I am introducing my girls to World History this year and am learning so much personally! I had to give a lesson on the first civilization Sumer and the information was heavy and detailed for their level. I never fear offering too much however, because I know some is getting absorbed and the subject is sure to be repeated years later. I did want to engage them in a project to help them relate to the subject and hopefully commit some of what we learned to memory. One of the ways Sumer developed as a civilization was through their written language cuneiform. When I surveyed some examples of this writing and noted it’s simple lines and triangle shapes, I knew it was perfect thing to engage my girls with. I decided we would simply mimmic ancient scribes by molding tablets out of clay and pressing these shapes into them. I found the alphabet on the internet and what you see here is my girls attempts to write their names. The left is my second grader’s and the right is my kindergartener’s. Not bad huh?
For geography it’s most important to teach a child their way around maps and globes. My goal for the week was to introduce the concept of latitude and longitude. I brainstormed for a time trying to invent a way to make this otherwise tedious subject more fun. Soon I came up with an idea that combined mason jars, clothes pins, string, and candy to accomplish just that.
I envisioned a giant sized outdoor grid for my girls to interact with. I decided that mason jars filled with water would be my anchoring points and yarn would act as my latitude and longitude lines. Good thing I was abundant in both! Before long I realized that it would be wise to sketch everything out before I wasted time and back strength laying everything out over and again. This was most helpful and made the actual arranging of the mason jars a breeze. Once I had all the jars lined up in their proper places and had filled them 3/4’s of the way full with water, I weaved my string carefully and strategically around to create my latitude and longitude lines.
Of course each line had to be labeled. I chose to hot glue the coordinates to simple wooden clothes pins and clipped them onto the jars. I also had to make clothes pins for my girls to use for the activity. I labeled these with their initials and numbers 1-4 to mark each of the points I would direct them to.
With the grid set up and everything labeled the only step left was to pull out some incentive . . . CANDY! My idea was to give my girls four sets of latitude and longitude coordinates that would mark out a square on the giant grid. They would clip each point with their handy labeled clothespins, and whatever candy lay inside the square was theirs to gobble up in victory. What little girl isn’t motivated by candy?
I will admit that the preparation for this activity was very time consuming. But isn’t the sacrifice worth it to make learning fun and hopefully memorable? To make my efforts go farther we did this activity for two nights in a row, which was just as well because clipping four points for one piece of candy turned out to take time as well. My second grader did beautifully and by the end was able to call out her own latitude and longitude coordinates for the candy she had her eye on. My kindergartener struggled a bit with the high numbers, but understood grasped the concept immediately. With a little numerical help she able to obtain just as much sugar as her sister. I’m happy to say that this activity was a success and I would recommend it to any mom or teacher!