Sunday, August 21, 2016

Gilgamesh, Here We Go!


I'll level with you:  I don't like the story of Gilgamesh.  I know, I know, it's history, and it's our first known fairy tale, and it covers this interesting tale of platonic friendship and the search for immortality.  But I don't like it.

 I'm just one of those peeps who likes my fairy tales to follow this established model:  a clearly outlined bad guy, a clearly outlined good guy and the bad guy "gets his" in the end with some clearly delineated justice.  No wonder I teach small children:  they love justice, too.  

I wasn't looking forward to Chapter 8 in Story of the World, which covers the Epic of Gilgamesh.  And so, my mind automatically went the way it usually does in this kind of situation.  I thought: "I'm probably not the only one out there who has trouble with coming up with extra stuff for this one!"  

So I decided to attempt to do something to make it more interesting for me.  Because the truth is that if you are interested in what you are teaching, you will inadvertently pass that love on to the kids you teach.  I decided it was time to draw and make something {AWESOME} to color.

So, this post is to introduce our latest History Activity, a mini Graphic Novel that distills the Epic of Gilgamesh for younger children.

With three illustrated comic book style pages and one extra page, this will supply a fun activity for you and your child to do together as an extra or supplemental activity.  The "graphic novel pages" cover an introduction to our main character, the tyrant Gilgamesh, and the gods' displeasure with him.  In retaliation to his cruelty to the weak, the gods make Enkidu, a wild man, to be the enemy of Gilgamesh.  The two end up fighting an epic battle and decide to be friends rather than enemies.  I was going to end our little graphic novel there.

But then, I got to thinking.  Some kids who are studying Gilgamesh may be ready for something a bit more challenging and fun.  So I drew one more page, that takes the Epic to its next chapter.  This page has text, and empty cells.

 For the artistic child, I decided to offer this additional activity where they can draw the images for the story themselves.  What fun, huh?  To practice being a comic book illustrator?  I would have loved that when I was in middle school.

But here is how we used this product in our classical homeschooling study:

 First, I stapled together all the printed out pages above, just like a comic book might be.  Next, we read Chapter 8, and when we got to the Story of Gilgamesh, I handed my son this mini comic so he would have pictures to look at during the story.

Next, we started coloring it, using our colored pencils.  I was allowed to color some, too, since there was a lot to color.  We also read through our comic book version of the story, which just slightly differs from the version in Story of the World.

I think the real victory of learning accomplished is witnessed from my son's question once he was done for the day:  "Mommy, can I put this in my bookshelf in my room?"

Absolutely, Kiddo.  Absolutely.

And that, my friends, is a successful study of Gilgamesh.  Here's the link to this super mini graphic novel in our store. 

Now for those of you who are teachers in a middle school set-up, how would you use this with older kids?  What are some great ideas for using the graphic novel in a Ancient Mesopotamia Unit Study?  Please share your ideas in the comments!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy one of our post from Ancient Egypt about How to Eat Like an Egyptian.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Hammurabi and His Code

Here we are at Hammurabi's Code and reading all about his code.  I really like how "Story of the World" includes some of the actual laws.  Only nine, though.  There were certainly a good deal more than that.  However, nine were quite enough.

After reading each law, we talked about whether it was "fair" to the mind of my 6 year old.  The one that really appalled him (and rightly so) was "If a doctor operates on a patient and the patient dies, the doctor's hand will be cut off" and he also had strong opinions about laws that involved "accidents", for the consequences seemed to him to be rather severe, in that case.

So, he was more than ready to come up with some of his own laws, that would be even better than Hammurabi's.  We wrote them on lined paper first.

When you work with kids, you find that their viewpoints of the world are naturally tinged toward their own ideas of justice.  Justice does matter to them.  But they have their own ways of handing it out.  This is obvious, but I will mention it anyway:

Don't laugh at your kids ideas here.  Keep a straight face.  Listen, and let them write their own ideas down.  They certainly don't have to "get it all right" on this activity.  Sure, you can talk it over, to confirm what they are really saying, but try not to direct it too much.  You might even be surprised at the good sense they show.

Also, if they get tired out with writing, help them along.  When they are this young, the idea is to let this be an enjoyable task which helps them experience creating their own laws.  As you might be able to see, I took over the writing for him at number 4. 

