Ancient Greece: the Grand Finale (and Dinosaurs)

I know I am about three weeks late on this post.

But I blame the flu.

Our last Greek adventures actually started the first day someone in our family came down with a fever, body aches, and the chills. Not so good health wise, but not so bad when you need calm, mellow children for your project.

My 3rd grader was perusing through the ancient Greek projects books, and she decided she wanted to make theatre masks. The book had you working with saw dust and clay and who knows what else I didn’t feel like hunting down, so we went the easy way out and I bought that craft plaster fabric stuff. Sure, it wasn’t anything like the project in the book – we didn’t have holes for our eyes and the mouths weren’t open in a huge smile or frown to depict the good guy and the bad guy of the play – but it was fun. And the kids worked up their courage to be plastered. Well, three out of four of them, anyway.

Can you tell which one wasn’t feeling very well? He was the guinea pig. After the other two saw that he could do it, they took the plunge.

(So, if you haven’t done this before, you smear the kids’ faces with vaseline – especially their eyelashes and eyebrows. You wet little strips of plaster fabric, squeeze off excess water, and then just form a cast around their faces. It takes maybe 15 minutes or so for the cast to harden enough for you to pull it off. Have the kids scrunch up their faces over and over again and slowly pry it off. I started on the sides, but it probably doesn’t matter what angle you come from. Then let them dry some more for a day or two before painting and decorating.)

Honest mom moment: I saw the boys’ masks and let out a little sigh of disappointment, trying to come up with some comforting words to say about how they didn’t need to feel bad or discouraged. The masks looked very creative. Not so much Greek or theatrical (ok, maybe they could pass as theatrical in a sense) but very… nice? I just didn’t want them to feel so bad about having worked on this multi day project and ending up with such lackluster results.

But it turns out, there was no need to worry. They think those masks are the most awesome things in the world! They turned out just how they wanted them! They couldn’t be happier!

Just a reminder, then, I guess. Maybe it’s better not to assume your kids are going to live up to your creative and artistic expectations or even have the same expectations. Let them be happy in the stage where they are. (Plus, honestly, I probably couldn’t make my mask look any more professional either.)

My daughter worked so hard on hers and for so long, almost frustratingly so.  But now she hides it behind your window curtains because “It kind of creeps me out!”

Ok, project number two! We made black figure pottery! (We also did this four years ago, but it was so fun and easy, that we all wanted to do it again.)

We just used regular white air dry clay from Walmart, formed it around an empty and cleaned out yoghurt cup, and used the roll-out-snake method for making the handles. Obviously these little “pots” aren’t really the shape of Greek vases or wine jugs, but that isn’t really the point.

The point is to play with clay and paint something!!

Obviously. 🙂

These also take a few days to dry. I used a mixture of red, brown, and a little yellow acrylic paint to come up with a ruddy red color. After the paint dried (yay for acrylics that dry relatively quickly), we used permanent black markers to draw historical and mythical scenes on the pots. (Some of us just painted a paper plate.) (Bonus points for the kid who let me put a bed sheet Greek toga on him as an apron while he painted.)

Here is what we came up with… Tada!!

Top Left: The Temple of Zeus in Olympia. Bottom Left: The battle of Marathon where the Persians are landing on the beach. Bottom Middle: More of the battle of Marathon. Top Right: Zeus holding a lightning bolt up in a cloud. Right Middle: Um… obviously a ship. I don’t remember much more about that side of the cup. And Bottom Left: We call this creativity. And we don’t hinder it. Especially in preschoolers.

The week following we were all so dog sick, we just slept a lot. And watched two documentaries on dinosaurs – one more specifically on Allosaurus.  Both excellent and come highly recommended… by me.

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Sleeping a lot

Finally… (finally, thank goodness!) we were all better enough to leave our house. So we went on a Greek field trip!

The best I could come up with was a Greek restaurant I had seen on previous field trips to the Scarecrow Festival and the Renaissance Faire.

So we drove up and ordered us the most foreign sounding things on the menu.

Souvlaki, Dolmathes, Spanakopita, Pita Bread (ok, not so foreign sounding), Baklava, and Loukoumades.

The french fries were kind of just an added bonus, I guess.  I asked the preschooler what he liked best.

“Um… the french fries. And that one dessert thing (the baklava.)”

I asked the 5th grader what his favorite was.

“I really just liked EVERYTHING!”

Bonus points to the 5th grader.

The first time I had Greek food was in a fancy Greek restaurant in Germany. I had only been in Germany for a month or two and my language skills weren’t awesome. I ordered something with eggplant because (one) I had never tasted eggplant and that sounded adventurous, and (two) “eggplant” was one of the few words on the menu I could understand.

It was not delicious.

Considering this restaurant served fries with all their meals and they also had burgers, chicken nuggets, and corn dogs on the menu, I’m gonna assume our meal wasn’t entirely authentic.

But I’m not going to complain. It was fun! And we never eat out so my kids were ecstatic.

And just for fun (and to make the drive worth it) we ended our spontaneous sick day mini unit on dinosaurs with a trip to the Museum of Ancient Life. Two field trips for the price of one!

Ah, the perks of homeschooling!

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