Friday, September 28, 2007

Crack the Code Contest

This week, we read about the first writing of the Sumerians and the Egyptians. The children each read a book about the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone. For a fun Friday activity, Evan, Matthew and Sophie colored some paper to resemble papyrus, and using a very simplified hieroglyphics alphabet, they each wrote down a hieroglyphic message to decode. Scroll down, if you like, to look at their writing, and take a crack at decoding their messages! Also included below is a copy of the alphabet that they used. I will send a prize (see below) to the first person to contact me (see sidebar for contact info.) with all of the messages translated into complete English sentences. Please do not post the answers as a comment! Have fun!

Click on the pictures to view larger.




Clue: Hieroglyphics do not have spaces between the words or punctuation. Since there is no letter "C" in hieroglyphics, a "K" is used instead. The kids chose not to be too tricky and wrote from left to right, though hieroglyphics can even be written right to left or in vertical columns!

The Prize:
The winner may pick from one of the following books!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Ancient Egyptian Geography Show and Tell

Last week we made a salt dough map of Ancient Egypt. Being a perfectionist, I wanted the shape of the land and water areas to be as accurate as possible. In order to accomplish this, we used an Artograph Tracer Projector which I purchased prior to having children. In order to have the map fit inside the tracing field of the projector, I first had to shrink a blackline map of Ancient Egypt by 50% on my copier/printer. I then used the projector to enlarge the image to the needed size on a piece of plywood that we had lying around in order to trace it. (Sometimes James' pack rat tendencies come in handy! ;-) We also projected the image onto some newsprint to trace the shape of the Nile to use as a pattern.

Matthew and Sophie willingly plunged their hands into the sticky ingredients to knead the salt dough but were soon making faces when the too wet dough stubbornly clung to their fingers. We had to add more flour to make the dough manageable.

Evan, Matthew and Sophie all worked at smoothing the dough out and molding it to fit inside the outline. They didn't complain too much about working together in close quarters! :)

Evan transferred the river outline to the salt dough by poking through the newsprint pattern with a bamboo skewer.

Evan and Matthew used a Dymo label maker to print out tiny labels which they affixed to toothpicks broken in half. They added ten extra spaces to each label to have enough paper to fold around the pick to make a flag. They were heartily tired of the process by the time they finished!!

Sophie and Matthew painted the map with acrylics. James looked up the great pyramids on Google maps. He zoomed in and out on Egypt to get an aerial view of the land for painting inspiration. Amazing! We all enjoyed the bird's eye view of pyramids and mastabas.

Here is the finished project:


While making the map, I asked the kids to point out the geographical features which protected and isolated Egypt from other ancient cultures. I told them that partly because of Ancient Egypt's unique geography, its culture lasted for thousands of years. We talked about how difficult it would have been to invade Egypt due to the marshy Delta, the dry deserts, the mountains, and the cataracts of the Nile. We talked about the way the Nile brought life to the land. I told the children that the Egyptians thought that they were blessed by the gods because of these features.

God used the land of Egypt to preserve his people at two different times. In the Old Testament, He sent Joseph ahead to prepare Egypt to save Jacob and his sons and their families from famine. They grew in to a great nation in the delta region of the Nile. In the New Testament God sent another Joseph, along with God's own son into Egypt to protect him from bloodthirsty Herod. But both times, He called His people out of Egypt, the land of literal and figurative slavery. When God commanded Pharaoh through Moses to let His people go, He brought about deliverance with plagues that judged the gods of Egypt and brought glory to Himself. Later God called His own Son out of Egypt to save His people from slavery to sin.

In talking about the geography of Egypt, I also briefly contrasted it with the land of Canaan, the Promised Land. As pointed out in a recent sermon at our church, we noted that famine actually often struck that land. Abraham sought relief in Egypt during a time of famine, though his decision and lack of trust in God at that time proved troublesome to his family. Isaac also considered taking shelter in Egypt during a later famine, though God kept him from going that far.

The Promised Land is the "Crossroads of Civilization", a land coveted by many and surrounded by great and threatening nations at all times, but without the same natural protections as the land of Egypt. I told my children that it seemed to me that God used the geography of the Promised Land to force the lesson of trust ~ trust in His promised protection, even in the midst of threatening circumstances! I hope to return to this theme again in our Bible study and further study of ancient times.

And we all enjoyed seeing this blast from the past:

Evan, age six, and his model of the Nile

The Ear

Two weeks ago, this is what Logan's ear looked like:


Obviously I am referring to his right ear. That is just wrong isn't it?!

I didn't take him to the doctor...this time. You see, this has happened twice Matthew. The first time Matthew's ear swelled up to elephantine proportions--three times its normal size and reddish-purple in color-- I took him to the pediatrician. The doctor took one look at his ear and sent the nurse in with a syringe full of heavy-duty antibiotics. He said, "It is a good thing you brought him in. We wouldn't want the infection to spread to his brain." Comforting thought, that.

The second time Matthew's ear swelled up, probably due to a bug bite, the thought crossed my mind, "Maybe I should try some benadryl." I gave him the proper dose and sure enough, the swelling went down! I was thankful to avoid another whopping dose of antibiotics for Matthew.

Logan's ear actually did not look quite as awful as Matthew's, but I did secretly worry that it would get stretched out permanently. I gave Logan some benadryl as well while hoping that the medication would not wire him. (I gave Evan benadryl as a toddler which made him run around the house crying inconsolably. He hid in a closet rather than let me comfort him ~ not a performance I wanted to repeat.) Logan's ear did not improve as quickly as Matthew's had, but it did gradually get back to normal. Whew!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


I need to blog some of the blur that has been our life while transitioning from summer to school, starting with Labor Day Weekend.

Some visitors to our side told us about a group of cabins inside Rocky Mountain National Park. In checking on the cabins for a possible future family reunion, I found that someone had canceled a reservation for Labor Day Weekend. We jumped on the opportunity to visit the cabins in person.

When we arrived at the cabin, Sophie exclaimed in her fake British accent, "Oh this is so fancy!" We all laughed as we looked around at the plain, uninsulated wooden walls with electric wiring stapled in place. While "fancy" did not aptly describe the rustic structure, it certainly was cozy enough, and it did have running water, electricity and a propane heater. Maybe in a child's eye, it looked like the ultimate playhouse.

We got a later start than we would have liked the first morning, hiking up Deer Mountain. Before we reached the top, a storm gathered overhead while another storm swept across the valley towards us. The rumble of thunder and the lightning flashes chased us down, but the veil of rain shrouding Long's Peak created a breathtaking vista as we trotted down the mountainside. The abbreviated hike did not disappoint the children, because of the enticement of the creek near our cabin.

The next morning, we feverishly packed the van and got an earlier start in the mountains. We revisited our favorite lake hikes and added a new lake to the list. The path to Lake Haiyaha proved to be the steepest hike we have done as a family, but the kids rose to the challenge. We noted that Matthew led the way for the most part, evidence of his increasing strength, maturity and endurance as he approaches his tenth birthday. With some external encouragement, Sophie proved to herself and to us, that she was able to hike with nary a complaint and with actual enjoyment. She alternated holding hands with James and me, cheerfully chatting about ponies and princesses, castles and gardens.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Classic Sophism

Yeah, I've really been into blogging lately...

But, I have to at least blog this:

While putting away groceries Sophie asked, "Did you buy any Cannibal's Tomato Soup?"