Did I chuckle over this with my husband later, when my son couldn't hear?  Yes, I definitely did.

But, do you see #4?  I did not lead him into that.  He came up with the idea himself.  I supplied the words "city-state" and "enforce", but his plan was to have someone (he said judge) to be in charge of each city to make sure everyone else followed the laws that he put in place.

With number five, you'll probably chuckle, as I did.  I think he was trying to offer mercy to those erstwhile murderers, by giving them an extra month, and at least that was more than Hammurabi offered.

Speaking of offering, I want to share this Stone Tablet that I created for this activity with you.  It's in my store, in a Free Product that has Glimmercat posing in a Sumerian crown with Hammurabi's carved stele held close:

It contains a total of 4 pages:  this cute cover, my usual Read-Me copyright page, this nice stone tablet printable:

And a suggestion page for how to use it.

This packet is yours for free download, right here:

If you wish to print it out...go for it.  And if you would be willing to share a picture of YOUR finished product in the comments, that would be absolutely lovely!

Here's my son with his finished Code and a pretty proud smile over his finished product:

If you enjoyed this blog post, check out one of our activities for studying Ancient Egypt.  We cover:

 The Food Egyptians Ate,  the varied and fascinating Ancient Egyptian Gods
 the Egyptian Writing System (Hieroglyphs)How to Make Papyrus, and even

about Egyptian Clothing Styles.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Covering Bible History When Using Story of the World

In spite of the many arguments for or against secular versus non-secular homeschooling, the fact remains that the Bible is still used in Classical Homeschooling and Archaeology for teaching history. This is why Chapter 6 in Story of the World covers so much from the Bible or Jewish texts as they talk about "The Jewish People".

I'm here to offer supplemental ideas as you move through Story of the World.  I didn't desire to do Sunday School level of crafts for my son (there are other places for that kind of activity), but I do wish to offer him additional ways to learn about this chapter, and what I'm showcasing today is definitely worthy of note in this area.

Back in the late 1940's, a brilliant duo joined up for an impressive undertaking.  Andre Le Blanc, a Haitian comic book artist who moved to the United States and also worked for Hanna Barbara, and Iva Hoth, a writer for David C. Cook Publishing teamed up to create the "Sunday PIX":  weekly take-home Sunday School papers.  In the early 70's, David C. Cook Publishing consolidated these little gems into a set of six comic books.

Finally in 1978, the publishing company consolidated the images and script again, into a single, colorized version, "The Picture Bible", which can still be purchased from the company today.  I actually own both.  If you can find either of these, GREAT!  But, my plug is for the little black and white versions seen above. 

The level of historical detail and extra historical notes about the time period (included in the black and white versions, but not in "The Picture Bible"), is invaluable.  Check out this additional set of pages found comic version titled "Creation", all about the caravans on the Trade Routes that we are reading about between the Tigris and the Euphrates Rivers, and Egypt.

I scanned the pages and can now reprint them to use as coloring pages or just as an additional factoid about the era we are reading about.  Another example of the historical accuracy is clear in this image, which shows Sarah, Abraham's wife being presented in the Egyptian court.

Notice that some of the hieroglyphs are exactly the same as those we have in our hieroglyph translation sheet.  And note the detail of the pillars and the costumes that the Egyptians are wearing.  The work of the artist here and the careful depiction of history is incredible.

The work of the colorist in "The Picture Bible" version is not historically accurate, unfortunately.  Note that while the crown of Pharaoh seen here in the story of Joseph, is the perfectly portrayed United Crown of Ancient Egypt (thanks to Andre Le Blanc's work), it is not portrayed in accurate red and white colors, but rather as if it was gold.  Also, the Egyptians all seem to be portrayed as white dudes.  Huh.  Again, not historically accurate.

But, having things not be quite perfect, presents the opportunity to discuss these errors with your child as you go, if you wish.  But I would recommend, "Get the black and white versions if you can!"  They are sometimes still available to find on Ebay or through used online bookstores and hey, if the demand goes up, maybe David C. Cook will be willing to hire a new colorist to right some of the coloring errors.  Who knows what could happen here?

