Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Babylon's Hanging Gardens

When learning about the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, there is a bit of imagination that is required.  We all love the idea of Nebuchadnezzar creating this "mountain" for his Persian bride so that she would not miss her homeland so much.  I mean, how can anyone resist a story about a labor of love like that? 

But even with a variety of primary sources from the Ancient World, it was tough for me to really "see" this Wonder without seeing images or something of what it may have looked like.  So, when it came time to teach about it, we decided to create something that we could use as reference for what the Hanging Gardens may in fact have been like. 

So we created a Printable Replica of the Hanging Gardens.  We definitely recommend using cardstock to print these two sheets out on.  You'll need the cardstock for the Gardens replica to hold its shape.  And, this printable replica will come together easiest if you also use an exacto blade.  We used scissors, but it was very tricky to get some of those intricate cuts.

We used images of the Ishtar Gate for part of Nebuchadnezzar's "Mountain", since it seemed likely that some form of Babylonian architecture would have been used. 

In close details, you might notice that we included a waterfall pouring down the mountain, since the pumping of the Euphrates is mentioned in at least one of the primary sources. 

We hope you enjoy this fabulous mini replica and that it is useful for instructional purposes or just for the fun of imagining the Hanging Gardens in an entirely new way. 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Theseus and the Minotaur

We are introducing the first myth in Greek Mythology today in our History Curriculum.  I was pretty excited to reach Chapter 18 in Story of the World.  Well, at least the Minoans and Crete.

I used to love Greek mythology as a kid, and the first story that our Homeschool Curriculum shares is the classic tale of Theseus destroying the Minotaur. 

I had just finished up our Greek Paper People, and so I was already in the groove of thinking about Paper People and it dawned on me:  Why not create a Greek Myth Paper People set that would allow kids to play out the story?

Being a creative family, we are big on acting things out and I'm a strong believer in play being the best kind of learning.  So, back to the drawing board I went, and shortly thereafter, we had our first two players in the ancient story.  But what is a hero without the heroine?  We must have Ariadne!

 So, I made Ariadne and she was immediately confiscated by my daughter who assumed that the beautiful Cretan Princess must have been made for her.   I also made King Minos and threw in a ball of wool, a torch and a sword for good measure. 

Everything we need for a play-pretend of the ancient story.

Or was it?  Where's the Labyrinth? 

Labyrinths have apparently gotten a recent surge in popularity lately, and there are many do-it-yourself Pinterest pages about how to build backyard labyrinths...which is a pretty fun concept, actually. 

I would recommend showing kids some images of labyrinths, just for fun in advance. 

So we definitely needed a labyrinth and we decided to make one.  Perhaps you can come up with a better way, but here is what we did:

  We began with a cardboard box and I cut the flaps off of it.  I was going to need more cardboard so I made an executive decision and chopped the box in half.

This meant my paper people would be oversized for our Labyrinth, but at least we would get to better understand the concept of what a Labyrinth actually was.

First, we drew a maze on the bottom of our box.

Next, we glued our cardboard pieces onto the lines of our maze, cutting out doorways in advance.

Not quite accurate, since the Minotaur is a good head and chest taller than our Labyrinth, but to be honest, this did not bother my kids in the least.  They were quite delighted with this new plaything and had a blast playing with the characters.

One more item I should mention for those unfamiliar with the story: 

Theseus is a Boob.    Seriously. 

Story of the World doesn't explain this, but he leaves Ariadne on an island instead of taking her with him.  After she risked her neck to save him! 

So, Theseus gets the Boob Award and if you are covering this lesson in older grade levels it might inspire some intriguing conversations about the limited rights of women in the old world. 

Ariadne wins out in the end, though.  Not only does she get one of the Greek gods as a husband, she ends up getting deified later on, so there's definitely a good moral in there somewhere:  Don't be fooled by a smolder and a quick sword, little ladies;  hang on and wait for the best!

You can find our latest product, "Theseus and the Minotaur" in our TpT store.  We have also included the Greek myth, rewritten and our lesson plan for creating the labyrinth above.  As always, we recommend printing on thick card-stock for our Paper People. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

More Paper People

We've been busy over here, and I am honestly proud of the results.  In our Homeschool curriculum (story of the world), study of the ancients in the Americas are still several chapters away.  But I have been wanting to get prepared for when it comes.  Here's our latest offering.

I like my ancient Mayans.  Turns out that the Mayans utilized facial tattoos quite commonly.  Another thing they did was to insert implants into their teeth!  Apparently, archaeologists have unearthed quite a few Mayan skulls where the teeth were ornamented with gems.  (I didn't attempt to pull that off in my paper people, but if I thought I could do it well and get away with it, I would have!) You can see images online of these skulls, and as bizarre as it sounds, I think it might have looked rather nice in person.  Especially when the individual smiled.

