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.


Seacoast Science Center & Odiorne Point State Park

The beach, whether rocky or sandy, has always been a big draw for us as a family. Both my wife and I grew up in close proximity to beaches in Maine and Florida. The beach was almost a weekly occurrence when we lived in Hawaii and a frequent destination for sea glass and fish n’ chips in England. Because of this, our girls have developed a keen interest in the ocean and the things living in it. While vacationing this summer in Maine, my daughters were eager to explore the rocky coastline of New England. One of the best places to do so is Rye, New Hampshire’s Seacoast Science Center located in Odiorne Point State Park.

Almost the entire Science Center is hands on and very approachable to young learners. Visitors are immediately greeted by the skeleton of a humpback whale and the center’s exhibit on whales and seals that are native to the Gulf of Maine. From there, children can explore a number tanks housing fish and other invertebrates (to include a blue lobster!). Touch tanks provide supervised opportunities to handle starfish, hermit crabs and sea urchins. Other elements of the Center allow children to pilot an ROV, learn the history of fishing in the area and the importance of maintaining the ecology of the Gulf. Docents at the Center also lead several tours or visitor programs throughout the day, so check their website before you go!

If you do decide to spend the entire day at the Park, you can divide the rest of your day up by exploring the various casemates of Fort Dearborn or listening to the squelch of seaweed among the tide pools. Additional park facilities include picnic grounds, a well maintained bathroom and a playground.

  • Tide Pools: For nature lovers who want to bypass the Seacoast Science Center, you can head straight to the shore to creature spot amongst the tide pools. Although there are pools along the entirety of coast, the best are near the bay housing the sunken forest. Just a warning, but tide pools can be slippery and caution should be exercised.
  • Fort Dearborn: The park is littered with World War II era fortifications built after land was ceded to the U.S. government in 1942. The two most significant sites are Battery Seaman, which featured two sixteen-inch guns and Battery 204, which featured two six-inch M1 guns. A fire control station in barbette is found between the two six-inch gun mounts. A line of four 155mm gun mount overlook the drowned forest off Odiorne Point.
  • Nature Trails: Several well maintained footpaths are located throughout the park that will take hikers through salt and freshwater ponds, the rocky shore and forests.

Know Before You Go: Hours (see below) vary throughout the year. During the late fall, winter and early spring months, the park is open, but unstaffed. Please use caution when talking around the tide pools as the seaweed is very slippery.

Location: The Seacoast Science Center is located inside Odiorne Point State Park, 570 Ocean Blvd. in Rye, NH.  

Hours: Odiorne Point State Park is open for the summer season from 28 May to 5 September daily (subject to change) between 8AM and 6PM. Between 7 and 22 May, then 9 September and 10 October the park is open on the weekends. The remainder of the year, the park is open, but unstaffed. The Seacoast Science Center is open daily from 10AM to 5PM from mid-February to October. Winter house are Saturday to Monday (November to mid-February) from 10AM to 5PM and by appointment every other day.

Admission: This is the kicker, to get to the Seacoast Science Center, visitors must first pay admission at the Odiorne Point State Park gatehouse. To get in the park, admission is $4 per adult and $2 per child between ages 6 and 11. Admission to the Science Center is then $10 for adults and $5 for children between 3 and 12. Seniors and active duty military are $8.


Odiorne Point State Park

Seacoast Science Center

Downs Park & Crab Cakes

As I noted before, we love Five in a Row (FiaR), but we decided to stretch our curriculum over two weeks instead of the traditional one. This meant that we had an extra week to finish our unit on Jane Yolen’s All the Secrets of the World, by visiting Downs Park and having M1 make crab cakes for dinner. Downs Park affords great views of Chesapeake Bay, to include the shipping lanes featured in All the Secrets of the World. We even got to play with perspective, just like Janie. Any lesson on the Chesapeake though would not be complete without making crab cakes.

For the crab cakes, we used FiaR’s own Cook Book, which we altered a bit to include smoked paprika and a touch of garlic. Aside for the sticker shock of paying for a pound of lump crab meat, they turned out pretty good.

