Sunday, September 29, 2013

Ancient Greece

There is so much fascinating history during the Ancient Greek period. D loved this period in history and we spent a solid two weeks on it, and I bet we revisit this in two-three years and add a LOT of information!

 We started by adding this period in history to our giant timeline. I have a timeline that spans almost an entire wall, with pictures of each unit we study, so it's very visual. The end of the timeline is when C was born, so it is large. We also found Greece on the map, and talked about how Ancient Greece was MUCH larger than the land that Greece has now.

 Our library has so many great resources for history, I am just impressed by how well equipped we are to teach our children so much, for free!!! There were at least four books that were "Hands on activities to study Ancient Greece" ! Amazing.

 One of our favorite books to read was Hour of the Olympics, the Magic Tree House book. It covers a lot of information, as well as being a really easy read. D would say his favorite was the true story, comic-book version of Alexander the Great. I do NOT like "graphic novels" but D sat and listened to me read 100 pages of comics in one sitting. And somehow retained it. Crazy.

 And of course, the activities. The activities were AWESOME!

 We had our own version of the "Pentathalon" Olympic event. Our events were: Relay race, jumping, javelin throwing, discus, and Knucklebones (a real game that kids played in Greece!) to replace boxing....


We made our own olympic torch out of a pencil, paper, and a cardboard flame to pass during our relay race.

 This is knuckebones. VERY similar to the game marbles, but you'd use dried out bones or stones. Try to get the closest to the middle circle without getting knocked out!

 Javelin throwing! We used a broom stick. Kids loved this!

 We used a big, heavy ball to throw for discus, kids had a little trouble with that one.....but still begged me to have more olympic games for days afterwards!

We also learned that the Greeks used Mosaics to decorate their floors, so we made our own mosaic pan/coffee cup coasters. We just poured glue into an old lid, and decorated with beads, seeds, and beans. Very fun.

My favorite activity was reading about the story of the Trojan Horse. There are lots of great historical, and fictional accounts of Homer's famous poem. This lent itself to a lot of discussions about what poems are, what legends are, and how they often get fact and fiction mixed up! The boys made up a lot of rhyming poems, which I loved listening to (though they were absolutely ridiculous lol!) and, building our OWN Trojan Horse and re-enacting the story!!! Loved Loved this. This is the reason I homeschool. We used cardboard boxes. Cut a hole out of the bottom, and duct taped it to the wagon. Our garage door served as the wall surrounding Troy. D wanted to be Odysseus, obviously. I was stuck being a poor helpless Trojan who fell asleep. Somehow, I'm always getting stuck as the bad guy! We played this in our authentic costumes of course.

We read about Greek Jewelry making, and made our own stone necklaces using rocks we found, clear nailpolish, and copper wire. The kids then used their jewelry for "trading."

After this, we read a book about the creation of Greek coins to make trading easier! We made our own coins out of clay, and the kids bought a whole lot of treats from my cupboard. Don't worry, I then used all their coins to purchase a warhorse and take over their cities.

They each made their own sword and Greek shields.

Can you see that D painted a bull on his?? He did that all on his own! I was so proud! A Bull stood for strength.

 Yumm... Our Greek snacks. Shortbread cookies with Ricotta Cheese and honey. Greek Yogurt with honey and crushed almonds. A Hit!

After our Greek unit, I asked D if he wanted to take a break to study the ocean (which he is interested in!) to which he replied "No way! I want to keep studying Greece and Rome!"


Ancient Egypt activities

We have had a lot of fun traveling through Ancient Egypt

Our trip through Egypt
We read a fun book about a cave discovery with all sorts of artwork painted on the walls, so this is our version :-)

Homemade chariots! Kids loved this one!

My favorite activity during our Ancient Egypt unit was building sugar cube pyramids! All three kids loved doing this activity. It can be small (beginning with a 6x6 base) or huge (D started with 10x10 base!)
Warning: Sugar cubes are a little tricky to find!

After completion, he asked me to save it so that he can show it at the county fair... so it is still standing in our garage!! Even through a move to a new house!

This was another really fun activity. A lot of the books we read had maps of Ancient Egypt. We also located Egypt on our world map and drew in the Nile River and it's tributaries. So Cookie Dough maps seemed like the perfect activity!! We used premade cookie dough, blue frosting, a variety of candies to decorate. C made a mess, and ate it :) But D really took his time and added a lot of details!

