Ancient Mesopotamian Meal

One of the things I like about Tapestry of Grace is that it reminds me to do a lot of hands-on activities with the kids.  Last week, for example, we were studying ancient Mesopotamia in history and the Patriarchs in Bible.  Can I tell you how much it made our understanding of Abraham come alive once we had studied about Ur (the city where he was born) and ancient nomadic culture?

 After we read about Esau selling his birthright for some lentil stew, and about how Mesopotamians made food and how nomads lived, we decided to have a Mesopotamian lunch.  The kids helped make a lentil dish (we used this fabulous Chana Masala recipe from Orangette, but substituted lentils for the chickpeas–maybe a little more Indus River Valley than Mesopotamia, but close enough!) and an easy flatbread recipe, and I pulled out an actual Bedouin eating carpet I bought on a business trip to Saudi Arabia long ago, and we had ourselves a meal.

As we ate, we talked about how we liked or disliked eating out of the same bowl, eating on a carpet, eating outside in the heat, and whether or not we think this lentil stew is worth a birthright (we decided it’s awesome as lentil dishes go, but not worth giving up your blessings for!).  It was so fun to hear the kids making connections between the history and geography and literature we’ve read and have opinions and ideas about what they are learning.  It’s at times like this that I really love homeschooling!

Putting on activities like this does require extra work and cleanup on my part, even (perhaps especially) when the kids help, but I am really seeing the benefit to putting in the extra effort for things like this in life and in education.

If you’re studying the ancient world this year too, or have in the past, what are some fun activities you’ve tried?

8 thoughts on “Ancient Mesopotamian Meal

  1. Your meal looks fantastic!!!! We are also studying Ancient History this year, using Sonlight sort of as a guide as well as S. W. Bauer’s History of the World. I think we better make some yummy food like this!! Sadly, I don’t have the carpet but we could pretend. 🙂

  2. I love making connections like this with my kids (and for myself too!). Mine are still young so we are just in the early stages, and I love getting inspiration from others! Thanks for sharing. And that lentil soup sounds delicious!

  3. I love the way doing this sort of thing can really make things come alive for them.

    Do you see yourself doing Tapestry of Grace all the way through grade 12 with your children or will you use it only through elementary school years? For some reason I am under the impression that it is not as challenging and in depth as some of the curricula you would find in the Veritas catalog, such as the Omnibus. Do you think this is true?

    1. Bethany, I am not sure what we will do for high school yet, but I can see using TOG all the way and supplementing with additional reading from Ambleside Online and Omnibus. I read this very helpful run down comparison of TOG and Omnibus for high school on the Well Trained Mind forums; perhaps it would be helpful for you to consider: (see the comment by karenciavo on the thread).

      What I like best about TOG is that it integrates so many subjects: history, literature, geography, government, philosophy, art, etc. My understanding is that Omnibus is more of a literature/great books program. And I think great books are awesome, but I like the idea of studying them in the context of what else was happening in the world while they were written, what the implications of the ideas were, and so forth.

      As far as TOG being less challenging and in-depth, I have found so far that the program is very easily tailored to your family. You could make it easy, or you could make it hard. For example, we have a K and 1st grader by age, but we’re doing all of the required and suggested readings for lower grammar (K-3) and upper grammar (2-5) because we really like to read. I am bringing in other books as I find them or know of them already. I’ve also planned to condense a few weeks into one week in at least one case so we can expand on some weeks when I’d rather add in a lot more books (Greece and Rome). I can see how in upper grades it would be even easier to add additional readings or to take two weeks to cover a week plan more in-depth.

      Then again, I say this all with a grain of salt because I find it better to stay agile with curricula rather than making long-term commitments. We have found that different things worked best in different years, and we’ve only been at this for three years!

  4. Thank you so much for your response and the link for the Well Trained Mind forum…reading that is the first thing I am going to do when my son goes to bed tonight. I also really love the integration that TOG supplies. That integration is really what classical ed. is all about!

  5. Next week we are going to try our hand at making an ancient map out of clay using symbols instead of words. We’re going to the IMA to look at the ancient artifacts and art there and hoping to put on a few plays here at home:)

  6. Lentils are also commonly used in Ethiopia in a stew-like dish called kik, or kik wot, one of the dishes people eat with Ethiopia’s national food, injera flat bread. Yellow lentils are used to make a nonspicy stew, which is one of the first solid foods Ethiopian women feed their babies…;:;


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