June 9, 2012

Ancient Middle East Overview

We started our Ancient History unit by spending seven weeks on the Middle East.  Three weeks on Mesopotamia, two weeks on the Persian Empire, and two weeks on Bible Lands.

Week One: Made a salt map of the Middle East region, created a poster that delineated the benefits and drawbacks to agrarian and nomadic lifestyles, and did a bartering activity to help our kids understand labor diversification.

Week Two: We thought of this as inventions day and made a chariot after talking about some of the things that the Sumerians invented.

Week Three: We read a book about funny laws in the United States and compared those laws to Hammurabi's code.  Then we wrote our names in cuneiform on a clay "tablet."  We finished up by making a ziggurat out of cake.

Week Four: We talked about the importance of the Persian Empire and the stories that came from that area of the world that later became the Arabian Nights.  We acted out Ali Baba and the 40 thieves.

Week Five: We pretended to be a Persian pony express and raced messages to the king.  We also carved bas relief pictures out of ivory soap.

Week Six: We had a Purim party.

Week Seven: We didn't do anything because of various and sundry reasons but we were going to use a large foam board and put pushpins in the map that depicted the travels of various Old Testament prophets like Abraham and Joseph.  I will still do that, but on my own and not in history group.  Other ideas we had for Bible Lands included going to Antelope Island (a protected national park in the area) and reenact wandering in the wilderness for 40 years and the fight at Masada.

Week Eight: Order all the Egypt books off my list and get ready for the next section of our unit.  I am so glad I took the time to go through all the books before we started.  It was madness and a bit of nightmare reading through at least a hundred books in a month and a half, but yesterday I got on the computer and requested all the books on my list and tomorrow I am going to pick them up and then I can jump into planning activities.  It is such a great feeling knowing that I don't have to figure out which books to use.  It also is giving me some extra time to focus on science.  Nice.


  1. How is it that you get your books the day after requesting them?! Is your library system faster than mine?

  2. Most of the books I requested were already at my library--but yes, if I order from their system I usually wait no longer than 2 days.