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Category: SOTW 1: Ancient Times

Satori and the family really enjoyed learning about Early Crete this week. There were three stories in our SOTW book – Bull-Jumpers and Sailors, King Minos and the Minotaur, and Mysterious End of the Minoans. When Daddy got home on Saturday, Satori regaled him with her perspectives of the stories. For example, as we went shopping for school supplies (we start tomorrow in a 1-day/week), she told David that if she lived in Ancient Crete, she would be going to school to be a bull jumper. She then described bull jumping in detail. She also chatted away about the volcano, which we re-created today.

Using Plaster of Paris and some water, we molded a volcano around a plastic cup. The SOTW Activity Guide suggests “working quickly”, and I suppose I should’ve paid attention to that instead of letting Satori play with her plaster while I snapped away with the camera. It started hardening faster than I expected! Both David and I swooped in to help out with the volcano formation before it got too hard.

Once we made our volcano, we transferred it outside where it would dry quickly. Here we mixed brown and black paint to paint our volcano. Again, the book suggested “water proof” paint, which I ignored, and used washable paint. We were only going to use this volcano one day, so it was okay.

Here’s our finished volcano on the island of Thera! It almost looks like a chocolate cake with frosting! (If I made a cake, it would probably look like this, I blame it on the altitude as always.)

As we waited for our volcano to dry, we read this fantastic book, The Hero and the Minotaur by Robert Byrd. I highly recommend it! The illustrations were so beautiful. The handy map in front and back of the book was great to follow the adventures. Not only did it cover the story of Theseus and the Minotaur in more detail than SOTW story, but Byrd also covers the story of Icarus and his flying wings.

Our volcano dried rapidly in the Colorado sun, so we called Daddy over to help mix up our chemical experiment. Satori then poured the vinegar into the baking soda.


Out came our frothy lava! I may have used too much liquid soap, it looks a bit too frothy.

Here’s our volcano surrounded by lava. Here’s what Thera looks like today.

We then settled in to watch The Minotaur’s Island – the history of Minoan civilization and its mythical minotaur.  We learned more about the amazing Minoan civilization with their magnificent palaces, flush toilets, and labyrinths. It covered it all – the bull leapers, the minotaur and King Minos (even showed his throne seat), and the Thera volcano. Satori actually watched this three times, twice in the car, and once with Mama on the TV. Here is it on Amazon and Netflix.

We will be studying Ancient Greece next, and we’ll be savoring all the Greek mythology, history, and culture for the next few months.

Today the family pulled out our little LEGO assortment to do a few recent SOTW history activities. For the first project, Daddy helped Satori build an Assyrian siege tower.

Earlier I had printed out a sample LEGO siege tower I found on Google so they had some idea of how to build one.

We didn’t have enough pieces to build an elaborate one, but it was able to do the job to break into this castle!

Woody saves the day!

While that was being built, Mama worked on building a Minoan labyrinth, like we re read about in the story King Minos and the Minotaur maze. Only instead of a minotaur in the middle, I put a terrifying man-eating flower at the end of the maze!

Here is Theseus with a light and he’s about to go in with his ball of yarn to slay the flower.

Satori threaded some yarn all through the maze…

And she got Theseus to rope the man-eating flower! He saved the people of Athens!

For more Minotaur Maze fun, we purchased Theseus and the Minotaur for the iPad. It’s $2.99 and a fun puzzle game.

We actually started this several days ago, but only finished it on Friday. In our Story of the World readings, we learned more about the Phoenicians, who were famous for their purple dye. They made them from the  mucous secretions of a sea snail.

Mmmm… Instead we used an expired bag of frozen blueberries. We boiled it for an hour.

At least that’s how long you’re supposed to boil the blueberries! Mama spaced it while she was updating the blog and ended up with the house stinking like burnt blueberries! Anyone want blueberry crisp?

Luckily I had more blueberries so we tried again, although we had to use our fresh, organic blueberries. At least this time we had more success. For our SOTW activity, we were to dye pasta shapes, so we dunked some in. This wheel shape pasta was the most “fun” shape I could find.

This dye looked super potent and I was a little apprehensive as we tried not to spill or splatter it!

Mistake #2: I let the pasta sit in the dye too long and they turned out almost-black. I wanted to show Satori something dyed actually purple, so I found some white yarn and we dyed that too. Perfect to make a beaded necklace!

A day after drying…

Satori beading her necklace.

Finished product! David was very lucky and got a necklace too.

The Phonenicians were famous for this royal purple dye and it fetched its weight in silver. It took 12,000 of these mollusks to extract just 1.5 grams of dye! Needless to say, it was very expensive and only elite or royalty could afford it.

