Monday, June 20, 2016

Kindergartners' Father's Day Memes!!!

Kindergartners were shown a photograph of their Dads and asked what Dad might be thinking! 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

That Was Ancient History?

There is an old saying, 'History has a way of repeating itself. ' Another warns us to 'be careful or we will repeat the mistakes of the past.'   

Our class took a field trip to the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology a while back and participated in a tailor-made tour of the exhibit on Ancient Egypt.  Our very knowledgeable docent led us through several exhibits of interest with our first stop being the sarcophagus (or esophagus as the Kindergartners like to jokingly call it.)   She pointed out the elaborate designs in the interior of the magnificently carved and painted container and explained that this would have been one of many matryoshka-like vessels in a set.  

Just around the corner, however, lay a stark contrast of a figure.  This one was much smaller, hardly ornate, and missing its coffin.  This mummy was of a small child, almost the size of the children gazing at it.

Our docent explained that although it did not have its royal trappings, it was discovered that it may have had royal blood after all.  Using a high powered x-ray machine scientists were able to see that he/she had a sixth finger (also found in a family line of Egyptian royalty).  They also were able to use a 3D printer to replicate the skull of the child mummy.  From the 3D skull, a sculptor was also able to create a likeness of the face. The x-ray process allows the anthropologists to leave this ancient discovery intact for the next generation (maybe one of our Kindergarten scientists) to enjoy and study.

Further on through our tour, we were able to study a 'false door' used to trick would-be grave robbers and also post warnings of impending curses upon intruders.  It was not until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, however, that Archaeologists were able to decipher the Egyptian code know as hieroglyphs.  We were glad that our beloved Head of School Joanna had such a replica in her possession from one of her visits to London.  When we arrived back at school, we were able to borrow and study hers to find out what some of those symbols meant.  Joanna did mention, however, that the size of the actual Rosetta Stone was much bigger than our hand held model.  We also observed the other languages on the stone (Greek and Demotic) that aided in the translation of the hieroglyphs.  

Later on, we learned about several artifacts that were important to what is now known (and still used to a certain extent) as an embalming or mummification process.  Decorating canopic jars used to house the internal organs (except the brain-the Egyptians threw that away); natron salts, linen bandages, small amulets like the ankh symbol and shabtis (servant dolls believed to  be necessary in the afterlife)  were among the items discovered wrapped with the mummy also discovered through x-ray.

Mummified cats and birds appeared to be one of the highlights of the trip.

We also marveled at the shelf life of intricately woven Egyptian sandals. The scribe held an important position in ancient Egyptian life.  He was the reporter and storyteller who kept notes on the history of this fascinating civilization.   They say that history is only as accurate as the one who is telling it, however.  Our class  found out through other studies later on that some Ancient Egyptian history, monuments and treasures were purposefully destroyed by usurpers; stolen and taken to far away lands and/or are still buried deep in the sand yet to be discovered.

Water vessels came in many sizes.  The vase above was found along with other household goods like lamps, the sandals, and foot stools in an excavation in a village.  The humongous pot was of course bigger than the Kindergartners and probably stored water to last throughout a dry spell.

Lastly, we found out that many other civilizations were impacted by and were influences of Ancient Egyptian culture.  We were able to use colorful cutouts to create our own mythical monsters - then we wrote about them.  We continued this activity in Art class and gave our  combined creatures attributes and special diets.  We also studied Ancient Greek culture with Madame in Latin class which gave us even more insights into the influence of this culture.

Kindergartners were able to hopefully discover that although the history of Egypt is sometimes ancient, there are many influences that still impact us today.  The preserving of it, whether it be learning from the embalming process or by visiting museums of Archaeology like the Kelsey is worthwhile, insightful and lasting. 

Kindergartners used water, rocks and a lots of sand to create their own Egyptian-like civilization.

Shabti (servant doll) figurines,  typically tucked into the linen wrappings of more affluent mummies, were simulated  out of Ivory soap flakes tinted with  blue watercolor paint.  We found out that aromatic oils were added to a later stage of the mummification process.   The children, however,  had mixed feelings about the smell of soap.

Sarcophagi were made out of shoe boxes.  Pencil shavings were added to the paint to give a more realistic look of aged wood.

A finished sarcophagus fit for a Pharaoh.

During Math class, we followed a recipe of shredded paper, water, glue,  liquid starch and soap for fragrance to create our own paper maché mummies.

Ks (this one is Alex's) each took their own detailed digital photograph of a cows skull during an art lesson using digital photography.  Many Ancient Egyptian wall paintings included animals like the cow.
Dillon's mythological animal could have easily been depicted inside of the famous pyramids. 

"Half dragon/half crocodile
Breathes fire with white squares.
Eats cats."

 A perfect end to our Ancient Egyptian Studies-a lotus flower,  depicted in Ancient Egyptian maps  to denote the path of the Nile River, was spotted on Whitmore Lake during our visit to the Rouillard's home on Friday.  A majestic crane hovering the far banks, was also featured in Egyptian artwork.

Here is a link to an upcoming event sponsored by the Kelsey Museum during Top of the Park that your little Archaeologist will definitely want to visit!  Also, don't forget to attend the SK "Flight" themed booth as well! ;)

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Return to Normal Park Garden and a trek through the woods!

Kindergartners returned to Normal Park Community Garden to check on our garden's progress.  Please see a previous blog for more details.)  This effort will support local food banks by providing fresh vegetables and fruits to those who may not readily have access to them.   We first assisted with returning a rather large picnic table into a cozy space that is  furnished with a sand box area that is perfect for budding junior gardeners.   

Some Ks took a bit of a hike over to turn on the water hose then gave some thirsty plants (and soil) a well deserved drink.  They even remembered to water the plot of the vacationing neighbor. It is, by the way, already lush and teeming with veggie life.  There must have been lots of helpers.  We also checked on the strawberry patch only to find that they are still very green.

August's family has their own plot as well and their red lettuces looked very tempting poking out of partially covered tarp.  An adorable label made by August designated their spot.

Individual garden plots showed various stages of growth and tending.  The garden is cared for by several people at different times during the growing season.  It has been a unique experience each time we came.


Many hands make light work, they say.  It was good to have this many hands to keep the hose from tangling.

August's Dad Ed pointed out clues that let us know that there have been deer walking through the garden although it is surrounded on all sides by a fence.

Afterward, we traveled out of the back gate toward the wooded area.

Dad pointed out several wild raspberry bushes right at the entrance.

a hollowed tree stump flower pot

August's Mom, with field guide in hand, assisted us with identifying Michigan wildlife that included  the dreaded poison ivy.  It even looks like the "Michigan mitten."

The perfect spot for a photo op-atop a felled tree!  

We found out that our lovely, cool  trail led us right back to where we started. 

Our moist feet on the pavement left only temporary evidence of our visit.

 A brief stroll down the block brought us to our next destination-August's home.

We refreshed ourselves with our lunches and cool drinks, games of soccer, basketball and lacrosse, playing with bubble wands and remote control cars and relaxing in the shade.

We were sad when it was time to go because we were having so much fun! 

Our sadness was forgotten, however, during our water balloon and splash party in the sprinkler with our Elaine Buddies later that afternoon.

Thank you to ALL who have served and are serving in our Armed Forces!