Downs Park sits on Chesapeake Bay between Bodkin Creek and the Magothy River. Given the park’s strategic location, it was considered a potential location for fortifications to guard the entrance to Baltimore. Instead, a series of families occupied Bodkin Neck, to include the Thoms, who purchased the land in 1913. The park was later transferred to Anne Arundel County.

The park has five miles of walking trails, a fishing pier, and playground. There are two beaches at Down’s Park, but swimming or wading is not allowed. The real highlights of the park are the Victorian-styled Mother’s Garden and the park’s visitor’s center. The Mother’s Garden was originally built by the Thom family who owned a farm on Bodkin Neck. The Friends of Down Park have recreated the garden and returned it to its original glory. The visitor center is also a fun place to beat the summer heat, with interpretive displays of flora and fauna found in the Chesapeake and the forests of the park. There are also hands-on displays of animal skulls, a small children’s play area and a fun animal matching board.

Know Before You Go: The park is well maintained and many of the trails are paved. Their are two boat launch points, one of which is designated for canoes and kayaks. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited.

Location: The park is located at 8311 John Downs Loop, Pasadena, MD 21122

Hours: Downs Park is open from 7:00am to dusk. Park is closed on Tuesdays. Check the websites below for special events, including the Summer Concert Series.

Admission: Entrance to the park is $6 per vehicle. Residents of Anne Arundel County can pay $30 for a year pass, non residents will pay $40 for an annual pass. The annual pass is also good at Ft. Smallwood, Kinder Farm and Quiet Waters parks.


Downs Park – Anne Arundel County

Friends of Downs Park

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) 






Fort McClary, Kittery, Maine


When it comes to the Atlantic and Gulf coasts of the United States are littered with coquina, stone, brick and dirt fortifications. For many, Fort McHenry, Fort Sumter and Castillo de San Marcos have become major tourist destinations, while other languished and deteriorated. For the most part a fortification stands in direct relationship to the era that it was built and can inadequately tell the history of the U.S. seacoast defenses. Maine’s Fort McClary, despite its size is equal to the task, providing a rich history of coastal fortifications from the early Republic to the end of World War II. 

Fort McClary was built on Kittery Point at the mouth of the Piscataqua River to protect the northern approach to Portsmouth, New Hampshire and the nearby U.S. naval shipyard. Prior to the fort’s construction costal defenses were present at the site since the late 17th century. William Peppered, a local shipbuilder, oversaw the construction of a crude dirt and log fortification in 1689. A permanent battery of six guns was constructed in 1715 and given the name Fort William. Following the American Revolution, the site was transferred to the United States government in 1808 and the newly constructed fortification as named Fort McClary. Throughout the early 19th century, a number of structures were constructed at the site to include a blockhouse, rifleman’s houses, barracks and a magazine. Since its construction, the fort was manned during the War of 1812, American Civil War, Spanish-American War, and World Wars I and II.


Fort McClary may not have the grandeur of its southern cousins built during the same era like Fort Washington (Washington, DC) or carry the same gravitas as Fort McHenry (Baltimore) or Fort Sumter (Charleston), but it does punch above its weight in other aspects. The importance of the U.S. naval shipyard at Portsmouth has ensured the almost constant presence of fortifications at the site. In the site’s current state, Fort McClary presents elements from the Second and Third systems, the Endicott Board, and the World War I and II eras. This allows the visitor to view changes in military architecture and technology to counter improvements in naval technology and offensive fire power.


Kids will love exploring the caponiers at either end of the fort, playing on the granite slabs of the incomplete outer wall and climbing the circular stairs of the blockhouse. When open for the season, the blockhouse (built in 1844) features interpretive displays that provide a history of William Pepperell, an overview of the site throughout history, and the use of naval artillery. If a ranger is on hand, be sure to ask if you can handle one of the fort’s 12 lbs cannon balls. Fort McClary also participates in the Maine State Park’s passport program. 

Know Before You Go: Most of the lower site is accessible via level paths, but the path to the blockhouse can be steep or requires climbing stairs. To order a Maine State Park passport, visit their website

Location: The Fort is located off of Pepperrell Road in Kitty, Maine. Parking is provided but limited near the Fort. Overflow parking is available across the street, but care should be taken when crossing with children. .

