Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.
The Middle East Region: Ancient & Modern
We took a geographical look at the region of the Middle East by identifying current countries on the map. We also discussed the significance of ancient Mesopotamia (region of present-day Iraq, Kuwait and northeastern Syria), and talked about ancient Sumerians and Babylonians. We spent some time talking about the desert, what an oasis is, the difference between one-hump and two-hump camels, caravans and sandstorms. We also read Season of the Sandstorms (from the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne) which offered a great story about ancient Baghdad and how it was an important city for merchants, culture and academia during ancient times.
I introduced themes common to the region’s storytelling by reading a juvenile version of Arabian Nights tale, which included terms such as genie, magic carpet, open sesame and Ali Baba. Other terms associated with One Thousand and One Nights include Aladdin and Sinbad the sailor.
The Dead Sea
We began by discussing where the Dead Sea is located and how it is the saltiest sea in the world. We transitioned to discuss salt as an important mineral and the difference between common or table salt (mined from land) and sea salt (natural salt from the sea). Having discussed papyrus in ancient Egypt lessons, I expanded the theme to discuss ancient scrolls. We talked about the significance of The Dead Sea Scrolls discovery and focused on the terms: ancient text, wisdom, knowledge and preservation. We then created our own ancient scroll as one of the projects for our Middle East cultural studies.
For the project, I soaked a sheet of watercolor paper in brewed coffee (I used leftover from that morning’s brew) and let it dry overnight. I then asked my son to come up with some things he felt were important thoughts to write down and have preserved for future generations. Once he wrote a few things down, I used a hole punch to create a hole where a piece of ribbon could be placed. We then rolled the scroll and tied it with the ribbon to hold it closed. My son really enjoyed this project.
The Three Magi/Wise Men/Kings
A related topic is that of the three magi/wise men/kings linked to the biblical nativity story. You can introduce or expand this theme as part of the region’s cultural studies. (see related post: We Three Kings: Art with Lines)
Discuss the saying, “The straw that broke the camel’s back” and its meaning.