Books We Are Using This Year
  • The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    The Story of the World: Ancient Times (Vol. 1)
    by Jeff West,S. Wise Bauer,Jeff (ILT) West, Susan Wise Bauer
  • Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding: A Science Curriculum for K-2
    by Bernard J Nebel PhD
  • Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    Math-U-See Epsilon Student Kit (Complete Kit)
    by Steven P. Demme
  • First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    First Language Lessons for the Well-Trained Mind: Level 4 Instructor Guide (First Language Lessons) By Jessie Wise, Sara Buffington
    by -Author-
  • Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    Drawing With Children: A Creative Method for Adult Beginners, Too
    by Mona Brookes
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Entries in africa (4)


The Phoenicians (SOTW ch. 15)

My favorite chapter so far. Traders, explorers, master builders of ports? Absolutely! Bring it on. We read the bit in SOTW, and then, as usual, we looked for supplemental videos and more detailed sources. Unfortunately we found very little in the way of either, but the following we found pretty useful.

Explorers of the Ancient World, by Anthony Brierley. A fun two page spreads of maps and other illustrations depicting the worlds and adventures of a variety of explorers from a variety of eras, including the Phoenicians and Hanno the Navigator. The written history is short, but well presented. We enjoyed this book very much.


Engineering An Empire is a History Channel series that takes a scientific look at the engineering feats of several different ancient empires. We had already seen Egypt: Engineering an Empire (volume 6), several times in fact, and loved it, so when we found out that there was entire series with an episode dedicated to Carthage, we were pretty excited. The episode on Carthage is shorter, and doesn't quite have the wow factor of the Egypt volume, but it was still very enjoyable. We'd recommend it.

Carthage and the Phoenicians is just a short, shallow look at this ancient civilization, but for those who won't sit still as long it's a great option.



Story of the World, ch. 11: Ancient Africa

I was disappointed by the lack of resources available for this chapter. Even the books recommended in SOW itself were limited in their information. We ended up with a number of oral tradition story books, and one Schelssinger video.

African Beginnings. James Haskins and Kathleen Benson (1998). Beautiful, full page illustrations coupled with good historical information makes this volume great additional reading for any study of ancient Africa.

Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti. Gerald McDermott (1982). Fun, bright illustrations created from paper complement the traditional trickster tale of mischevious Anansi. McDermott's trickster tale books make really fun reading. We also read his Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster from West Africa( 1996).

The Pot of Wisdom: Ananse Stories. Adwoa Badoe (2001). A nice collection of Anansi trickster tales.

The Talking Vegetables. Won-Ldy Paye and Margaret Lippert (2006). One of Calvin's favorite Anansi stories.

Anansi and the Talking Melon. Eric Kimmel (1994). Kimmel's versions of the Anansi tales, illustrated by Janet Stevens, are highly enjoyable. We read this one, and his version of Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock (1988) and I think they were Calvin's favorites. These are also available read aloud on video, old-fashioned like, with the book illustrations showing, no animation. Great for younger kids.

We also watched the Schlessinger Ancient Africa video from their Ancient Civilizations series. It was fine, but not stellar.


Africa‚Äďan exploration

February 25-March 21
After attending a stage performance of African folk tales and legends Calvin was curious about their origin, so we started on an exploraton of the continent that lasted for over three weeks (fit in around hiking, piano, pretending to be in the Land of Oz, etc., etc., etc,). This is a run down of what we did, what we talked about, and what materials we used.

Topics of focus:
Continents, countries, states, cities
South Africa, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Egypt
Mt. Kenya, Victoria Falls, The Nile
Animals and biomes of Africa
Vocabulary—biome, rainforest, desert, savanna, continent, waterfall, pyramid
Ancient Egypt

Book list:
Africa, by Mel Friedman
Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain, by Verna Aardema
Dedan Saves the Day, by Teha Feldman
Deserts, by Angela Wilkes
Egyptian Pyramids, by Kate Riggs
Egyptology: Search for the Tomb of Osiris, by Emily Sands
Honey... Honey... Lion!, by Jan Brett
I am the Mummy Heb-Nefert, by Eve Bunting
Mumies & Pyramids (Usborne), by Sam Taplin

Pinduli, by Janell Cannon
Pyramids, by Fiona Macdonald
Tembo Takes Charge, by Thea Feldman
Wangari's Trees of Peace, Jeanette Winter

Video list:
Anansi tales
Planet Earth, Jungles and Grasslands
YouTube videos of Victoria Falls, hiking Mt. Kenya, African animals, and exploring the Pyramids

Activity list:
Attending a stage performance of traditional African folk tales (the impetus for our exploration)
Playing Mancala
Playing The Great Mammoth Hunt
Building Pyramids out of Legos (and playing with them)
Listening to traditional African music (thank you Pandora)
Making a traditional Kenyan meal: Mtuzi wa Samaki
Dressing up as elephants

Arts/Crafts list:
Coloring the flags of the countries we "visited"
Drawing the African biomes
Drawing African animals

Making cut paper images of Anansi stories

Painting a landscape of the Savanna
Making a Book of the Dead scroll


Africa exploration art

We spent a lot of time exploring Africa this week. Between atlases, dedicated books, BBC and National Geographic videos, and the help of YouTube, we've been to a number of places. Calvin was the instigator of this foray, and his interests led us from Victoria Falls (between Zambia and Zimbabwe, he'll tell you) through the savanna on up to Mt. Kenya and the Great Rift Valley. We learned a lot about the animals and a bit about the land. It never fails to amaze me how much information a little guy can swallow up while still being hungry for more.

It is Saturday, meaning it's Artist day at Ordinary Life Magic, and because we explored Africa with our pencils, crayons and paint at hand, Calvin has a lot to share this week.

We started with the biomes, and exploration pictures of each one.

Then it was elephants. That's who he wanted to see a lot of on his trip through Africa, so he drew an awful lot of them.

Then giraffes, and lions, too.

We listened to music and enjoyed colors and clothing and ornaments traditional to a number of south and east African populations, and we really enjoyed reading a number of different African folk tales, or Anansi stories. This is really where our week began, since it was our trip to a play of African folk tales last Friday that launched our recent safari. An Anansi book we got from the library had torn and cut paper art illustrations, so we tried that, too.

I think this was my favorite art "moment" from the week, though. Early on Calvin requested a return of the paints and the week long painting project. I am very glad that our first experiment with that went well enough to elicit a requested return. He spent the week working out a landscape painting of the savanna. With an elephant, of course.

There are still many more projects up our sleeves, and because we're having such a great time with Africa I think we'll decide to skip the flight home and spend another few days, maybe a week...maybe more. I'd like to make African masks, and Calvin want to learn more about Egypt. Maybe we'll make pyramids. With rain, sleet, and snow outside right now, the the rainforest is also pretty appealing.

More posts on our African "travels" can be found in the journal.