Over the past few months, we have studied several ancient civilizations in our history lessons. We have covered Sumeria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Biblical Patriarchs, Indus Valley, ancient China, Minoans and Mycenaeans and ancient Maya. The last time we covered ancient history, my son was in the second grade. The curriculum was much different back then (easier) as I just covered the basics. Now, he is twelve years old and in 6th grade, and we have rotated back to cover ancient civilizations again. This time around, we are able to discuss things together which makes learning about this period very interesting. One book I am using, mainly as our read aloud time, is John Haywood’s The Ancient World. The information is higher than middle school, but the photographs are amazing.
During the study of the Maya civilization, we constructed an ancient Mayan Temple. My son and I really enjoyed making it, but it was a lot to do in only one week. Each layer had to dry before another layer could be added. Our house is a constant 67 degrees F, and it took a while for the mortar to dry. The instructions said to use a hair dryer, but that did not work well at all. Luckily, I used two alternate ways to dry it quickly. First, I used my oven and turned it on to the lowest temperature at 170 degrees F and then turned it off when it reached temperature. Then, I cracked the oven door for a few minutes to bring the temperature down to 100 degrees or so, and carefully put the temple inside the oven. Second, I sat it on the hearth in front of the fire. Both heating methods dried the mortar quick enough. Otherwise, I think it would have take us two weeks or more to build.
We meticulously worked at buidling each level, my job was mixing mortar and spreading it and my son laid the bricks. I used a minature wheelbarrow and mason’s trowel (cute!) Over the course of five days, we finished building the mini-Mayan temple. The last part was to attach the stairs. The temple was made of tiny kiln-fired bricks, but the stairs were made of plastic. My son did not like the look of the stairs against the temple, and said it made it look like a toy rather than an ancient temple. So, we left them off.
The slideshow shows the temple in various stages of construction. The last two pictures of the temple show it with and without the plastic stairs. Tell me what you think.
Our next project will be constructing a minature Roman Colosseum when we study Ancient Rome in the spring.
Of course, I am sure I will find something else to write about until then. I just know I have other things going on in my life other than homeschooling. Right now that is about the only thing that consumes me.