Monday, September 17, 2012

Summer School

     I alluded to this post a while back and am finally putting it up!  A couple of weeks ago our family went to see the King Tut exhibit in Seattle.  It's the last stop on the tour before the artifacts go back to Egypt.  I really wanted the boys to learn a little about Egypt and pyramids and mummies and all that since most of what they knew before came from Phineas and Ferb.   I wanted them to understand some of what they might see before we went in hopes of them remembering it for a while before that part of their brains get sucked up by Angry Bird scores.  

     I checked out books from the library, found some general themes and read pieces of them at a time to the boys.  We did studies on beards, pyramids, religious beliefs, animal mummies, hieroglyphics... Anything I thought the boys might find interesting.  Turns out that no matter how much you learn ahead of time, looking at a hundred old statues in the dark just isn't that interesting to a 4 year old...

A statue of King Tut.
(This one is blurry because my youngest was ramming me like a rhinoceros...)

Here he is studying a projection of texture on a wall.  Yep.  That's my boy!

The death mask of someone who's name I didn't write down.  I wasn't familiar with it.  And I was getting rammed by a 4 year old rhinoceros.

King Tut's canopic jar.  This one held his stomach.

My eldest was slightly more interested in the exhibit and clearly learned how all good pharaohs are laid to rest.

The boy's favorite piece of antiquity?  The toilet seat.  I didn't get a good picture, but you can see what one looked like here.  Proof that Everyone Everywhere for All Time has Always Pooped.

Here are the books I checked out from the library for our study.  I had originally checked out more, but I didn't use all the books because the boys were a little freaked out by the ones with graphic pictures of mummies (some are babies with their eyes missing and such...).

For Our Study:
Tut's Deadly Tomb by Natalie Lunis (My eldest like this one since it looked so spooky, but was a little disappointed that it debunked all the rumors...)
Tutankhamun by Demi (A very good early introduction to King Tut's life and family history)
The Everything Kid's Mummies, Pharohs, and Pyramids: Puzzle and Activity Book: Discover the Mysterious Secrets of Ancient Egypt by Beth L. Blair (A fantastic little book with mazes and word puzzles, each page also contains a mini history lesson.  I used this book for worksheets for the boys.)
Mummies and Pyramids by Sam Taplin. (This one and the next one are the two I used the most, quick little lessons without too many graphic pictures that were short enough for my boy's attention spans.)
How People Lived in Ancient Egypt by Jane Bingham

Other Resources:

The Crafts and Culture of the Ancient Egyptians by Joann Jovinelly
Ancient Egypt: a First Look at People of the Nile by Bruce Stachan
Cat Mummies by Kelly Trumble

Also, I bought these little aids from Amazon:

Lift the Lid on Mummies. A mummy kit that contains a body, organs, canopic jars, wrapping... all the stuff you need to make your own mummy.  The boy's favorite by far.

Safari Limited Ancient Egypt Toob.  They lost all the pieces to this almost immediately, but there were several times my youngest saw things in the exhibit and said, "Hey!  We have the toy of that!"

Stories from Ancient Egypt. We read a few stories each night before bed.  The stories are quick and engaging and apparently stories that were actually part of the oral tradition in ancient Egypt.

Supplemental just for fun:
Skippy John Jones In Mummy Trouble by Judy Schachner
10 Little Mummies by Philip Yates

I broke it down like this:
Day 1: Overview
Day 2: Beards!
Day 3: Animal mummies
Day 4: Mummy Model
Day 5: Gods
Day 6: Burial and Afterlife
Day 7: Pyramids
Day 8: Food
Day 9: King Tut
Day 10: Hieroglyphics
Day 11: Review
Day 12: Exhibit!

Each little "day" took about 15-20 minutes depending on how long they spent on the worksheets and/or in the bathroom... Some of the early ones were pretty short just to grab their attention and get them into the swing of "school" again.

