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Category: History

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.

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!

If you are studying Ancient Egypt, I highly recommend the National Geographic Classic Science Archaeology: Pyramid kit by Thames and Kosmos. It ties all of Satori’s interests together: archaeology, hieroglyphs, mummies, and of course pyramids.

It comes well-protected in a perfectly designed box and you’ll find your pyramid and treasures within, archaeologist tools (hammer, chisel, brush, peg), protective goggles, full-color manual, and a 3D paper cross section model. Satori fondly remembers her “paleontologist days” when studying prehistory, so she was so excited to begin excavating!

*READ THE DIRECTIONS* first, or you might miss out on some of the clever surprises! (You may not wish to read further if you want your own kit to be a surprise.)

Click on the image above to get the full detail and you’ll notice hieroglyphs on a certain level of each side of the pyramid. Satori quickly wrote down a translation, she needed no manual, she already had them memorized! These hieroglyphs of course had a few vowels and other letters that used the same translation, so once Satori wrote down the letters, Mama still had to help translate. But overall, this was a very cool puzzle. Satori was so happy that she basically solved it herself. Each side gave a message to tell you if this side was the entrance. Our first side said “TRY AGAIN”.

(There are more pictures, but I don’t want to spoil this kit for the people who want it to be a surprise!) Click “continue reading…” link below.

continue reading…

One of the activities in our Story of the World 1 Activity Guide is to build a pyramid. Their specific activity was to use sand and glue, but we wanted something simpler! So we use sugar cubes, simple yet perfect building blocks for a pyramid. All we needed was one box of sugar cubes (1 lb), some glue, and some cardboard to build it upon. To finish our pyramid off, we also used sand and gold paint.

Last night we had read a few read-along books about pyramids. You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pyramid Builder and Who Built the Pyramid? So we were familiar with all the many different jobs people had when building a pyramid – so it was fun to describe again these jobs as we prepared our very own pyramid, right down to the capstone.

First off we counted off the base of the pyramid – 36 cubes to build a 6×6 base.

From there we drew a line around our 36 cubes, only to take off the cubes, paint on a thick layer of glue, and then replace the  cubes.

We kept building up, next was a layer of 25 (5×5), 16 (4×4), 9, 4, and finally 1. I reminder Satori to place them tightly together, as the Ancient Egyptians did.

Once done, we painted the pyramid with glue, and sprinkled sand to give it a more authentic sand look. I did not have a more realistic sand color, and we probably would have been fine with keeping it white like limestone. To top it off, we painted the final block gold and set it on top for our capstone.

Now that I think back upon this, it would have been cool if we placed a tiny treasure inside the pyramid, then break into it later! Similar to our second pyramid activity which I’ll be blogging about next.

One of Story of the World’s most famous activities is “Mummifying a Chicken”. My local homeschoolers have dubbed the project “6 Weeks and a Chicken”. I think I’ve dreaded this for almost a year, as we are vegetarians and even if we weren’t, I don’t think I could handle a dead chicken carcass in the house with 3 cats for 6 weeks.

Instead we got the Lift the Lid on Mummies project. It comes with everything we need to prepare a body for mummification, but without an actual dead thing. 🙂 We get the body, organs, wrappings, canopic jars, death mask, sarcophagus and more.

To proceed, Satori carefully cut open the body to obtain the organs. (She simply lifted the top half of the body and inside were his organs).

The buzzword for the week for Satori is “canopic jar”. (She’s fascinated with these things and includes them in her daily drawings even). These little jars have the head of an Egyptian god and store the mummy’s organs.  We had to build the jar bodies, they are glossy paper rolled up and taped. (They suggest to glue it, but my glue wasn’t holding on the glossy paper, but tape worked perfect). Here is Hapi will be storing the lungs.

Next, we wrapped up the mummy with the bandages. I wish they would have included a teeny bit longer length of wrappings, but with care, we managed to wrap his whole body.

Satori carefully placed the amulets provided (turquoise-colored stickers) between the wrappings.

We carefully placed the death mask on the mummy head and placed him in his sarcaphagus with his cat mummy and canopic jars. Satori is holding up the prayer we read before sealing the coffin with the sticker.

We were both a bit wistful as we sealed his tomb. The mummy was so cool to play with, even some other five year old girls from the neighborhood enjoyed playing with him. I’m sure it won’t be long before a tomb robber discovers the tomb and opens up the coffin…

The Lift the Lid on Mummies project was well worth the investment. Also included was a very informative booklet that talked all about mummies!

Immediately after the above mummification, we set out Mummifying an Apple. This was not a SOTW Activity Project, but is a popular way to mummify a living thing. By just googling “mummify apple”, there are several descriptions of the process.

This was one way to experience the preservation process and see some results! Here I took an apple and cut two slices out of its middle.

After Satori scooped out its “organs” (apple seeds), we soaked it for a few minutes in a salt bath.

Oops, maybe I shouldn’t have given it a bath, as we then weighed the slice we were going to mummify. I’m sure extra moisture was weighed in. 🙂

Satori then got some math practice in as she measured half a cup of baking soda and half a cup of salt. After mixing it, we completely covered our special apple slice.

Day one. Mummified apple is covered in salts, we will take a look at both in one week!

Following the suggested activities in our Story of the World 1 Activity Guide, we gathered our little family once again on a Sunday night to do a family craft.

Satori already proved that she loved studying hieroglyphs, today she even tested me (and I failed) on my hieroglyph letters. She knows almost all of them (that stand for actual letters). Little kids have such great memories! Our first project was an Egyptian Hieroglyph Scroll. Without the guidance of our rubber stampers or stencils, and using just brush and paint (we should’ve used ink as suggested), it was tough! Satori gave up on her name and just drew random hieroglyphs.

While we let the hieroglyph paintings dry, we started with our clay and wedge stick to punch in some cuneiform!


We used 3 different clay types. The above chunk of clay was ideal, it came out of our Egyptian Hieroglyph Treasure Chest, along with the cuneiform stylus. But we only had one chunk, so we had to use others. Our Crayola Air Dray Clay was too hard and crumbly. (Maybe would have been fine if it was newly opened.) The Crayola Model Magic was easiest to work with, but it was too spongy and wouldn’t hold our markings well.

Then we set these out to dry overnight. I love the terracotta one, that was Satori’s. She added vertical lines and it really looks like a slab of ancient writing!

Back to our Hieroglyph scrolls, we attached two wooden dowels at the ends and rolled it up and tied with twine. They look so cool!

The scrolls have a nice crinkly, ancient parchment feel and are fun to unroll/roll up. 🙂 Satori now wishes she would have taken better care with her hieroglyph painting and wrote her real name. I told her we can do it again.

A few more Egyptian projects we tackled over the weekend… making a necklace:

This was from our Ancient Egypt: Start Exploring Treasure Chest.

Here’s another look at our Egyptian Nile Grass, growing nicely. We started this a week and a half ago. The river is going through a drought right now. 🙂

Mom also made this Egyptian dress, I found a quick no-sew project in one of our Egypt craft books.