The Phoenicians were known for their ships and trading throughout the ancient world. Just a few of the things they traded were their glass (they had amazing glass blowing skills) and their purple dye. Today we did two projects – here’s the first.

One of the SOTW Activity Guide projects is to make pretend colored glass. We selected a picture to put inside our “glass”, and thought we might as well choose a picture of a Phoenician boat I got off Google images.

Meanwhile, I set Satori off to make some crayon shavings from some crayons and stubs we no longer use. We also cut up some colored thread.

We sprinkled the crayon shavings and thread on our picture and enveloped it in two pieces of wax paper.

Mama took the iron to it and we ended up with a pretty colored glass picture! You cannot really see our Phoenician boat anymore, but I wasn’t really sure why we were supposed to stick a picture in there anyway, the color threads and crayon bits look awesome by themselves.

We hung it up in our window to admire!

Tomorrow we will finish our Phoenician purple dye activity and I’ll tell of our blueberry disaster!

I’ve been letting our history lessons slide if I’m not prepared to do the activities, so I’ve decided to just keep going with the readings and do a bunch of the activities in one day when we’re more prepared. For SOTW’s Middle Kingdom of Egypt we already made our Hyksos chariot, but this week we re-read it as a review and did a few more activities. Satori got a kick out of mom continually having to refer to the pronunciation chart in the back of the book to pronounce Amenemhet, Ahmose, Tutunkhamen, Thutmose, Hatshepsut. Satori of course had it all memorized the first time, she’s got such a good memory. A day later, I heard her murmuring some of these hard Egyptian names when playing with her Barbies.

For this lesson, I thought I’d use the whiteboard to “act-draw” the lesson out, mostly to help me retain it all. It actually turned out fun and Satori loved it! This board illustrated the Middle Kingdom of Egypt, how Amenemhet looked to Nubia to expand, bringing gold and other items like monkeys into Egypt. The Egyptians renamed Nubia Kush. Later, Nubians became an important part of Egypt, such as Queen Tiye (Tie-ee). Then the Hyksos came down with their new weapons and chariots, ruled for Egypt 100 years, until Ahmose drove them out.

Some of the activities we did included making  golden bracelets.

For this craft, I used a Scott toilet paper roll (they don’t leave toilet paper residue), cut it in half, and then cut lengthwise. Painted it in gold and let dry.

Then Satori put them on her little arms.

Also a suggested activity was burning incense. Might as well make a lesson multi-sensory!

Anyway, from now on, we will be on schedule for our SOTW history lessons, even if we go for several weeks simply reading the book and doing the Activity Guide coloring pages/maps. We can easily review with audio. The fun crafts and activities won’t hold us up any longer!

Last summer we had the pleasure to host a guest from South Africa for the weekend. Every morning he made himself fried bananas! We never tried them… until today. Our SOTW Ancient Africa activities included a lot of recipes to try, and since we’re vegetarians, we decided to go with an easy one.

This was our first time eating a plantain. It looked a little overripe, but it worked out fine.

They were more challenging to peel than a normal banana, so I cut it in three pieces and went from there. Then I sliced them into 1/4″ slices. We don’t fry things much, so all I had to fry them in was coconut butter. About a minute on each side.

I also wanted to make the Mango Rice, but I forgot to pick up mangoes. So we just had the Fried Plantains with white rice. And this was our dinner tonight! (A typical dinner for us lately is brown rice and some sort of bean, so this wasn’t that unusual.)

They were delicious!!

This afternoon while David was preparing his hot chocolate, he started joking around and proclaimed he wanted to go to Jo-Anns and get some materials to do some crafts. In the blink of an eye, I set out craft materials for a SOTW project Satori and I were going to do this week. He eased into the craft and we turned it into a family craft night!

Satori is now studying the Middle Kingdom of Egypt and after reading “The Hyksos Invade Egypt”, we learned that the Egyptians grew weak and were invaded by the Hyksos. The Hyksos were warrior nomads who easily conquered Egypt with their superior weapons and a light-weight horse-drawn chariot. Eventually the Egyptians copied these tools of warfare and drove the Hyksos out using their own technology!

Here’s a few drawings of Egyptian chariots and weapons. For the parents wanting to learn more about this time, here’s =a 7.5 page PDF document about these chariots and the Hyksos.

This craft was much easier to do than I anticipated. It was one of our first experiences using a hot glue gun, sorry David for not warning you how hot that glue was going to be! Our chariot is a bit bigger than the ones pictured above, but it served its purpose. Our Egyptian warrior was proudly carried around in it.

Just for giggles, Satori also wanted me to shoot a picture of our Egyptian fighting off a Dimetrodon. She knew the Dimetrodon was from prehistoric Permian period and this scene could never have taken place!