Monday, October 31, 2016

Phoenician Snails and Princess Dido's Oxhide

We are moving through our Homeschool History this year, of the Ancient World.  I combed the web for ideas when we reached Chapter 15 of Story of the World.  The chapter introduces Ancient Phoenicia and the amazing purple dye that they discovered and were famous for. 

Since we live far from the sea snails used to create this dye, and since I can't really see myself crushing up snails and boiling them for days...I was trying to find an activity that would give us that experience without harming snails.  Then, I thought, "Let's just use berries!"

I told my son, "Imagine they're little snails.  They're round, small, and kinda give that squishy feeling."   So first, we mashed them.

Then we added a Tablespoon or two of water and boiled them down a bit, stirring so they wouldn't burn.  They smelled a lot nicer while they cooked then we imagined snails might.  Seriously, when the comment, "You stink like a man from Tyre!" was a royal insult back in the day, you can imagine that the factories where they made Tyrian purple were serious stink bombs.

Next, we dropped in something white.  This happened to be a nice clean sock.

 We stirred it around a bit and it turned a nice shade of maroon.  Not quite Tyrian purple, but not too far off, either.

 Once dried, it came out a kind of burgundy.  I wonder what color blackberries might end up with?

We also learned about Princess Dido and the legend of Carthage in Chapter 15.  After reading about how she tricked the locals with her mathematical oxhide trick, we decided to give this a try.  I created an "oxhide shape" on paper that my son cut out (above).

This full lesson, including the paper oxhide above, is available in our Princess Dido Full Packet in our Store.

First, we tried to see how much "land" we could cover with this paper oxhide as it appears, whole.   Then, we cut it up into thin strips and began to see how much "land" it could encircle. 

We had to move from the dining room table which was far too small, and even the living room was hardly large enough.  The difference in the size of land that could be encircled (especially with one side being made up by the ocean that bordered Carthage), gives kids a much better idea of the success of Dido's trickery.

Very fun activity.  In our Princess Dido Full Packet, we also include Dido's story, a map that shows the path she traveled from Phoenicia to northern Africa, and a lesson plan to teach this as a large group.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like "How to Make a Basket Like the Ancient Civilizations".

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Make a Basket Like the Ancient Civilizations

We just read about Moses.  The story begins with this mother of Ancient Israel carefully weaving a basket in which she will place her three month old son.  The tale is very poignantly retold in the River Lullaby from "Prince of Egypt", the movie by Dreamworks.

Now, I was caught by the idea of this basket, and wondered if we could create a mini basket.  I found some beautiful handwoven baskets while researching for our study of Ancient Africa.  I thought we should give it a try.  But, it is best to begin with a base of light card-stock for your beginning weavers.

We had just read the introduction to Moses in Chapter 14 of "Story of the World" and I wanted to try an oval basket, like we imagined the basket for Baby Moses might have looked.  I played around with the shapes for a bit until I landed on this one, which seemed to work well for me.

The reeds in the photo are cattail leaves.  I only needed two for this small basket.

I taped one end of a reed to a card-stock arm and began weaving in and out around the arms, beginning at the base of our basket.

When I came to the end of my reed, I grabbed the next one and taped the last one to the card-stock.  I think a good staple might work even better than tape.

When I got to within a half inch or so of the ends of the card-stock arms, I folded over the tops and taped them to the card-stock lower down.  Again, I think a staple might work even better.

Of course, we had to try out this basket with a figure that might work as a Moses surrogate.  And, hey, she fits in there just fine!  This little basket has been holding up much better than I expected considering we used tape to secure its cardboard.  It's a sturdy little item and makes its way between my son's room and my daughter's and has been used for all sorts of things already.  Next time, I might attempt to make one entirely out of cattail leaves!

The above lesson is now available in our store as the "Make a Basket Like the Ancient Civilizations" product.  

I want to mention this wonderful Game Pack from Belinda over at Whispering Waters.  Her Game Pack is filled with cards showcasing familiar moments from Ancient Times in the Bible.

This product is in her store right here, and the wonderful thing is that she lists a whole bunch of game ideas as ways to utilize these awesome cards.  She also includes this excellent reading list of fictional stories that would be great read-alouds for kids covering Ancient Civilizations.  You will definitely want to check this product out!

The other item I want to mention is a FREEBIE  I have in my store.

We used it for Hammurabi's Code, but this would also work EXCELLENT for two Ten Commandment tablets, if you plan on having your students write out some or all of the Ten Commandments.  And since, that is also covered in this chapter, I wanted to be sure and mention it so you can download it and use it.  :)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Still More Activities for Ancient Egypt & Also Introducing "Whispering Waters"

If you have been following along on our blog, you know that we have already immersed ourselves in quite a bit of Ancient Egyptian discoveries for our Homeschooling adventures in History.

We have already covered such exciting activities in our former blog posts, as:

 The Food Egyptians Ate,

the varied and fascinating Ancient Egyptian Gods,

 the Egyptian Writing System (Hieroglyphs),

the Crops They Grew,

How to Make Papyrus, and even

about Egyptian Clothing Styles.

But, there's always more to discover when you are investigating the past, so we decided to dive into a few more things about Ancient Egypt when we began reading about the Middle and New Kingdoms.

