Nomads and the First Farmers

We needed a day to catch up on some of our “fun” subjects (history, music and science!).  For history we are using a combination of both Ancients from History Odyssey  and Story of the World.

We have been studying the first people, or nomads, and also the first farmers who settled in the Fertile Crescent.  After doing our readings from Story of the World and A Child’s History of the World we colored the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, the Fertile Crescent and some of the first cities (Jericho and Catal Huyuk).  There are maps provided with both curriculums, though you could find one on your own with a quick google search.

We learned in our readings about the first farm machine, the shaduf.  A shaduf is a lever with a bucket attached to one end.  The farmers would dig canals from the Tigris and Euphrates rivers that extended onto their farm land.  The would then use the shaduf to scoop water out of the canal and onto their farm land.  After coloring a picture of a farmer using one, we decided to build our own.


This coloring page was from the Story of The World program.  I would think it would be easy enough to replicate if you can draw a bit.

This one was my idea, so these are the only directions I have for you.  We honestly made it up as we went along.  We gathered supplies, which we brain stormed while looking at the coloring page.  We decided to make the posts out of legos, use pencils for the lever parts, yarn for the string, a children’s Advil cup for the bucket, and some rocks from the yard for the weight.


I was too busy building to take step by step photos, but first each girl built a post and measured them to be sure they were of equal size so our shaduf would be level.  Then we used the yarn to tie the pencils together.  We then wrapped the yarn around our rocks so we could tie them to one end of the lever pencil and tied up the Advil cup with yarn on the other side.  This was the trickiest part because our materials were so slippery.  We ended up cheating and using some stickers to keep the yarn from sliding off.   Because this could have proved to be an incredibly frustrating project for them to try to build themselves (with the tying and wrapping of the yarn to the objects) I mostly did the work while they gave directions.  When they got confused they’d use their picture as a guide.

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In the end we added some farm land and a farmer and used little legos as water to demonstrate how it all worked.  Molly really, really enjoyed this project and it definitely was a great demonstration of how farmers were able to get water from the rivers for their crops.


A better picture of it all put together.

**Because this got pretty heavy it fell over a few times.  I used some sticky tack (what we use to hang things on the wall) on the bottom of the legos and that did the trick to keep it all upright.**

We went a bit out of order and address cave painting next.  We talked about how we know what life was like for nomads because of the paintings they left on the walls of the caves they stayed in.  We used the iPad to look at lots of pictures of cave paintings.  Then we made our own!  (This idea was in The Story of The World curriculum.  It is definitely the more hands on of the two.)

We crumpled up brown paper bags to make our “cave walls” and picked out oil pastels of the colors we saw in the cave paintings.  They each picked an animal (a zebra and a cow) and went to work.  I thought these turned out pretty darn cute, and they loved pretending to be cave dwellers.  (Please forgive the awful pictures.  I may be forced to get out my real camera.  But then these posts wouldn’t come to fruition…)

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I hope if you have a kiddo interested in cave dwellers or ancient history these projects will be fun for you!  We definitely had a blast doing them, and I know the shaduf is going to be a favorite thing to play with in the coming days.


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