The last two weeks of homeschool have been awesome. In fact, in Jonas’ words, “it was the bomb!” (I think he picked up that phrase from a movie, haha.) Our second week of school covered the events of the Tower of Babel and we became familiar with the geography of ancient Mesopotamia.
The kids each made a model ziggurat. After a first layer of brown paint, we mixed salt into a second batch of paint and coated the ziggurats with that mixture to add “realistic” texture.
I read a great tip about map work with kids this age – especially boys. Often, their handwriting is still on the large-and-laborious side at this age, so using preprinted sticky labels is a great way to allow them to demonstrate that they know the locations of the map features without becoming frustrated at trying to print all those words in those small spaces.
In our research of the ancient Sumerians, we learned about cuneiform tablets and cylinder seals. We made our own “cylinder seals” out of cardboard tubes and yarn. Once they were dry, we dipped them in paint and rolled them down a long sheet of paper. Jonas was SO EXCITED to see that “it worked!” — the images we’d formed from yard really imprinted!
Susannah was home with us on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and she participated in making the ziggurats and cylinder seals. I also had some “new to her” activities, like printing letters in our cornmeal box. She was in tactile child heaven! I am consistently impressed by how much Susannah already knows about letters and numbers. She has absorbed so much information just through play and by being nearby her older brother’s work.
On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, she was off to “Parents’ Day Out” at Settle. Once again this year, she loves it! On Friday, she picked a couple of dandelions from our yard to take to her teacher. It was so cute; brought back memories of many a sweaty fistful of
weeds flowers I received in my school-teaching days.
On Tuesday the 21st, we had our first get-together for a new “preschool & primary playgroup” for our homeschool group. It started out really well, with seven families coming to Chautauqua Park to play and fellowship. It ended early for us, when Susannah slipped away and crossed a very busy street by herself. I managed not to have a heart attack or a panic attack, and we made it home safely.
Week 3 covered the lives of the Patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. We traced the travels of these men and their families from Ur in Mesopotamia, to the Promised Land, and then into Egypt.
Project-wise, we made another map and a family tree; inserts for our lapbook; added to our timeline; played a card game about ancient Middle Eastern hospitality customs; watched a VeggieTale take on the story of Abraham (“Abe and the Amazing Promise”) and the DreamWorks animated story of Joseph, and shopped for ingredients to make a meal fit for a Patriarch!
Thanks to an awesome Pampered Chef chopper that Mimi gave me for Christmas, the kids were able to safely chop the onions and garlic for our stew:
I cooked the onions and garlic in olive oil under careful supervision. Then we added 4 cups of beef stock, 3/4 c of washed lentils, and 3/4 c of rice. After it came to a boil, we put a lid on the stockpot and let it simmer until the lentils and rice were soft.
While our meal cooked, we donned our costumes. (There are suggestions in our curriculum for making tunics and whatnot, but my sewing machine is broken. This is a make-do costume: a Daddy t-shirt for a tunic, playsilk for a belt, scrap fabric for a head covering, and Mama’s elastic hairband to hold the head covering in place.) Susannah briefly wore the head covering Jonas picked out for her (pink fabric with a purple elastic) but wouldn’t hold still for a picture. And I had a “head covering” from the scarf my sister-in-law brought me from India with a blue elastic.
To go with our lentil stew (which, Jonas remarked, “even looks old!”) we had goat cheese and crackers, and dried figs. When I posted this on Facebook, Jonas’ grandmother asked if he really ate that. And actually, all three kids ate every bit of it. The excitement of having shopped for the ingredients and helped with the cooking probably helped – but it really was tasty. They cleaned their plates and went back for more.
Over dinner, we talked a bit about the lives of the Patriarchs and the example of faith they set for us. We also talked about some of the practical parts of life in the Old Testament – like the fact that they probably scooped up their stew with hunks of bread. At that point, Jonas abandoned his spoon and ate the rest of his dinner with his crackers.
When Chris got home Friday night, he asked Jonas how school had gone. “OH,” he raved, “school was just awesome.” I can’t help but smile when I hear that! Now that the children of Israel are in Egypt, over the next three weeks our studies will turn to the Nile, pyramids, Pharoahs, mummies, and eventually to the coming of Moses and the Hebrews’ exodus from slavery. As Jonas puts it: “WOOHOO!”