Well, four years later, we are back where we started in our four year history cycle with Ancient Egypt.
First off, I will readily admit, I really don’t have much interest in Ancient Egypt. The first time around it was kind of fun and I learned a lot of really cool things that were interesting. The kids had a good time.
But the second time around, I just kept thinking, “why?”
Why do we learn about Ancient Egypt? Is it because we just have more records, monuments, and artifacts from that civilization than any other from way, way back in the day?
I’m sure there are a lot of good reasons to know about mummifying and whatnot, but I’m gonna say my first hunch is also a pretty good one.
Moving on to things more relevant…
This summer, knowing we were about to embark on another Ancient Egyptian adventure, I made sure my kids and I visited the mummy in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. I wasn’t able to take any pictures, though, because they kids said they all felt like they were going to throw up once they saw the actual mummy so we just left. Yes, that was disappointing. But vomit on the floor of a very busy museum is more disappointing. So we left.
So far, well, I guess we can see it can only get better from there, right?
Don’t worry, it gets better.
Exhibit A: We read A LOT of books! Because we are awesome at reading, and so far I have found that even my oldest, now in 5th grade and an avid reader himself, really just likes to have someone read a story to him. (The Story of the World is our backbone. I don’t buy the activity books that go along with it. But we really enjoy reading it and using it as a springboard for ideas to look up at the library.)
Exhibit B: Two of the books we checked out of the library were project and activity books. Generally, you could check out just one such book and practically skip all the others. These books, when done well, are really, really fantastic. They are so full of information AND lots of projects as well. I let the kids each pick out a couple of projects to do, thinking they might do them on their own in their spare time, but in the end we really only finished the two that we had planned on doing together anything. I’m fine with that. I didn’t really need a double sided battle ax or a cat statute, anyway. Which leads us to…
Ok, here are the pictures in the book…
And here is what we were able to make on our own…
House number 1, with baboon guards on the roof, “horses” drinking from the pond in the yard, multiple pots, a little woven blanket, a sheep, a granary (that’s the grey lump), and a little statue of the god, Bes, to look of thee inhabitants of the house.
My role in the entire creation of this house was to cut out the cardboard (I don’t care how old my kids get, I’m not brave enough to hand over the exact-o knife!), start the little woven blanket, and provide all the materials! Can you tell those are baboons? No. Can you tell those stick like creations are horses? No. Does it matter? Not one bit.
House number 2, made almost 100% (that exact-o knife thing again!) by my 5th grader.
So the book suggested you “paint” plaster of paris onto the cardboard.
Here’s a little tip from one whose been there. That is not as easy as you would think. First of all, make sure your plaster of paris is almost set up, otherwise you are just making your cardboard box soggy. Second of all, your cardboard box is going to get soggy, pretty much no matter what. Third of all, plaster of paris doesn’t stick to plastic tape remnants left on your box from the last time it was sent through the postal service. (Also, hot glue doesn’t stick very well to the plaster, either.) And last of all, that stuff just dries and chips off EVERYWHERE! So maybe just anticipate a lot of vacuuming.
Nile River Scene. I did put on the “river” and the “reeds” and burnt my finger with my industrial strength 40 year old hot glue gun of death. Oh, the sacrifices we must make!! But the kids made the reed boat, the alligator, and the hippo head. I tried to convince them to add LEGO guys to the scene to make it look more exciting, but no one was willing to give up any of their LEGOs, even just for a photo op.
Exhibit D: Another go around with the exact same Ancient Egypt Lapbook we did four years ago!! Because the 5th grader (who was a 1st grader back then and remembered having so much fun) really, really, really needed to make another one.
Lapbooks in the making…
One of the finished products…
I did buy the materials to make another pyramid, but, like the battle ax and cat statue, we just never got around to it. Lapbooks take a lot of time and so do big projects. I was not willing to spend more than about 6 weeks on Egypt this year, so again, some things just had to go. (Just FYI, six weeks of history is more like 12 to 14 afternoons in our homeschool.)
But I did save that last photo for the very end on purpose. Besides just learning about Ancient Egypt, we have also read the concurring chapters in our Story of the World book about the other ancient civilizations, one of which is that of the Ancient Israelites. It just so happened that Ancient Israel came to us! I’ve done history field trips before (like state history and even Renaissance Fairs and such), but this field trip back to the ancient Sinai Wilderness was really cool!
Now, if I had been thinking more in advance – or really if they lived closer to us – I would have had my brother, who lived in Alexandria, Egypt for 5 years before moving on to Saudi Arabia, and my parents, who visited him there and did all the touristy tours, come and show us fun things they had brought back, or at least make my kids sit through a slide show of all their grandparent’s awesome adventures in the hot Egyptian dessert in the middle of summer (my mother seriously looked like she was going to melt in every single picture! Poor mom!) But, sadly, bro is still in Saudi and my parents are currently missionaries, so we wont bewail too much what could have been, and just look fondly back on what actually was.
And with that, well, besides the really cool looking book of Ancient Egyptian mythology I picked up last minute at the library for the kids to peruse on their own, we are all done with Egypt!!
Well, I guess we are done for the next four years.
Egypt was great.
Ancient Greece, though, is going to be amazing!