Chapter 13 in "Story of the World", the homeschooling curriculum that we are using this year, discusses Howard Carter and the discovery of King Tut's tomb.  We learn a bit about the fabulous jewelry that the young pharaoh wore.  Even though we already introduced some amazing Egyptian paper "dolls" which showed us the clothing that Egyptians would wear...

Ancient Egypt Paper People and Props is available in our store.

 ...we decided to create a fabulous collar like an Egyptian kid might wear.  This craft is pretty simple:  We simply cut out the center of a paper plate and painted it gold.

Then, we gathered together some craft beads and began designing a pattern.  We looked at Egyptian collar examples before we began gluing the beads to the collar (Use Tacky Glue, not Elmers!)

It turned out beautiful.   Now that was fun, AND since we hadn't done this yet, we also decided to build a pyramid.  

So these were some fun additional activities to add to our Ancient Egypt Repertoire.  But... I get to introduce you to fellow Homeschooler and curriculum creator Belinda, and her "Whispering Waters" TpT store.  I am delighted to have found Belinda because she has a fabulous way of coming up with activities for history that have nothing to do with note-taking and everything to do with some kind of fun.

The product that I want to share with you today is one of Belinda's fabulous history products, her "Ancient History Role Playing Games" Product.  

Using high quality images of historical figures or representative historical paintings, Belinda has created a product that is intended for children to be able to act out History in role-playing games.  How cool is that?  There are over 20 masks in this one product alone, and they span over our entire study of Ancient Civilizations!  We decided to print out the one for King Tut.

Then, we cut around the circle that shows King Tut's death mask.  I taped a wooden craft stick to the back and laminated it.

Perfect for playing with, especially with our cool gold Pharaoh collar to go with it.

Definitely check out Belinda's store, and look over her vast (and growing) supply of exciting history products.  The neat thing about Belinda is that she includes additional ideas for how to use her fun products.  She also includes a reading list for each time period.

We will be talking about another of her fabulous products in our next post also, so don't forget to subscribe if you haven't already.  And we will keep you posted!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Introducing Africa and the Anansi Tales

I was so looking forward to our introduction to Ancient Africa and the Anansi Tales, so in preparation, I went to the library for some Anansi Books.

The Anansi Tales, sometimes referred to as "Trickster Tales" sometimes portray Anansi, the lead character as a spider and sometimes as a man.  He is sometimes mentioned as an Africa god and sometimes as a trickster who is played by the gods.

But most of the time, the tales follow a similar pattern:  Anansi attempts to trick and is fooled himself, or someone is trying to trick Anansi and he ends up doing the fooling. 

Anansi as a spider AND as a man.
Now, I am always on the lookout for Literacy activities to follow up a good story.  And often, I end up creating them myself. 

So I'm going to share a bit of what I came up with to go along with these delightful stories.

This packet should work with any of the Anansi stories.  First, I wanted to make a printable Anansi the Spider.  Because sometimes, you just need a print and go craft.  Only other items needed here will be scissors, and either tape or glue.

But I wanted a follow-up activity to help with character mapping.  Because the Anansi stories are generally predictable, Anansi is a perfect subject to use for honing in on characteristics.  So, here: students can brainstorm as a class or group about various characteristics, and then choose one of those characteristics to complete the sentence. 

But what if you have just read a story where Anansi is portrayed as a man?

If you have the ability to take photos of your young readers, this could be a fun activity to implement:  turn them into little Anansis: 

With this half man/half spider persona, they can put themselves in Anansi's shoes:

Yes, that is my daughter's photo used as the spider head.  Here's what else we used:  Glue, black pepper, a pom pom and a small photo.

There are many ways to create a little spider on this African image, but this was what we did: glue is drawn for legs and pepper is sprinkled over.

Then we glued a black pompom in the center of the legs and added the photo to the top of that!  So quick, so easy, so fun. 

It was a fun intro to the Anansi Tales, and this craft, along with another Anansi story is available in our Anansi Tales Reading Literacy Packet in our store.

If you'd like additional African tales that branch out from Anansi, let me recommend the children's book author, Verna Aardema.

Almost every picture book she has written is a beautiful tale of Africa.  Some of my favorites are Koi and the Kola Nuts, Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears and Anansi Finds a Fool.

Another item included in our reading packet is a map of Africa in both color and black and white.
Now, I wanted to do a project involving the African continent and I had seen this beautiful piece of art online:

If I could figure out who created it, I would give credit, but I could only find this image.  Still, it was so inspiring I thought I'd like to try to recreate something like it.

So we sketched a map of Africa on cardstock and laid out some broken crayons along the edge with tape.  We got out the blow dryer and tried blowing outward from the map.

We went on, all the way around and then removed all the crayons.  There were splotches of melted crayon in the center, too.  We cut out the center Africa shape.  The wax parts cut easily, too.

Then we glued the whole thing to a new piece of cardstock so we could see the beautiful shape of Africa very clearly.  

A fun craft and even if a little time-consuming, it definitely gave us a satisfying completed project and I think this will help my son remember the shape of Africa and the Anansi Tales which spring from it!

What other ideas do you have for Anansi Activities?  Please share in the comments below!