they also tried to bring back similar items that Marco Polo found. After 712 days, the journey was finally over and Denis and Francis returned to Venice by a different route just like Marco Polo did. They asked the Mayor of Venice to see Marco Polo’s will as they had been denied before the journey kicked off.

We learned a lot from the Marco Polo movie. There were a lot of hardships during the trip and Denis and Francis had to be very tough to complete this journey.  There were many times when they wanted to give up but they kept on going and we were very inspired by this. We learned a lot about the different cultures along the Silk Road and how different towns greet tourists in a variety of ways. It was surprising to us that Denis and Francis were the first Americans to cross into Turkmenistan.

It is remarkable that Marco Polo made this journey so long ago…or did he??? Some of us think he did and some think he only made it part way. He knew a lot about the cultures, traditions and trade but he did not mention the Great Wall (the part that was built then), the binding of women’s feet and Kublai Khan did not mention Marco Polo. So what do you think???

What did we learn from Denis and Francis?

We should never give up on our dreams.

Here are our letters to Denis and Francis

A link to info about the movie and Denis and Francis

Letter to Denis and Francis – Logan

Hi Denis and Francis,
My name is Logan. I am in 6th grade and I go to PDS. We are studying medieval China and my 6th grade class watched your movie about going on Marco Polo’s journey. We thought it was really cool that you were able to finish the journey after all that had happened.

I really liked that you acted very professional in the movie and were very funny. It would be very cool if you could come to our school and present about your journey. We have A LOT of questions to ask you and we would be honored. I wish I had enough courage like you did “illegally” crossing borders and going through very dangerous war zones.

What was it like to travel through a warzone like you did on your journey? Was it scary? How did you feel? Also do you have a Skype account if you do we could Skype you. I hope I get to meet you someday if you come to our school or Skype us. It would be a really awesome if you could!!!



Erika – Letter to Denis

Dear Denis,
I’m Erika, and I’m in sixth grade. I go to school at Poughkeepsie Day School, which is located in the town of Poughkeepsie in New York State. My class and I are studying the Middle Ages, which took place from 500 AD-1500 AD. So far in this unit, we have learned a lot about Medieval Europe, Islam and the Crusades, and finally, we’re learning more about Marco Polo and China. In order to learn more about China, my class and I watched the video about you and Francis traveling the routes of Marco Polo.

My class and I thought it was really worthwhile watching your video. It taught us a lot of interesting facts about Marco Polo. What we found really creepy, was when you and Francis were at gunpoint with several soldiers in Afghanistan. I would definitely not want to be in your position while that was going on. A part in the movie we found hilarious was when Francis broke the light switch in the bathroom. That made almost half of the class crack up into total laughter!

From what I’ve heard from my teacher Shirley, you are a very motivated speaker. We really hope you could come to our school to visit us, either this year or next year. It would really be a pleasure! Maybe you could tell us more of your experience on your journey? Anyway, hope my class and I can keep in touch!

Shirley’s 6th Grade
Poughkeepsie Day School


Letter to Denis- By Ana

Dear Denis,
I am a 6th grader at Poughkeepsie Day School and I am 12 years old. I watched your video and I am so inspired by what you did. I am wondering how you didn’t get homesick? What did you do to stay focused and keep going? If I was on that journey I would probably stop and sit in one place for as long as I could. I would want to really learn the culture. You guys went so far away from home for so long and never gave up.

Even ‘though you didn’t take the exact route that Marco Polo did I can understand why it was so hard. You had problems that Marco Polo didn’t, like getting Visas and all the fights with guns. It is cool that some of the places were still like when Marco Polo was there. For example, in India they prayed in the same places that they did thousands of years before. Each place was unique. They all had their ups and downs. I wish I could go on that journey too. I would probably get homesick but it would be so amazing!

You are so lucky that you got to do this and that you didn’t stop half way. I would really appreciate it if you came to my school to present what it was like on your journey, the story and the things that you learned. If you can’t do that  we would love it if you could Skype with us. If you can’t do that either then you could maybe come next year. My whole class loved what you did and hope you can come!



Letter to Denis – Elizabeth

Dear Denis Belliveau,

I am a sixth grader named Elizabeth and my class and I are studying the medieval time period. We just recently watched your movie, In the Footsteps of Marco Polo. Your movie taught us a lot about the medieval times and we really enjoyed watching it. We have been thinking about this question, “Do you believe Marco Polo really made the journey?” Many people have said that his journey was not made and we all have our own opinions. What is yours?