 K LOVED this activity, and promised that she was NOT eating hers :-)

We found a really fantastic book about Hieroglyphs (called Hieroglyphs..) that had a stencil at the end. Each symbol corresponded to an alphabet sound. D wrote his entire name. Plus the word "Cat" and wrote a note to a friend with his name as well!  I was really really impressed!

A study of Egypt really isn't complete without making mummies. I found some dolls at a garage sale to use for this activity, because I really didn't want to touch a raw chicken. I pre-cut and glued sarcophogus' for the mummies, and the kids did the decorating. Then, we wiped down our mummies with oil, sprinkled cinnamon on them, and we used strips of linen (cut up pieces of white pillow cases..) dipped in a flour and water mixture to wrap around the dolls. It was pretty messy, and took 24 hours to dry (and also got moldy after a few days...) but overall, the kids really enjoyed doing it!!! Definitely worth the mess.

Makeup and costumes *of course!*

We also found a lot of great books to read at our library. Pete and Bill go Down the Nile was one of my favorite picture books. Magic School Bus had another great picture book. We also had fun watching a movie about Moses, Prince of Egypt, and learning about the role of God and His people in this influential and fascinating culture.

Greece comin' up next!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

So Much More

18 years ago, I thought I was on the brink of being a young woman. I was coming up on a big birthday, and thought I knew exactly what I wanted. I was no longer a baby, a toddler, a preschooler, even a child. I was growing up, and 12 seemed a significant age.

I was a fairly typical (for West Bloomfield) 12 year old girl, and I wanted whatever most of my friends were getting for their birthdays (I think it was a cell phone) Instead, I opened a birthday card from my dad a few weeks early, and saw a gift certificate for a vacation. A vacation. Not what I had asked for. In fact, we went on vacations fairly frequently and truly, I wasn't all that impressed. Never mind that I had an amazing time. Never mind that I learned to surf, and sail, and met people I never would have met otherwise. Never mind that it was WAY better than what I had asked for. I still really wanted that cell phone.

Fast forward 10 years. I'm 21, on the brink of adulthood, and I know exactly what I want (and yes, I already had a cell phone.) I want success, a fulfilling career, money, adventure. But, I was young, and spoiled, and when I read the results of the only test I had ever feared taking, I received a way different life. I saw my present going up in smoke. The long hours studying, the money, the dreams, replaced by diapers and exhaustion and thankless hours of laundry and dishes. I could see nothing beyond my shame, frustration, and anger that life wasn't turning out the way that I wanted.

In my hurt, in my fear, and in one of my darkest hours, I couldn't dream that God could do anything with the mistake that I had made.

But in God's Infinite Wisdom, He turned a mistake into a blessing. He turned the worst decision I could have made into the most life changing, amazing gift I could have received.

I am a mother to three really amazing, loving and funny children (REALLY funny.) I am a wife to a man who is honorable and generous and forgiving (SO forgiving.) I'm homeschooling D, and loving it. But these seven years haven't come without a lot of grumbling, a lot of pain, a lot of still really wanting that cell phone.

Last year, I went through a really dark year. A year of resentment. Towards God, my husband, my children, which I'm ashamed to admit. But in the moment that God opened the door to move to Alexandria, I felt God telling me to leave. To start over, and I really didn't want to. I wanted to hold on to that horrible frustrated feeling of a 12 year old girl, angry about a present she didn't want.

I have learned this year that I really have to lean on and be obedient to God in every moment. I have died to myself so many times in the last 12 months, I have lost count. I have stopped fighting for "what I want" and tried to live my life more generously towards my children and husband. And a funny thing happened, when I stopped fighting for myself, God stepped in. He brought me peace, and joy, and contentment.

And today, I accepted a position to be the director of The Windmill Project, a small nonprofit organization that connects and supports families of children with disabilities, that will allow me to work part time, from my own home. I am shocked by the opportunity and faith the community has in me, and know that it has been God's hand *alone* that has brought me here. I didn't go out searching for this job, I didn't fight my husband's wishes to accept this job, I didn't fight against God because I wanted this job, rather I kept stepping out in faith, praying continually, and found myself hired despite my stumbling.

I am telling this story to tell you. Whatever you are going through, whatever you have went through. God has such a better story to write for you than you can imagine for yourself, if you only let Him.

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you" 1 Peter 5:6