I love my little black and white comic books and they cover the sections that Story of the World discusses (plus a lot more!) about the Jewish People.

Even though my son isn't yet able to read all of the words in the book (some are much too advanced), he has this opportunity to immerse himself in the world and time period that we are reading about, and just like having those Egyptian paper dolls around to play with, this is an invaluable part of his learning.

Be sure to check out our other ideas for Ancient History activities in these posts:

If you enjoyed this activity, check out our other blogs about Archaeology and Ancient Egypt here:

#1: Staging an Archeological Dig

#2:  An Inside Archeological Dig 

 #3  Foraging with Story of the World

#4  Operating an Egyptian Shaduf  

#5  Egypt's Ancient Gods Activity

#6  Eat Like an Egyptian

#7  Let's Do Hieroglyphs

#8  A Papyrus Activity

#9  The Clothing of Egypt 

Friday, August 5, 2016

Why You Need a History Timeline

 When you teach history to children, the reference of a timeline is invaluable.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Children want to know where they land in the story.  And history is a story.  Our story: the exciting, sometimes upsetting, but always amazing story of mankind.

So, you need a Timeline.  And boy, have I got a perfect one to recommend!

Today, I am going to showcase a beautiful Timeline Book created by fellow teachers on TpT, Matt and Tara from "Tied 2 Teaching":

This Timeline Book is simply a timeline, made up of many pages (printed two-sided), laid out over the middle of each page in increments of 5 years.  (As you get closer to more modern years, the increments are smaller so as to give more room to cover events in modern years).

This is the tool you need to connect this interactive experience of history and all these activities you're doing, with the child who is learning about it.  Personally, I'm not real concerned about date memorization in history.  What is more important is the overall picture of history that begins to come into focus as children learn about and experience things of the past.

I'm going to begin to show you how we will use this lovely tool and you will see us utilizing it in many other future posts, also.

Now, here's how your timeline book will look (above) when you first print it out.  I'd recommend getting a nice 3 ring binder and page protectors to slip each page into.  Or, you can have it spiral bound at a professional print shop.

We chose the page protector route for ours, because this binder is going to become a very important facet of our History curriculum and we will be sneaking these pages out of their protectors periodically in our journey through history.

The first thing you'll want to do, is find the year that your child was born and tuck in a photo or note that says, "When {insert name of your child} was born."

Then, when you thumb backwards into the past, it helps your student to grasp that the story we are covering happened "back then".  We have many pages that fill our binder in between this important event of when your child was born and the historical event that we happen to be covering.  And so, an understanding of the stretch of time that is there begins to be comprehended. 

Sometimes, we forget that for young children especially, their understanding of time is still in process.  This was hammered into me humorously when I was explaining how people crossed a land-bridge to get to America and one innocent 2nd grader asked in all seriousness, "Were you there then, Miss C?"

 Every time you and your child cover an exciting or memorable fact as you move through "Story of the World", you're going to want to tuck in something to represents that memory in this binder at the time period it happens (if known).

Maybe your child will write "When Papyrus was first used" or maybe you'll glue in a piece of your own papyrus creation, or maybe you'll drop in a little image that illustrates the fact.

 Here, we had just read Chapter 2 and covered the section about King Narmer who united Egypt and began wearing the double crown of Egypt.  I drew this map of Egypt and a nice picture of the king wearing the double crown, we printed it out, and taped it down around 3000 BC on our timeline (above).

(These particular drawings are in our Ancient Egypt Activity Kit, listed as "Timeline Additions", available in my store, but you can always find images on Google to print out for this, and if you are not planning on using Google images to sell, there are many to choose from).

We also colored the nice title page that comes in Matt and Tara's Timeline Book.

Then we added a cut-out of Glimmercat as an Archaeologist to make it truly our own (also included in our Ancient Egypt pack), and we slipped this into the front of our binder.

He was pretty excited about his binder and inserted the pages into the rings ("I want to do it all by myself, Mommy").

Now, we will continue to use this Timeline Binder each time we read about something new and keep adding bits in, and as we continue, that vast lapse of time between the year he was born and the history we are covering will start to be better understood.

Big thanks to Matt and Tara at "Tied to Teaching" for letting us showcase their beautiful timeline.

Be sure to check out their TpT store for many other fine products: