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Category: Story of the World History

This is the second project we’ve done to go with the Story of the World Chapter 10 – The Far East: Ancient China. We made blue and white Ming Bowls out of clay, painted them with blue designs and then glazed with glue.

We’ve been using the soft Crayola Model Magic modeling material for projects involving clay as it’s so soft and easy to form for small hands. Satori formed her bowl over existing little bowls so we got a bowl shape.

We dried them for 24 hours.

To start the painting, Mama printed out some Ming Bowl examples from Google Images, got our blue paint ready, and our dry white bowls.

Satori decided to paint flowers on her bowl. Mama tried painting a dragon, bird, flowers and other designs. After the blue paint dried, we then glazed it over with a formula of 2 parts glue to 1 part water.

Our finished bowls! We did have rice for lunch, now I wish we would have served it up  in our new Ming bowls, perfect size for rice. 🙂

After googling “sotw ming bowl”, I found this website who approached the Ming Bowl project in a different way. Check out Shady Bayou Academy if you want more fancy, longer-lasting Ming plates!

We covered our Ancient China lesson months ago, but I really wanted to do projects for each Story of the World lesson, so this project is a bit late.

This is the pictogram for “house”, as described in our Story of the World text.

Satori built a complex pictogram that means “village”.  This page turned out to be more of a painting of a village rather than a word symbol. 🙂

Here is Satori’s pictogram for “mountains”.


Be sure to check out this neat Chinese Pictogram worksheet for more fun!

After reading books and watching videos on Ancient India for a few weeks, we set out to build the ancient city of Mohenjo-daro in the Indus Valley (in modern-day Pakistan and northwestern India). This mysterious city was built in 2600 BCE, abandoned around 1500 BCE, and finally rediscovered in 1922. It may have been the most advanced city in the world at the time, as it featured an extremely well-planned layout according to a grid pattern plan. At least 35,000 residents lived in the city.  It had a Great Granary to receive crops from the countryside, a Great Bath, a large central marketplace. The buildings were made of baked bricks and sometimes wood bricks. Most houses had bathrooms and the streets had an advanced and extensive drainage system.

So we set aside an hour this afternoon to build our own Mohenjo-Daro city. I chose this clay – Activ-Clay Air Dry 3.3 lbs tub which I think I found at Jo-Anns. It was already colored terra cotta, so we were able to skip the painting part at the end.

Once we smoothed out a slab 1/2″ thick, this kitchen cutter/chopper tool came in extremely handy to make perfect bricks. Satori is now cutting out slabs that are again 1/2″ thick.

Using our ruler, we then cut these into 1 inch bricks.


We laid them out in the Colorado sun to dry. Even though we got two feet of snow yesterday, today it is sunny, and that’s all that is needed for all that snow to melt very quickly. I shoveled a patch on our deck right when we started and it is already totally dry.

I found out later when Googling that they built their buildings out of baked bricks, which lasted longer than the Mesopotamian bricks which were only sun-dried. Our bricks will be only sun-dried, Colorado-style. 🙂

I think we let them dry maybe 30 minutes before they were hard enough to start playing with, yet squishy enough to press together if we wanted. Satori couldn’t wait to make her brick buildings.

A closeup of our bricks. Maybe not as perfect as Legos, but they sure are more authentic!

We even included the drainage system the city enjoyed.

We were supposed to glue the bricks together, but we decided to not to at this time, as Satori wanted to play with the bricks and make other things.

It is still a mystery why this city was abandoned. It could be due to a shift in the Indus River, or a decline in rainfall, or invaders. We cannot read their writings, so it is still a mystery.

We’ve been barreling through our history program, doing a chapter a week since we started in January. I envisioned us taking this a bit slower, especially since we’re doing this a bit more early than designed. We did finally slow down a bit this month, savoring history and its stories with read-alouds and such. The next few weeks we’ll be studying the ancient cultures of India, China and Africa. SOTW  covers each of these in one lesson, or one week each. We may continue the slower pace a bit for the next month, and do more read-alouds/activities. After that, it will be back to Egypt, covering the Middle and New Kingdoms of Egypt.

Last week we covered Assyria and then finally the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Gilgamesh is not all fairy tale, he actually was a real king living in Sumer a long time ago. Parts of the story are fantastical though, but it is such a great story. I highly recommend this 3-part series  (The Gilgamesh Trilogy) by Ludmila Zeman – Gilgamesh the King, Revenge of Ishtar, and The Last Quest of Gilgamesh.

Here’s some random pages, it is beautifully illustrated.

Satori has fallen in love with this story and has declared this one of her favorite books. A few weeks ago I would have said this was the oldest-known written story in the world, but then I discovered the 5000 year old story of Lugalbanda, who is most likely Gilgamesh’s father, according to the Sumerian king list. This story was not translated until the 1970’s and so is not quite as well known. So this week, we will be reading the book Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War: An Epic Tale From Ancient Iraq by Kathy Henderson.

Here is a drawing of Enkidu  (drawn by Satori). Enkidu was a hairy beast-man that became Gilgamesh’s friend. Here is Enkidu when he was still wild, with hair all over his body and horns on his head like an animal. He then was taught the ways of man, and shaved his hair, learned how to eat, drink, walk, and dress like a human.

We did this activity right after our Rosetta Stone project, to take advantage of the other half of the black foam board.

What we know of Hammurabi was that he was a king of Babylon (c 1796 BCE – 1750 BCE), who is known for the set of laws called Hammurabi’s Code, the first written codes of law in recorded history. They were written on a over seven foot tall diorite (dark grey igneous rock) stele (tall stone slab). A few examples of his laws were:

  • If a man puts out the eye of an equal, his eye shall be put out.
  • If anyone commits a robbery and is caught, he shall be put to death.

Sounds pretty severe! He was actually a fair king, much better than the king Shamshi-Adad we’re learning about this week.

Here’s our activity spread out before we started. Images of Hammurabi’s Code of Laws stele, our stele, pen, and a book.

This book, The Rules by Marty Kelley is a silly book with silly illustrations, but Satori loved it, and of course I’ve had to read it four times in the past 24 hours. 🙂 We’re not very strict parents and Satori is a good girl, so we don’t have too many rules around the house, so this book was actually helpful to read to get us both in the mindset of laying down some rules.

Just as in the original stone, there is a top section with a picture of Hammurabi giving his laws to someone. Satori illustrated Mama in a chair, giving the rules to her standing before the Mama.


Then, I simply had her list all the rules that she could think of!

The Rosetta Stone isn’t just an overpriced foreign language program often marketed in airports and at the mall. For us, it is far more important, for it allowed us a glimpse inside the Egyptian world. The stone itself, created in 196 BCE,  is a black stone with carved text comprised of three translations of a single passage – Egyptian hieroglyphics, demotic, and classical Greek. Discovered in 1799 in Rosetta, Egypt, but not translated until 1822, it allowed us to read the previously undecipherable hieroglyphic writing. Perfect for little 5 year old girls who love to read hieroglyphs!

Here it is sitting in the British Museum. Mama is kicking herself for not going there when we were right next door just four months ago!

I thought it would be fun to make our own project of a Rosetta Stone. But instead of Egyptian demotic and classical Greek, we’d  use the language we knew (English) and one we don’t have memorized (Sumerian cuneiform).  The other day at the office store, I picked up a large black foam board. I cut it in half (the other half was for our next project). I used a scissors and made it roughly in the shape of the Rosetta Stone that is chipped on almost all corners.

Next I used a few free online translation sites to print out a page using the three languages, saying the same  phrase in each: My name is Satori.  Here’s the websites I used:

I gathered up all the materials. I got a large image of the Rosetta Stone printed out, my 3-translation sheet, our “Rosetta Stone” foam board, and a book. We re-read Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs by James Rumford. Satori was so much more interested than the first time we read it – the day I introduced Egyptian writing to her. Since then, she’s learned so much!

Using our translation sheet as a guide, Satori started writing the  phrase “My Name is Satori”. We used a metallic pen so it would s how up nicely on the black board.

We did not forget to make a cartouche around her name. This was one of the important clues that helped translate the hieroglyphs. And see how it is shaped similar to the actual Rosetta Stone?

Today was such a gorgeously beautiful day. The sun was shining, we actually did our lessons out on the deck today. Birds tweeting all around us… Snow still all around, but we basked in the hot sun which made it feel like the perfect spring day…

Story of the World Chapter 6 covered “The Jewish People”. The whole family watched DVDs from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Joseph, Satori enjoying Joseph: King of Dreams the most.

For the related SOTW activity, I had Satori lie down and I traced around her on a large sheet of paper.

Since it was so big, Mama pitched in and helped color in the boring parts like the pants.

And the finished Satori in her Coat of Many Colors!