Hours: Facilities are open from Memorial Day to Columbus Day, from 10AM to sunset (unless otherwise posted). The site (but not the blockhouse) is open the remainder of the year, but is not staffed by a park official.

Admission: There is an honesty box at the entrance to the fort. The cost for adult entrance is $3/$4 (resident/non-resident) and $1 for children between the ages of 5 and 12.


Maine State Park’s Fort McClary Site 

Wikipedia Entry on U.S. Seacoast Fortifications

S.S. John W. Brown Liberty Ship


Project Liberty Ship [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons

One of our favorite homeschool curriculums is Five in a Row, which seeks to develop a love for literature in children through in-depth study of an illustrated child’s book. Since we recently moved back to the mid-Atlantic, near Chesapeake Bay, we felt that Jane Yolen’s All the Secrets of the World was the perfect choice to start the school year. The story follows Janie, who moves to her grandparent’s house on Chesapeake Bay, after her father’s departure to fight in World War II. The story deals with a number of topics to include family, perspective in relation to distance and time, and the home front during the war. While playing with her cousin one afternoon, Janie spots a convoy of Liberty Ships leaving the Chesapeake, similar to the one her father departed for Europe on. The ships and the perspective of distance

Liberty ships were an important part of the Allied war effort. Built quickly and on the cheap, their role was to overwhelm the shipping channels between America and Europe with a steady supply of cargo and troops. These ships were crewed by Merchant Mariners, with a compliment of U.S. Navy Armed Guards to man each ship’s defensive weapons. During the war, over 200 ships were lost due to enemy action, fire or collision. The S.S. John W. Brown was one of these Liberty Ships.

Built in Baltimore, Maryland and completed in the summer of 1942. During World War II, the John W. Brown completed a total of 13 voyages, to include the the transport of soldiers to the European Theater of the war. During World War II, she supported the invasion of Italy on several voyages, carrying cargo and men across the Atlantic. Following the war, the John W. Brown was converted into a floating school in New York City. In the late 1980s, the ship was acquired by Project Liberty Ship. The John W. Brown has since undergone a process of restoration and acts as a living monument to the Merchant Marine and the sailors and soldiers who sailed on the ship.

The Blue Line Tour is the primary visitor circuit through the ship and hits nearly all of the high points. A brochure outlining the tour is available, allowing visitors to see the ship at their own speed. If arrangements are made in advance or if a crew member is available, guided tours are available. As this is a working ship and renovations are constantly being undertaken, there are plenty of crew members to ask questions along the way. The tour hits all of the primary points of interest on the ship, to include the fore and aft gun mounts, flying bridge, wheelhouse, crew and officers quarters and the galley. The tween deck has a number of collections outlining the history of the John W. Brown, Liberty Ships, the Merchant Marine and the U.S. Navy Armed Guards during the war. Of interest to those visiting the ship in connection to All the Secrets of the World, is a section of bunks and interpretive displays outlining life as a soldier traveling to the European Theater. Just like Janie’s father did.

In addition to Five in a Row, the ship can be used to study topics like the Merchant Marine, World War II (especially the home front), and sailing. Display areas in ship also feature topics like semaphore, knots and nautical terminology. In addition to the printout for the Blue Line Tour, young visitors can receive a Young Mariner Activity Guide.

Know Before You Go: The S.S. John W. Brown is a working ship requiring constant upkeep. Elevators are not available and passageways/stairs in the ship can be cramped an steep. Visitors should take care and watch their step when on the deck.

Location: When in port, the ship is located at 2020 South Clinton Street, in Baltimore Maryland. To park, turn onto the John W. Brown’s pier and proceed about 300 feet. The pier’s shed offers free parking.

Hours: Visits to the ship, when in port, can be made on Wednesday and Saturday between 9AM and 2PM. Check the ship’s website or call 410 558-0646.

Admission: Admission is free, but donations are highly recommended. There is also a ship’s store where memorabilia can be purchased.