Recently in our history studies, the monkeys and I have been learning about ancient China. Like I told Ty, I honestly don’t remember ever studying Chinese history in 18 years of formal schooling, so all of the information we read about China this week was new to me too. Surprisingly, my kids were very interested in these lessons. There certainly was a lot of new information for us to take in. We discussed everything from silk trade routes to human sacrifice. Yikes!
Of particular interest to the monkeys was our lesson on the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Juang Ti, and his massive army of terracotta warriors – once again, a topic I’ve never before studied.
Ty had a terrific idea for an activity to go along with this lesson. He suggested that he and Lucy try making their own versions of clay warriors using Play-Doh. Great idea, Ty! So while I read the material to them, the monkeys sculpted away.
Lucy found the task of warrior making to be quite difficult and soon gave up in favor of sculpting easier subjects. Ty, on the other hand, embraced the challenge and took a lot of pride in recreating his figures. To help him get a better understanding of how the real clay warriors were constructed, I found an informative PBS video online that addressed the difficulties involved in making the nearly 8,000, life-sized terracotta soldiers.
Although Ty’s version was on a much smaller scale than the originals, he worked diligently to construct his figure using techniques similar to those of the ancient artisans. Ty really is a creative soul. He kept telling me over and over how much he enjoyed making things with his hands.
In addition to the sculpting activity, I found another art project that was better suited to Lucy’s skills – print making.
First the monkeys traced a line drawing of a warrior onto craft foam, making an impression in the foam.
Then they applied a thin layer of acrylic paint to the foam and pressed the foam onto a sheet of construction paper.
Voila! A beautiful warrior print.
I love the way Lucy layered her prints using different colors. It made her warriors look like they were standing in rows.
What a fun a week of history! We’re almost through our entire textbook now. Only 12 more lessons to go! This week I ordered Volume 2 of the Mystery of History for us to begin next school year. The monkeys have enjoyed Volume 1 so much. Sure, they are not going to remember every detail we’ve covered, but they certainly have been exposed to a plethora of ancient information. Hopefully it will serve as a good foundation for learning to come.