Story of the World Vol 2: Chapters 31, 32, 33

I always look forward to the 4th Tuesday of the month when our friends come over to help us review what we have learned in the last three weeks of Story of the World.  This month we covered chapters 31-33 of volume 2, which focus on Christopher Columbus and other explorers to the New World, as well as the people they encountered there.

During the first three Tuesdays of the month, we study the chapters at home as a family.  I read the chapter to the kids while they color the picture that comes in the activity book.  Then we do the map work, and I pick one of the activities to do. I always look ahead to see which activities are best to do as a family, which I want to save for the History Club.

Today, I decided to start off the club with a simple game that I put together.  It was a watered down version of Jeopardy.  I did this at 12:30am, so cut me some slack. I know it's not pretty.  All I did was copy some of the narration questions from each chapter onto construction paper, assign it a dollar value ($1, $5 or $10 depending on the difficulty of the question) and then tape them to the white board.  I used Monopoly game money to award the cash values. 

I broke the kids into 3 teams, letting them buddy up with a similarly aged friend.  I made it clear that the money was not the real motive for the game and we shouldn't fight or argue over it. It was just an added touch to make things more interesting.  They caught on quick and were even helping each other out.

So here's my lame game board:

It was fun! I think it was a GREAT way to review the chapters.

From there I took the kids out to the garage to simulate corn grinding on a metate.  I gave them some popcorn kernels and a rock and let them smash it to dust!  WHo wouldn't love the chance to smash something and not get in trouble, right?  I wish I had taken pictures because they really did a great job.

Then, in honor of Christopher Columbus' voyage, I took the kids upstairs to my bathtub where I had prepared a boat race.  But this wasn't just any boat race.  Oh no. This one involved a chemical reaction, baby.

The activity book says to make the boats by putting straws in the bottom of a plastic bottle.  But I had no straws at 11:30 last night, so I ended up using medicine syringes that I had in the vitamin cupboard, poking them into the lid, and hot gluing around the edges so that there weren't leaks.  Here's how it ended up.

I really think straws would have worked better, because it would have been a smaller opening and provided more thrust.  But hey, we do what we can in a pinch.

So I set up the tub with our boats, vinegar, baking soda, blue water, funnel and measuring spoon.

It was way too crazy to take pictures once the boat races began.  But I sure wish you could have seen the fizz blasting and spraying out on everyone, and heard the shrieks and squeals and laughter as we launched those babies in the tub!

Here's the happy crew

The boats worked so-so. They eventually did make it to the end of the tub after our 4th or 5th try. Tip:  Use PLENTY of vinegar and give it a little shake so that it mixes with all the baking soda. I think we put in about 2 TB of baking soda. I don't know how much vinegar!

Ok, so we toweled off and headed to the kitchen for some eats!

First, I had the kids help me start a pot of hot chocolate.  I wish that I'd had the ingredients from the activity book to make a more authentic south american hot chocolate, but I didn't.  So, again, I improvise and go with my standard recipe.  Here it is:

I used powdered milk instead of fresh.  Helps cut down on our grocery budget and nobody can tell the difference when you're cooking or baking with it.  We made a double batch. 

Once that was well on it's way and heating on the stove, I let the kids help me mix up some MASA (corn flour) and water to make corn tortillas.  

This amount of dough made 16 tortillas.  I love my little tortilla press and my Lodge Logic griddle. THey are perfect for making the perfect tortilla.


You could also just place the dough between a gallon size plastic bag that is cut on 3 sides and press down with a frying pan.  

The kids gobbled those tortillas right up! Plain! They were dunking them in cocoa, until the asked for salsa.  I was surprised how well they liked them.

Of course, I have a soft spot for corn tortillas. In 1996 when I was a sophomore in college I went on a 3 months field study to Guatemala to study courtship and marriage customs among the Mayans living in the highlands there. I stayed with a family in the village of Ixtahuacan.  Every morning I woke to the sound of the women patting and slapping corn dough in their hands (no fancy presses there!) to make our morning tortillas.

In fact, I got out some of my souvenirs from Guatemala to show the kids:   This is a traditional huipil and skirt. I did a horrible job putting this on my daughter.  The belt is super long and I had to hurry to tie it on her because I had tortillas burning on the griddle, cocoa bubbling on the stove and yams turning to mush in the oven!  Whoa! Our kitchen was one hoppin' place for a minute there.

Ok, so we got the food all done and set down to munch while I showed the kids some fun books: 
and this one 

I've been to Tikal and I meant to dig out my photos to show the kids, but time was running really short.  If you ever watch the old Star Wars movies, watch for the scene where they are on top of some Mayan looking temples, and it's overlooking the tops of the trees.  I SWEAR it's TIKAL!  Been there! And I loved it.

So that was class.  I'll share a little known fact with you now, that I failed to share with the kids.  Yours Truly is a published author! Yes indeed.  I have a written work in this book: 

You can look inside the cover and find my name next to the article entitled "The Commitment" Transformations in courtship and Marriage in Santa Catarina Ixtahuacan.
It took years for that book to get published, but there it is!