November 1, 2009

Babylonian Wall


Last week we went to our first meeting of the culture club, a fun group of home school kids that give presentations on different countries and cultures once a month. We had never been because I worried the boys would be disruptive, but I was assured by Steffanie, our friend who hosts the event, that there were lots of younger siblings and it was no problem. We didn't know what to expect, so Hannah Jane made a poster presentation on Ancient Egypt and we made some flat bread to dip in honey for sharing with the group.

When we arrived, Hannah Jane went over to see Ky, Steffanie's son. He looked at her and asked, "What are you presenting?" She replied, "Ancient Egypt. You?" Ky said, "I presenting Babylon. Did you know that Egypt is in Babylon?" Hannah Jane looked puzzled. Then he looked at her and asked, "Can you read?" She nodded. "Read this! It's cool." He hands her a short summary of the story Gilgamesh. She looked at it for a second. "G--i--l--...uh..." She sounded it out, but thought she must have gotten it wrong because we didn't recognize the word Gilgamesh. "Ugh! It's Gilgamesh! It's really good!" Hannah Jane is used to being told how smart she is by the people she encounters. Never has she met a boy her age who reads epic adventures and knows Eastern geography. I couldn't tell if she was overwhelmed with admiration or fear at the thought of no longer being the smartest kid in the room. It was so funny.

Anyway, Ky and his mom presented an activity that they did together that was too cool not to share (with her permission, of course). They read about how unbelievably tall the wall in Babylon was and decided that they needed a visual aid. Using ratios and proportions they built a lego tower to demonstrate how tall the wall would appear if you were a lego man. This is such a great idea! They placed the lego man on the floor and brought out a lego tower. We all oohed and aahhed over how tall is was compared to the lego man before Steffanie was able to bring out what looked to be another tower. But it wasn't another tower. It was the top half of the first tower. What?!?!? Could it be so? This image made the idea of the wall at Babylon so much more awe inspiring. How exciting!

Babylon is this week in out Tapestry of Grace studies, but I doubt we'll recreate the activity since we just saw it at Steffanie's house. We may do a version of it when we do the Great Wall of China again and look at it's height and width. There are so many iconic structures in history that this activity could bring to life. The ancient obelisks in Egypt, pyramids, temples, all kind of other walls. The possibilities are endless! And how much more amazing is it to see the scope of these structures when you consider that they had no cranes or machinery?

One final, funny thing about culture club...I was told that people often bring snacks to share from their culture. I decided to go for authentic over tasty, since we were doing an ancient culture and all, and simply made a flour and water flat bread. My thought was that it would drive home the idea of how simple and basic their food was compared to ours today. Yeah. My mistake. I think instead of saying everyone brings a snack, the correct word may have been buffet! There was some seriously elaborate food there including spanikopita, tamales, some white fish dish, and these amazing Greek wedding cookies. There we sat with our sad little, authentically boring and tasteless flat bread. Luckily the boys ate most of it. Steffanie ate what I believe was a mercy piece. One woman said, "I couldn't believe how expensive this was to make with the goat cheese and pine nuts!" All the while I'm thinking I spent about 20 cents in flour and water. Oh well, you live you learn. Next time Hannah Jane is planning to do the Ancient Indus Valley, so I'll hit Tandori Oven and bring something fabulous.

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