Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Story of the World: Ancient Times: Chapter 9

Last week we finished reviewing all the chapters of Story of the World Vol. 1 that we did two years ago. This week we started on new material; sort of. See, when we last did ancient India, we only did about half of the chapter. We did the brick experiment the first time around, which was cool, but not something I wanted to repeat at this time. There wasn't much else in the activity guide, so inspired by the memory of Colonel Brandon whispering in Margret Dashwood's ear, "the air is filled with SPICES!" I did some quick Googling and then went off schedule.

But before we did that we quickly verbally reviewed what we had read the week before about the Indus River Valley. Wanting to raise geographically literate people, I quickly printed out a few black line maps; one unlabeled political map of the world, one geographical picture of Asia, and one simple political map of the India area. Much to our surprise we discovered that the Indus River area that we had been learning about is not in modern India, but rather Pakistan!

After that discovery we did the map work that comes with the activity guide. Along with coloring the valley and finding the city of Mohenjo-Daro, I added having them trace in orange the sea route from the Indus River mouth to the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers.

Then the boys colored the picture of the tiger mask (The teal in the picture is bleed through from the mask colored in marker on the other side of the map) while we talked about the area and what life was like. We read in the history encyclopedia that the farmers of the area were the very first to farm cotton and to turn it into fabric. That lead to a discussion (based on questions from the boys) on ancient cloth production and dying techniques. Two years ago as part of answering questions posed by Builder Boy we did some research on modern cotton farming and cloth production using machines. The boys remembered that and wanted to know what it was like without the machines to help. This led to YouTube looking for how natural plants are made into dyes and how cloth is dyed. It also brought up the fact that back when clothes took so long and so much work to make, regular people had very few or only one set of clothing, while today we have many. To answer Early Bird's question of how long it takes to weave cloth I made plans to have them try weaving for the next part of the lesson.

But once we were done with answering questions about cloth production, I pulled out all of the spices in my pantry and the condiments in my fridge that I could find that had an ingredient from this list and this list. I had a curry mix, cumin, black pepper, cinnamon, onion, mustard (with both mustard seed and turmeric,) and hot sauce (I ran out out ginger and nutmeg and haven't replaced them yet.) Builder Boy loves spicy things, and found that his life would have been much more bland without these spices. Early Bird would have been perfectly content to be without them, though he does enjoy cinnamon. I let them smell or taste the spices as they wished, and they enjoyed exploring with them for a time. That all took up about an hour, so we stopped there. But later that day for dinner I cooked chicken curry.

Now, until recently, I had never had a curry I liked. Every one I tried, either made by someone else or in a restaurant, was burn my mouth off too spicy, even if it was labeled "mild." Also, there was just something in it I did not like. Then one day Principal Daddy came home from Costco with a Mild Curry blend and asked me to try cooking with it. I had no experience with making curry, and had no coconut milk or anything else that seemed to be necessary to make a traditional curry. Which is how I ended up inventing The Unauthentic Curry Recipe for People Who Don't Like Curry that actually is pretty good.

3 chicken breasts (or equivalent amount of chicken)
4 cups chicken broth or stock
3T *MILD* curry powder
1/2 c milk
1 stick of butter
1/2 c flour
Garlic salt
Green onions to garnish

Cook the chicken in the broth with some garlic salt (or salt to taste) and 1 T of the curry powder until cooked. Take out chicken and shred. Add milk and remaining curry powder to broth. Melt butter, add flour and mix together. Add to broth to make gravy, whisking in and heating until thickened. Return the shredded chicken to the gravy. Add green onion, if desired. Serve on rice.

Sorry for the not great picture; I was tired and forgot until after dinner.
Since making this recipe I have changed different things about it. Sometimes I add more curry than I first did, sometimes I use only 3T and 2T of flour (the first way made it richer, smoother, and easier to get used to the curry.) I really love it with chopped green onion and cilantro. Also, I now make it with whole or sliced garlic cloves in the chicken-curry broth.  

The picture was chicken, curry, chopped onion, garlic, cilantro, and eggplant.

For the week's second day of lessons, I set up mini looms so the boys could try their hand at weaving to answer Early Bird's question of just how long it takes to weave. (Answer: much longer than most little boys have the patience for.) While I set it up not expecting them to finish, they did at least get a good idea of the amount of work involved. And they both expressed their gratefulness for machines.

Since we're packing up to move, "spare cardboard" for a loom wasn't an option. So I used old dvd cases that I keep meaning to toss. I wrapped it around one side of the case and then shut it tight; no slipping! It also kept the tension where we needed it to be. (The yarn ends did need to be taped on the inside.)

I used a folded piece of construction paper with a slit cut at each end for holding the optimistically long yarn.

Builder Boy's and Early Bird's results.


Since they lasted less time than I was happy with on the looms (I remember LOVING doing this as a kid) I had them draw a picture of something they had learned this week about ancient India. I then wrote down things for them. Builder Boy focused on the dyeing of cloth. I was impressed with the amount of detail he remembered from the YouTube videos we watched. Early Bird wrote about cinnamon, the only spice he really liked from our smelling tour. His report started straying into creative writing territory (he started talking about a cinnamon demon?!)

Over all I am very pleased with what we accomplished this week in history.

This blog post contains affiliated links. The Story of the World link in the post goes to an affiliated link at the author's printing company website. The picture here is the (affiliated) link to find it on for your convenience. I am not paid to review, all opinions are my own.

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