Friday, September 19, 2014

The Sumerians

This year, we have started studying history.  I didn't want to study history with Maggie the way I learned in school, because I didn't learn.  I retained.  And then I forgot.  I wanted something more meaningful for Maggie, that she could enjoy.  I chose this curriculum, The Mystery of History by Linda Lacour Hobar, and it is FANTASTIC!  I love it most of all because it is Christian-based and the foreword to the children explains how history is HIS story!  Love it!  With each lesson, we do hands-on activities, memory cards, and add to an ongoing timeline that we will be working with for years to come.  We are on Week 3 of Volume I (Creation to the Resurrection) and this week, we talked about the Sumerians (Lesson 7). I decided to blog about it because I added a lot to this lesson and wanted to share for those who might also be using this curriculum.  (I will add a "Mystery of History" tab to my blog, as well, for future posts when I have supplemented other lessons in this curriculum.)
After we read from our text (it was so interesting to reflect on how Abraham would have come from this land), we read pages 110-112 out of our The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History book, which covers "First Cities" and "Crafts and Trade," both subtitles about the Sumerian people.
Here is a great picture of a ziggurat from that book.
And here is more information about cuneiform, which we learned about in our text.
To practice cuneiform, I found his great worksheet at, which helped her to see cuneiform up close and practice writing some of her own.
 Maggie's written cuneiform!
Then, as our text suggested, we set out to make our own clay tablets and wedge writing to simulate the Sumerians.
After we rolled out some clay, she started to make the wedge shapes with a Popsicle stick.
Then, we air-dried it in the sun the way the Sumerians used to!
While our cuneiform dried, we then got out our new Evan-Moor History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations workbook to learn more about Mesopotamia.
To start, we colored the cover of our "Ancient Civilizations" book.
Looks great, Mags!
Then, we got to work on out first pocket for our book, "What is History?"  Here, Maggie is working on some vocabulary sheets.
Then, we made a timeline of all of the ancient civilizations we would cover.
Her first pocket for our "Ancient Civilizations" book was done!
Next, we got into Mesopotamia, home of the Sumerians.  We started by sending this postcard of a ziggurat to Maggie's grandparents, telling them a little bit about the Sumerians.  (We will do a postcard for each new civilization we learn about.  Be ready, Mom!)
 After our postcard was mailed, we did the vocabulary for this civilization.
Next?  A couple of Sumerian puppets!
And then we made this cute interactive craft to show how the Sumerians (inventors of the sailboat) traveled up and down the Tigris and Euphrates to trade with other peoples.
For the last project for our history pocket, we made this cute pop-up ziggurat from the book.
Here is Maggie, with her "Ancient Mesopotamia" pocket, ready for binding in our "Ancient Civilizations" book.  Great work, Mags!
 To wrap up our learning of Mesopotamia, we completed this map (labeling and coloring) from our text of that region for our notebook.
We are digging this Mystery of History curriculum!  Hope you do, too!  See you soon!
I have to update this post!  After I posted this, I found out that there was a temporary exhibit at the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta ( that featured an original cuneiform tablet from the Sumerians!  Here is their description of it:

"One of the most exciting events in Near Eastern archaeology was the discovery of a cuneiform tablet from Nineveh that recounted the ancient story of Gilgamesh. The tale is remarkable not only for being mankind’s oldest epic, but also because it tells the story of a catastrophic flood that parallels the biblical story of Noah. The translation of the tablet caused a sensation when it was first announced in 1872. Other tablets with versions of the flood story were later discovered at a number of ancient Near Eastern sites. A tablet discovered in the ruins of the ancient Babylonian city of Nippur in the nineteenth century by a team from the University of Pennsylvania also tells the story of a plan by the gods to destroy the world by means of a great flood and recounts the tale of an immortal man named Utnapishtim, who builds a huge boat to rescue his family and every type of animal. Dating from the seventeenth century BC, the tablet contains six columns of text, three per side, with ten to fifteen lines in each column. Written in Sumerian, it not only tells the story of the deluge, but also describes the creation of humans and animals, and records the names of antediluvian cities and their rulers. It reads, in part: '… A flood will I send which will affect all of mankind at once. But seek thou deliverance before the flood breaks forth, for over all living beings, however many there are, will I bring annihilation, destruction, ruin. Take wood and pitch and build a large ship! … take into it … the animals of the field, the birds of the air and the reptiles, two of each … and the family …'”
I just had to take Maggie to see it!
We were both so surprised at how small it is!  It is dated between c. 1699 - 1600 B.C.  Here she is, in front of it! 
 Here is a close-up.
 We also found cuneiform writing from the Sumerians on other artifacts in the museum.
 And here are some other artifacts from Mesopotamia.  (I took a picture of their descriptions, below.)
(Simply click on the photo to see it larger.)
 Here was another case full of pieces from the Sumerians.  We saw so many neat things!

This is not the history I grew up learning!  I will post pictures of other great things we saw in upcoming posts!  See you soon!


  1. This is great! We just started MOH and I found this very interesting.