Catapult Project

Popsicle stick catapult. Lego Star Wars figures, optional.

This is a great project with a really simple design, for those of you with kiddos out there who like to build things. This catapult is made with popsicle sticks and thin ribbon, plus a bottle cap to put the objects you will be flinging. The bottle cap is attached with an adhesive strip, but hot glue would work just as well.

The Creekside Dad tasked Firefly, age 8, with designing his own catapult. First, they looked at pictures of catapults in our history book, and discussed the basics of the design:  a base, a flexible or tension-filled arm, a container to hold what you are trying to send flying. Used to designing things with Legos, this proved a bit challenging for Firefly. Legos are not flexible. He tried Kinex. A very good choice, as they can bend, but our limited Kinex collection didn’t have what was needed for the base.
 Finally, they found a little inspiration, proving that Pinterest is useful to men as well as women. (I knew this, of course, but my husband doesn’t get the whole Pinterest thing.)

I like how this was a whole process. Even thought the first two building mechanisms, Legos and Kinex, didn’t work, Firefly stuck it out, through his frustrations, and the end result was something fun and functional.
 We did this as part of our ancient history studies of Rome.

Linking up at these linky parties. 


Ancient Rome: Togas and More

Roman laurel wreath crown project, from History Pockets.

We’ve been learning about ancient Rome and doing some fun projects.

This week we made laurel wreath crowns and a toga, then the kids dressed up like the Roman emperors we’ve been studying.  This would also be a great go-along project for learning about the Olympic games.

The laurel wreath crown was inspired by History Pockets.  We took a paper plate and cut the middle out and a slit for the back.  We made a simple leaf template and traced it onto two shades of green paper.  The kids cut the leaves out and then we glued them to the paper plate.  We added a red ribbon, just like the ancient laurel crowns had.

“Toga! Toga! Toga!”

The toga is one long piece of fabric leftover from a party decorating box my relatives left in my basement (score!). So we borrowed it to make an easy and perfect toga. Here’s what we did: Tuck one end of the fabric into your waistband, wrap the material one and a half times around your waist, then sling it across your chest and over your shoulder. Tuck into the back of your waistband. Instant toga!

In between these fun activities, we’ve been reading our go-along resources about Rome. We have a large collection of books about Rome. For some reason I kept scooping them up at bookstores, homeschool conferences and such. But here are our very favorites:

More to come about ancient Rome. We’ll be studying it all month. Next up, catapults!

For more fun history projects, be sure to follow my collaborative Hands-On History  Pin Board and my Ancients Board on Pinterest.

Follow Creekside Learning on Facebook.

Linky parties: Get inspired. Play with your kids. Get your craft on. 

Make a Cardboard Hobby Horse

Inspired by a story we read about Alexander the Great and his horse, a huge, wild black stallion that only Alexander could ride, Firefly and I decided to make a horse that he could ride. Perfect for a 7 year old.

Naturally, The Queen Bee and Love Bug (ages 6 and 3) wanted one, too, so now we have a small herd of horses and lots of wonderful pretending, including ancient Greek warriors, modern day local farmers and cowboys, too.  “Howdy, ma’am.”
 We made a template of a horse’s head, then traced six pieces onto cardboard.  I drew in an ear, eye and nostril, then the kids colored the horses to their liking.
 We taped a stick (any straight stick will do, we used a variety, including a piece of dried bamboo and a yard stick) onto of the inner sides of a horse head, then put loops of packing tape all over the inside and pressed the two sides together.
 Then they were ready to ride!
 The story of Alexander the Great, and his horse, Bucephelus, is in Chapter 25 of The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child: Volume 1: Ancient Times.  There is a horse-head template that can be enlarged for this project in the accompanying Activity Book.

For more Ancient History projects and ideas, visit my Story of the World page and the Hands-On History Collaborative Pinterest board.

Linking up with these great Linky Parties.


Ancient Greece Activities

We’ve been working our way through the chapters in our history curriculum that cover ancient Greece. Here are some of the fun projects we’ve done to go along with them.

We made a paper parthenon from our History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations 
book and learned all about the goddess, Athena, whose statue was placed inside the Parthenon.

We made a pizza dough Parthenon. Okay, use your imagination. It wasn’t easy getting the dough to stretch just the way we wanted it, but it was fun to make.
 While our dough was baking, we learned about how the Greeks had dinner parties, from the  Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient World.

 We decided to have a Greek Lunch Party, in the style of ancient Greece. We bathed and “perfumed” our feet before entering the party…
 …then had our lunch while reclined on the couch cushions, just like the ancient Greeks.  With a few modifications, like our beach towels to protect the couches.
 The kids decided this was  a fun way to eat, much more fun than eating at the table.  I have the feeling that there will be some more Greek Lunch Parties in our future.


Resources for Learning About Ancient Greece

We are gearing up to learn about ancient Greece over the next several weeks. I’ll be posting about the activities that we do, but thought that first I’d share the books and resources that we will be using.

First, we plan to learn about the wonderful Greek myths.  For this, we will use the classic D’Aulatires’ Book of Greek Myths as well as Usborne Greek Myths for Young Children.  We will accompany that with  the Dover coloring book on Greek Gods and Goddesses.

As we delve deeper into what life was like in ancient Greece, we will use two books that I really like a lot.  A Visitor’s Guide to the Ancient World by Lesley Sims reads like a Fodors-type tour guide, detailing via text and illustrations, what exactly one could expect to experience if they were traveling in the ancient world:  what to wear, what to eat, where to stay, what the local customs are, etc.

I Wonder Why…Greeks Built Temples and other Questions About Ancient Greece is another great resource, full of picture and descriptions about the whys of ancient Greece:  What did Greeks have for breakfast?  What did girls do all day?  Who discovered that the Earth was round? Why were the Olympics held? and so on.

And we have been loving History Pockets:  Ancient Civilizations for all of the wonderful hands-on projects in provides, so I am excited to get to the ancient Greek projects in this book.

And we will continue to use our main texts, Story of the World and it’s accompanying Activity Book, as well as the Usborne Internet-Linked Encyclopedia of World History.  We’ve also been getting a lot out of DK’s Atlas of World History.  This large book is full of historical maps, which we’ve been tracing with tracing paper, giving us a good understanding of the lay of the land back in ancient times.  There is also a lot of very interesting accompanying information about cultures, wars, and historical facts.


So look for my posts with lots of hands-on activities coming soon on Ancient Greece.  I’ll also be pinning along with my fellow bloggers on the new Collaborative Pinterest pin board, Hands-On History.  If your kiddos like to learn via projects, activities, field trips and more, this pin board is a great way to get ideas for keeping historical learning fun and exciting for your early elementary students.

If you are a blogger who blogs about fun hands-on history projects and you’d like to join our collaborative pin board, let me know. The more the merrier!