It would be really wonderful if you could come to the school I go to, Poughkeepsie Day School. Last year, you came to Vassar College and shared a presentation with the audience. The sixth grade class came and really loved the experience. It would be awesome to talk to you and hear how you feel about this journey, and Marco Polo. If you come to visit our school it might be nice to talk about medieval architecture. As my class’s end of year project, in partnerships, we will all be making different medieval structures. Some examples are, European castles, Chinese palaces, Chinese temples, the Dome of the Rock and Mosques. If you have seen these things, it would be wonderful if you could show us pictures or help by describing them to us. My partner and I are creating some pieces of the Chinese palace called the Summer Palace in Beijing. We would love to learn more about it. What do you think you are going to do now? Continue taking pictures? Are you going to make another journey?

Hope we can see you soon!
You can visit my blog page at

Following Marco Polo – Remy

Dear Denis,
Thank you for making the video about following Marco Polo’s route. My name is Remy and I really enjoyed watching it with my 6th grade Humanities class . If you want to check out our class blog here is the link.

We started a unit on Marco Polo a couple of weeks ago and have been watching your movie to learn about it. Whenever our teacher tells us that are going to talk about Marco Polo today we all ask if we can watch the movie. We love the movie so much because it has humor in it and it is very educational. One funny part that we all really liked was when the guy was about to shoot you and you pulled a out a cigarette and gave them to him so that he wouldn’t shoot you right then.

Our class thought that your photographs were amazing and very interesting to look at. Since you are such a great guy we were wondering if you could give us some face to face info about your journey and adventure following Marco Polo. We would like to invite you to come to our school to talk with us about your travels. Here is the link to our school website where you can find the location of our school.

Can’t wait to see you.

Shirley’s 6th Grade

Denis Letter-Grace

Dear Denis Belliveau,
We have been studying Marco Polo and while we were studying we watched your movie. It was made well and I love all the pictures you took, they were are really beautiful. Do you still believe that Marco Polo took the route he said he took? Marco Polo left out a lot of details in his writing for example how the women bound their feet to keep them from growing. I think it is really amazing what you and Francis have done. How long have you been doing photography? I think photography is a cool thing to do and I might want to be a photographer when I’m older. Your journey sounded like so much fun except for some of the places where you were stuck for a while.

My favorite place that you passed through was Mongolia because I think it looked beautiful and the people who live there are not modern at all and aren’t very involved in technology.
Visiting all the different places with their different religions must have been very different. I don’t think I could take 712 days away from home. The most I have ever been away was probably 2 weeks! I have never been to Asia but your movie made me want to go. It looks very interesting and I hope you come to our school to share more about your adventure.



Letter to Denis – Xavier

Dear Denis,

Hello, my name is Xavier and I live in New York. I saw your movie about how you and Francis tried to follow in Marco Polo’s footsteps.  I saw the movie with my 6th grade Humanities class. We have a blog with a bunch of good stuff. The link is the word “blog” in the previous sentence.

We started a unit in class all about Marco Polo. Every day we watched the videos of you and Francis on your Adventure. I learned so much about you  and about all the places you visited. It was like a plane ride across the world. You saw so many cool places and I loved when Francis got the tattoo from the locals. I wish I was could go on Marco Polo’s journey because it looked like so much fun. Are you  going to do something like that again? Did you ever get to touch Marco Polo’s will? I would love for you guys to come to our school.

From Poughkeepsie Day School


Letter to Dennis -Massimo

Hi Denis,
My name is Massimo and I’m in 6th grade. I really like that you did Marco polo’s journey. I was really surprised by how determined you were when you had a choice of going over Iran with the helicopter but you choose to go right through it.

Something that I thought showed how determined you were was that you guys made fake passports just to cross the border. Something I learned from your journey was what was the Silk Road and also the things Marco Polo saw like the nuts and other things you brought back.

I was wondering if you would like to Skype with my class in Poughkeepsie Day School? If you could I would be very excited because you did the journey of Marco Polo and almost got shot.




Letter to Denis and Francis – by Raiyaan

Dear Denis and Francis,
My name is Raiyaan and I live in Hopewell. My brother, my sister and I all go to Poughkeepsie Day. I watched your video about the Travels of Marco Polo with my class. I laughed at your jokes. They were so funny. I am so inspired by what you did and I am really impressed that you guys never gave up, not even if you were about to be shot.

I can’t believe that you guys sold all your goods just so you could go all across the country. Even though you tried to take Marco Polo’s route, I understand why it was so hard because of the visas and passports. What was going on in your head while you guys were in a shootout? Did you guys think that you were going to die? If I was in your position I wouldn’t have felt so brave as you guys.

My class and I were wondering if you could come and visit our school. If not, could you at least Skype. We are all desperate to see you  guys.