See there how Day 8 was Food day?  The books I checked out from the library didn't say much about what the average citizen ate.  It seems it was mostly beer, wild game and fish, and barley.  The wealthy had infinitely more options, of course.  I learned at my local farmer's market that Kamut is an ancient Egyptian form of wheat as I was forking over some serious bread for a bag full.  My other resource was a cook book (one of my favorites) called The Good Book Cook Book.  It's got recipes from the Bible or inspired by certain verses as well as a menu section in the back.  One of the menus it has is an Egyptian Banquet.  Visions of sourdough danced in my head.  It didn't work out...  It formed bacteria but not yeast.  Yum.  Also, the kamut breads (pictured) I had planned as a back up flopped.  Well, they didn't "flop" so much as become rock hard and inedible.  I'm sure this is entirely my fault and not the recipe.  I found the recipe at Our Daily Salt, perhaps you will have better luck than I did...


The menu in The Good Book Cookbook is as follows:
Three Bean Soup
Cornish Game Hens with Nuts
Duck in Grape Juice
Fried Fish in Radish Sauce
Whole Baked Garlic
Fig and Grape Salad
Cucumbers Stuffed with Barley and Raisins
Sabbath Bread or Challah
Sourdough Fig Roll

What we had:
Three Bean Soup (Ran out of time)
Fig and Grape Salad (Figs are not in season here yet)
Cornish Game Hens
Cucumbers Stuffed with Barley and Raisins (revised)
Sourdough Fig Roll (Had to throw out the dough)
Kamut Egyptian Flat Bread (Turned into hockey pucks)

Yeah...It got... scaled back a bit...

Cornish Game Hens
2 Cornish Game Hens, thawed
4 medium Scallions
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400°.  Rinse and pat hens dry.  Peel and quarter scallions and place two scallions in each cavity.  Place birds into a heavy cast iron enameled pot.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bake for about an hour until internal temp reaches 165°.

Cucumbers Stuffed with Barley and Raisins
The original recipe calls for this to all be boiled in a large pot for 35 minutes, but it was hot and I was tired and cooked cucumbers sounded gross to me so I served it as a cold dish instead!

6 cucumbers
1 onion, chopped
2 Tbs olive oil
1 C cooked barley
1 C raisins, soaked for 1 hour in water and drained
1 Tbs vinegar
2 Tbs fresh mint or 2 tsp dried
1/4 tsp cinnamon
Salt and Pepper to taste
7 Tbs Garlic Mint Relish (optional)

Halve the cucumbers lengthwise and remove seeds, forming pockets.  Peel cucumbers only if they are waxed.  Set aside.  Saute onion in oil until golden.  Add barley, soaked raisins, vinegar, mint, cinnamon, and salt and pepper to taste.  Stuff cucumber pockets with barley raisin mixture and refrigerate until chilled.

Garlic Mint Relish
3 cloves garlic
4 Tbs fresh mint or 4 tsp dried
1 tsp salt
2 Tbs vinegar

Crush garlic, mint, and salt with a mortar and pestle or in a small bowl with the back of a fork.  Add vinegar.  Sprinkle over stuffed vegetables before serving.

I used white vinegar in the relish.  It was really strong.  I think next time I may try red wine, cider, or maybe even balsamic instead.  Whoof!

The boys loved the game hens.  They did not love the cucumbers.  My youngest took out all the filling and ate the cucumber and my eldest actually wanted it to be hot.  Oh well.  And of course I couldn't keep them out of the dates.  I only had stuffed cucumbers for dinner since nothing else on the menu worked out.  So there you go.  We would have starved as ancient Egyptians...  But for the record, my husband loved all of it!


  1. Sorry your first try at the Egyptian flat bread didn't turn out. Baking bread can certainly take some time to master. The rest of your meal looks wonderful. Thanks for sharing your trip. :)

    1. Thanks, Felisha! Yes, my bread usually turns out pretty well, but this was a new recipe to me and I clearly messed it up somehow! *sigh...*


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