I also created a packet of paper dolls, or "Paper People" as I prefer to call them, for Ancient Greece.  Both of these packets include the images of the people themselves, several outfits for male and female, and then a coloring page for the budding artists out there who would like to color their own outfits.

These are going to be great products for your study of the clothing of the era, or even introducing to younger ages.  My son played with Ancient Egypt Paper People for several weeks, and I loved hearing him create stories with them.

Each of these historical packets is available in our store and I will soon be making a combined bundle of the three!  Follow me here or at my TpT store to keep up on all the latest!  

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Our Thanksgiving Graphic Novel

I'm excited to present our latest product, a
Graphic Novel based on the first Thanksgiving.  It was a labor of love and a stretch of my creativity and I am not ashamed to admit it!  It also took a great deal longer to research than I had originally planned, but included in the novel are many primary sources from the era. 

When it comes to beloved holidays,  there is always a desire to keep the traditional beliefs we grew up with as children.  Sometimes it hurts to peel back the covers and discover that not all those traditions were based on fact.  But, if we are brave enough to do so, there are often these serendipitous discoveries we find that are even more to be treasured than the beliefs we formerly held.

But if there is one idea that trumps all traditions, it is: Veritas!  Truth!

This value of truth was what grounded me through the
creation of this product.  That and a love for history that is rooted in the optimistic.

The Graphic Novel begins with Tisquantum (whom we know more generally as Squanto).  Most of us have heard that Squanto was captured and enslaved by the English before his assistance of the Pilgrims.  But researching more about Weymouth and how he executed that capture was fascinating. 

Some historians debate whether Squanto was included in this first capture of five young Native Americans.  But Sir Ferdinando Gorges and a shipmate of Weymouth seem to imply by their writings that Tisquantum was included.

Weymouth used several articles to entice the young braves onto his ship.  One of these was the English pea.  I chose to show it as the vegetable, but the writings suggest that the peas were canned.  Who knew they could can peas all the way back in the 1600's?  (Okay maybe some of you knew that.  I did not).

For years, Tisquantum lived with Gorges in England, and of course, learned his excellent English.  He is finally released for his return to his country...

...When Captain Thomas Hunt happens.

Now I knew a rough idea of the story of Squanto's capture, but I did not know that Hunt knew Squanto quite well:  At least, Hunt was the captain of the ship that sailed with Tisquantum's Captain, John Smith.

I only show Squanto in chains on this page.  Hunt actually captured over 20 Native Americans, many of which were of the Nausett and Naragansett Tribes, which then decided to have nothing to do with white men (understandably) from there on out.

These tribes were rather antagonistic to the new settlers (whom we call Pilgrims), and knowing their backstory, we can definitely understand their feelings.

 Because Tisquantum is rescued by the Spanish monks (once he reaches the Spanish coast), he is taught by them in the Christian religion.

Some leave this out of Squanto's story, but I chose to leave it in, for even on his deathbed (a few years after meeting the Pilgrims), he asked William Bradford to pray for him "to the white man's God", and so this time with the monks was significant to Squanto and I felt it was important to include.

I leave Squanto's story here in the Graphic novel, and move on to Remember Allerton, a little Pilgrim girl onboard the Mayflower. 

I do not refer to these new settlers as Pilgrims, since they themselves only refer to themselves by that name once in their writings (that I could find) and seemed to think of themselves in that light, more in a poetic sense, as those with such a religious culture might.  They were new settlers, or of course, Separatists.  But, in the eyes of a little girl, such titles are not necessary.  Remember simply tells her story.

When I think of the Mayflower, I think of visiting the tiny replica of the ship in Massachusetts back in 1998, as I had the opportunity to do.

I remember being incredibly shocked at the small space and having an inability to fathom so many people being stuck inside of it for such a long time.

I do not think my pictures adequately convey how small the Mayflower is, so I mention it here.

What a relief it truly must have been to finally see land!  And yet, finding the land must have been disappointing, too.  This brings me to Mrs. Bradford.

Historians debate what really happened to poor Mrs. Bradford on that fateful day that her husband sailed away to scout out the land.  Suicide for one of the religious Separatists would be something terrible to consider.  But when we understand how dreadful depression can be, we can understand that tragedies like these can come against the best of us.

I do not state that Mrs. Bradford committed suicide in the graphic novel, for we don't know this for sure.  She simply falls overboard and they never heard cries for assistance.  But through the eyes of a child, the continued deaths of the adults onboard are still devastating.  I try to portray Remember's story as gently as I can, while still covering the pain of what she saw:  her mother, a sibling, and more than half of the adults on the voyage die.

When Samoset arrives in the settlement, it is a turning point for all.  A turning point for the best.

I found references that said that Samoset entered dressed only in a loincloth, which had to be staggering to the Europeans, who were still struggling with the harsh New England springtime.  After all, I visited in New England myself in March, and I wore sweaters and long pants!

