Sunday, August 18, 2013

Homemade History, Week 5

This is our last week of traveling around the world at what seems like warp time/speed.  In week 6, we're headed back to Mesopotamia.  Still, this week was fun!  We watched several videos, sketched maps, and even built our own version of a calendar in the round.

Week 5 Topic:  Ancient America - Mesoamerica, Olmecs and Maya

Monday:  Reading and notes.  M2 read the Story of the World (chapter 26) and Usborne World History (pp. 178-181); M1 read the Kingfisher Book of the Ancient World (pp. 130-137) and the Usborne pages as well.

Tuesday:  The kids worked on their papers.  M1 felt especially prepared for this week's lesson due to the studying he'd already been doing on the Olmecs, so I let him share some of his findings with M1 and me.  He liked that.  

Wednesday:  We put together a map on Wednesday.  We started by using a blank black-line map of the Americas, both north and south.  Using the following maps, we drew a rough map of SOME of the ancient tribes in the Americas:

Eastern North America
Southwestern North America
Mesoamerica
We also talked a bit about the fact that there were tribes in what is now Canada, South America, etc. but that they simply aren't discussed very often and that we aren't going to cover them in this class... and I made sure the kids were aware that not all of these tribes overlapped, either.  It's hard to pick and choose, ya know? 

I also gave M2 his questions on Wednesday:  
1.  Would you have preferred living with the Olmecs or the Maya? (The Olmecs won his vote.)
2.  Both of these peoples played ball games.  If you were going to invent a ball game, what would you call it?  What would some of the rules be?  (M1 really liked this question and came up with a sort of hand ball/lacrosse game that I thought would be quite interesting.)  

Thursday:  We started with definitions (temple, sacrifice, fortification, peninsula) and moved from there to videos.  We didn't watch all of this video on the Olmecs, but we did watch some of it; we also watched this video on Mayan math.

Friday:  Friday project!  First, we watched this short video about the basics of the Mayan calendar.  I explained to the kids that the Maya didn't have weeks - only years, months, and days, as well as longer epochs on the (not shown in the video) Long Count calendar.  This confused the heck out of M2, so we set out to make our own mostly-Mayan-based calendar in the round.  Wikipedia to the rescue! Soon after (and I apologize for the poor photography) we constructed our own calendar in the round.  The kids loved finding their birthdays in rough Mayan equivalent.  Some other activities that we considered were resurrecting the atlatl idea, drinking spiced hot chocolate, and playing around with Mayan math/numbers (which M1 had done in the past).


Next week:  The Fertile Crescent/Mesopotamia, Sumerians, Akkadians

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