Saturday, July 27, 2013

Homemade History - Week 2

Last week we discussed prehistory; this week we moved forward a little bit.  Enjoy!

Week 2 Topics:  Nomads; The First Farmers

Monday: Reading and notes.  This week's reading suggestions were from Story of the World (chapter 1 - M2 particularly enjoyed this, as it was new to her), Kingfisher Book of the Ancient World (pp. 14-19), and Usborne World History (pp. 84-108).

Tuesday:  M1 had a little more reading that he wanted to finish, so he did that, and then the kids and I discussed topics for the mini-reports they're going to do.  M1 is going to write a short (perhaps four- or five-paragraph) report; M2 is only required to write one paragraph.  They got to pick their topic - anything ancient history was fair game.  M1 selected the Olmecs, and M2 wanted to learn about Egyptian clothes, jewelry, and home decor.  We'll work on these projects a little each week for the next few weeks and finish them up in week 8.  In week 10 they'll pick a new topic.  We'll wind up doing four 'reports' total by the end of the year.

Wednesday:  Video day!  We started with History Pockets and went over topics that civilizations share (specialization of labor, religion, arts/entertainment, a system of government, etc.) and what the basic needs of a human are (food, water, shelter, and possibly clothing... M1 also made sure we knew air was essential).  Then we watched a few videos.  We started with Making Stone Age Weapons and Irrigation in Egypt before visiting National Geographic and watching a video about some ancient springs in Texas.  I really wanted the kids to watch a PBS video about an atlatl, but I couldn't get it to work and haven't heard back from them yet about whether this issue is going to be resolved or not (maybe a little more pestering couldn't hurt?), so we bounced over to Youtube and watched an atlatl video there instead.  Finally, we wound up watching a few more videos on Youtube by searching for "ancient homes."  I think M2 might use at one of them as a reference in her report.

Thursday:  Again, we used History Pockets.  The kids wrote down definitions for the words civilization, ancient, and history and outlined the basic human needs that we covered on Wednesday.  Then M1 answered the question, "Why were ancient cities usually built near large bodies of water?"  His first answer about drinking water didn't hold water when I reminded him that many of them were beside an ocean, so he actually had to think about the rest of his answer, which was the point.  Score one for Mama on critical thinking.

Friday:  Project day!  I don't have any photos of M2 this time, because she elected to play the Iron Age Life game from the BBC For Kids history site.  She liked it so well that she actually played it twice.


M1 asked if he could make his own pottery.  I had purchased some terra-cotta air-drying clay, and he requested to use that to make his pottery more 'authentic.'  (For the record, he does know that clay normally gets fired in a kiln.  Nobody that's related to my dad - or me, if I'm honest - could grow up not knowing that.)


He made a lovely little pot and a lid to match.  He's very excited about his creation and is eager for it to finish drying.

Then, then we all went to the kitchen...

Steel-cut oats
 ... for a little lesson on grains.

Flax cereal and wheat grown from birdseed
that fell in our garden area this spring
First we went through the pantry and found as many different grains as possible and discussed where in the world each grain originated.

Cornmeal and buckwheat flour
The kids were surprised how many different grains... and legumes... and regions of the world... we had represented in our kitchen alone.

Clockwise from top left: white rice, roasted and seasoned chickpeas, navy beans,
popcorn,  couscous, quinoa, barley; Center: red lentils
After we demonstrated our grain-fed diversity, we cooked a few of the grains - particularly the couscous and quinoa I'd picked up especially for the project - and tasted them.  For fun, I also cooked up the barley and the popcorn, and I'd already roasted and seasoned the chickpeas the previous evening.  The kids liked everything, but our Western palates craved more flavor.  I wound up adding a touch of kosher salt to everything except the chickpeas.

Next week:  Aborigines and Pacific Islanders

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