Week Five – The First Sumerian Dictator

This week focused primarily on Sumer and the rise of Sargon who attempted to conquer the various city-states within Mesopotamia.

Story of the World:

Listened to The First Sumerian Dictator and completed the review questions and narration exercise. M1 and M2 completed the Sargon drawing page and M1 did the Sumer word jumble.

Read Together:

Unlike Ancient Egypt, Sumer doesn’t have a lot going for it with regard to children’s literature. So, we relied on SotW to provide some recommendations. Within their lesson plan were:

The Golden Sandal (A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story), by Rebecca Hickock. Both M1 and M2 enjoyed reading this book and instantly picked up the themes from the Cinderella story. This story is actually based on the Iraqi folktale of The Little Red Fish and the Golden Clog, but doesn’t necessarily take place during the time of Ancient Sumer. The illustrations are great and the morals are a bit stronger than the Disneyfied version.

The Three Princes: A Tale From the Middle East, by Eric Kimmel. I read this to M1 and I saw her pick it up a few more times on her own to read. She indicated that she really liked the bold colors in the story, especially those of the garments worn by the Three Princes. The story is actually based on a folktale from Africa called The Search, which leaves the reader with an open-ended conclusion to the story. Three Princes on the other hand has a firm conclusion, highlighting the selflessness of one of the Princes.

The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, pages 110 to 113 focus on the development of Mesopotamia from the development of cities to the flourishing of maritime trade and the rise of Sargon.

Watch Together:

We watched Crash Course in History’s Mesopotamia episode on Youtube on three occasions. Because Sumer was one of the first locations to develop pottery and the potter’s wheel, we watched several videos on making clay pots. Most focus on making pottery using electric potters wheels, so we really enjoyed this one, which was human driven.

Listen Together:

Although probably geared towards older students, I recently came upon a podcast focused on Maritime History. The first three episodes provide a great overview of the history of maritime trade, which flourished in Mesopotamia. Trade in Sumer was extremely important as the region contained little in natural resources to include metal or strong wood, but was rich in grain, wool, finished metal objects and pots. Boating through Mesopotamia’s canals and rivers brought about the first world trade. The Maritime History Podcast episodes I would recommend are:

Additionally, I would recommend listening to the BBC’s History of the World in 100 Objects podcast on The Standard of Ur.




Week 3 Review – Egyptians Lived on the Nile River

This week focused primarily on the early kingdom of ancient Egypt and the joining of the Upper and Lower kingdoms. Attention was also paid to the role of gods and goddesses in the early dynastic period.

Story of the World:

Listened to the audiobook version for Story of the World for Chapter 2, which included tracks Two Kingdoms Become One and Gods of Ancient Egypt.


We actually held off on projects this week because we were busy starting two co-ops and had a number of other appointments. Plus, we really wanted to focus on upcoming projects dealing with writing and mummification. Both M1 and M2 did drawings from SotW’s activity book on Set and Isis and completed the map activity highlighting the joining of the Upper and Lower Egypt by Menes. Projects recommend by SotW included building a shepherd’s crook, the combined crown of the Upper and Lower kingdoms, and making a miniature model showing flooding of the River Nile.

Read Aloud:

Croco’nile by Roy Gerrard. Great children’s book that focuses on two children who hitch a ride aboard a boat cruising up the Nile River in Ancient Egypt. Both children become artists and are kidnapped for their skills. They are later saved by their pet crocodile and return to their house. The illustrations are great and the book highlights the importance of the annual flood of the Nile.

Watch Together:

Watched, Ancient Egypt: Crash Course in World History #4. This is more of an overview of all of Ancient Egypt, so you can return and watch over and over again.

Horrible Histories:

Pharaoh Report


Listen Together:

Played the audio book Magic Treehouse, Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne. Children can take quiz for reading comprehension at http://www.magictreehouse.com after signing up for an account.

Week 2 Review – The Earliest People

Story of the World:

Listened to the audiobook version for Story of the World, The First Nomads & the First Nomads Become Famers on two separate occasions. Completed review questions and narration exercise.


Cave Painting: We actually did cave painting a few years ago, but it was a project that both girls really loved. SotW has you use black, ochre and yellow paint, so we upped the ante. We used raspberries (red), blueberries (purple), ground mustard (yellow), and charcoal (black) combined with a little water and some vegetable oil for an emulsion. There are a number of sites where you can get more exact measurements, but we just free-poured until we got the right consistency.

Map & Color Page: Both M1 and M2, shaded in geographic features of the Fertile Crescent and colored the provided SotW coloring page featuring a farmer using a shaduf.

Read Aloud: 

The First Dog, by Jan Brett (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 1988). My seven and four year old loved reading this book! First off the illustrations are great, incorporating images of some of the first tools and works of art created by early humans ring the periphery of every page. The story is also very approachable for young children, but parents can tie in questions related to the domestication of animals, what nomads may have worn in the Ice Age, and what tools they carried with them.

Little Grunt and the Big Egg, by Tommy dePaola (G.P. Putnam, 2006). I checked out this book based on the recommendation of SotW and because my kids loved Strega Nona and The Clown of God. Even though it is listed as a fairy tale that concept might be lost on younger children. The most problematic aspect is the presentation of early man and dinosaurs living together.

The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, by Jane Bingham, Fiona Chandler and Sam Taplin (Usborne, 2009). We own this book and our girls love looking through the pictures and reading the excerpts. Pages 80 to 101 focus on the periods from 5 million to 10,000 BC years ago, to cover the SotW’s First Nomads. Pages 108 to 113 cover SotW’s The First Nomads Become Farmers.

Watch Together:

Flint Knapping

Atlatl Throwing

The Agricultural Revolution: Crash Course World History #1 (little advanced in terms of concepts and sometimes content, recommend parents watch in advance)

Mesopotamia: Crash Course World History #3 (jumps some of the subjects that are later taught in SotW).

Horrible Histories –

City of Jericho 3D Tour

Listen Together:

Probably one of the best podcasts on history is the BBC’s History of the World in 100 Objects. Although more geared towards older students, you can play them in the morning at breakfast or while your homeschooler is doing other activities. The objects linked to early humans are the most extensive set, so playing one per day over a week is a good idea. You can find the podcast on ITunes or listen directly from the web page below:

Olduvai Stone Chopping Tool

Olduvai Hand Axe

Swimming Reindeer

Clovis Spearpoint

Bird-Shaped Pestle

Ain Sakhri Lovers (statuette)