There is a legend (I couldn't find a historical reference), that Samoset entered the new settlement with two arrows, pointing forward and backwards.  The legend suggests that he was asking the pilgrims a question with this symbolism: namely, are you enemies or are you friends?

I included this in the image, but I do not refer specifically to it in the story.

And so with Samoset comes Squanto, and with him the change in the fortunes of the Settlers.

He taught them more than I show here, but these would be the mainstays that would mean the Pilgrims could now survive and even thrive in this new world.

And the symbols used throughout the graphic novel (the feather for Tisquantum's story and the doll for Remember's) are now shown together for the first time.

The actual primary sources that we have for the original Thanksgiving feast are included within the novel itself.  We have two that we are aware of:  Edward Winslow's letter to a friend and William Bradford's general covering of the Harvest season, many years later. 

On this page, we include Edward Winslow's letter excerpt which remains the most detailed we have of that first Thanksgiving.

There is actually more to Squanto's story that I do not share here as it does not pertain to the Thanksgiving Feast, but it is important to note.  Squanto is a figure of controversy as he later began to look out for his own interests in his dealings with his own people in the negotiations he held between them and the Pilgrims.  There is some debate whether he may have been poisoned by Massasoit's people because he simply had become untrustworthy to the great Chief.

Bradford does not mention poison, but he does mention Squanto's failings, and it was only through the intervention of Bradford that Squanto was allowed his safety, although he died shortly after 1621.
 Again, it does not pertain to the Thanksgiving feast, so this is not mentioned in our story.  

What we do share, in  the back are an additional four pages of historical notes.

I include the Native American perspective of the Feast because it is important to remember that two incredibly diverse cultures were involved in that first feast and one culture's perspective has traditionally not been seen as important to the story.

I wanted desperately to find in my research that Bradford had indeed invited the Indians to the feast.  There really is no record of such happening.  It's possible, of course.  Several years later, Bradford invites Massasoit to a wedding that takes place in Plimoth.
  But it is as equally likely that the settlers didn't even think to invite the Native Americans to their Harvest feast and Massasoit's tribe discovered the feast going on and invited themselves, so to speak. 

This doesn't mean the first Thanksgiving wasn't still an incredibly wonderful event.  Truth is, there were few times in that era of history where two such diverse people groups would ever sit down to eat together.  This is a time period where kindness was rather dim.  Just take a look at the standard methods of punishment in Elizabethan England for this time period. 

For the era, I still look on the First Thanksgiving as an anomaly in history, probably only possible with these two groups:  one, a religious sect that demanded kindness as part of its belief systems (even though admittedly they were hoping to practice proselytizing this new people group) and two, the tribe of Massasoit, who was a leader spoken of with awe and appreciation by both Native Americans and the leaders of Plimoth in various letters.

To Purchase this "First Thanksgiving Graphic Novel" or see it in more detail, you may go to our TeachersPayTeachers online store.  

Monday, November 7, 2016

Ashurbanipal's Siege Towers

In Chapter Sixteen of our Classical History Homeschooling Curriculum, (Story of the World, Volume 1) we learn about Assyria's ancient war tactics.  In particular, we learn about how Ashurbanipal used siege towers to destroy cities and began to enlarge his takings by doing so.

In this image found on an Assyrian wall relief, we can get a rough idea of these early siege towers.  It appears that the men pushing the siege tower were hidden down near the wheels.  The battering ram is tilted up at an angle.  Since we really wanted to create an activity for this chapter, we based our Paper Engineered Siege Tower off of this image. Here's what you will need to do the same:

This Siege Tower activity can be found in our latest addition to our TpT store:

It also comes in a black and white version, if you would rather print it out for your students to color in themselves.  If you have the ability, you might also prefer to print it on cardstock, but regular paper is what we used.

There is some tricky cutting involved (one side of the cart's wheels, in particular) so you may want to assist your students if they are younger than middle school age.  Basically, though:  cut on the solid lines and fold on the dotted lines.

My son was a little unsure of his ability to put this together, so I said, "Let's just start by folding the lines we know need folding, and see if it kinda comes together..."

Sure enough, that was all we needed to get started, and as he went he could see how the siege tower went together on his own.  We taped the edges together as we went and this helped, too.

Now the pencil tucks into the front as the battering ram.  But once we had this put together, we decided to put a "City" together so that we could experience how Ashurbanipal's siege towers worked their magic!

Using Lego bricks, we made a kind of tower.  Our history book mentioned that Ashurbanipal made ramps (his were built from dirt) and then the siege tower was pushed up the ramp in order to attack the castle.

Adding a few characters to our historical play made it all even better.  With sound effects and battle sounds, my son's little siege tower did its destructive work, and our History Supplements remain his favorite part of Homeschool!  Yay for learning about history!

You can purchase this fun little siege tower and easily download it for printing here in our store.