This month (while taking plenty of time off for summer break) we have been focusing on Lebanon, as part of our world cultures homeschool curriculum. It is a beautiful country with a rich history and culture that are definitely worth exploring! Below is an outline of our unit study:
Lebanon Unit Study
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Our main text, referred to a number of times below, was Lebanon (Enchantment of the World, Second). This is part of a wonderful series of country profiles from Scholastic books, which give very comprehensive overviews of countries around the world.
Gross Motor: I had Monkey do body spelling for the word “Lebanon.” This was the first time I had tried this, and he had so much fun that we ended up going through the whole alphabet!
Map Skills and Fine Motor: Monkey has gotten frustrated with having to draw maps of the countries, so this time I instead made a connect the dot map for him to complete. We also looked at what countries bordered Lebanon and where it is situated in relation to other countries we have studied.
Recipes: Cooking with kids is a great way to learn about another culture! Here are the two recipes we picked to try:
Hummus, from Cooking the Lebanese Way
Ma’amoul cookies from Marie’s Pastiche: Though traditionally made for Easter, they look so delicious we decided to make them in July!
Music: During breaks I also put on some Lebanese music for the kids to listen to. I really enjoyed the classical music, while the kids liked the very danceable pop music. (That is, when I was able to get them to listen to anything other than the Imperial March from Star Wars). As with pop music anywhere, the videos may not be appropriate for children. Either screen them carefully ahead of time or do what I did: forget the videos altogether and just pipe them through your speakers. Since none of us speak Arabic, I didn’t even have to worry about the lyrics!
Ecology: The cedar tree is the quintessential symbol of Lebanon, because of its importance to the country’s history and current sense of national pride. We started off by reading about them from our Lebanon (Enchantment of the World), including recent conservation efforts.
Fine Motor: Monkey isn’t really into crafting much these days, so even though the Lebanese flag, with its beautiful cedar tree, would lend itself very well to a craft, instead I decided to sneak in more fine motor practice by making a connect the dots version for him to complete.
This video from CNN gives a great overview about the importance of the cedar tree in Lebanon as well as the threats it faces today.
To get a sense of the importance of cedars to the history of Lebanon, we read the Bible story of the building of Solomon’s Temple (which used cedar trees) as well as the related section from Lebanon (Enchantment of the World). As the cedar trees were also important in ship-building, this led naturally into our study of the Phoenicians (see below).
We also talked about the need for conservation to help protect the cedar trees, which have faced deforestation as well as damage from the recent civil war.
There is great information about the Phoenicians in Lebanon (Enchantment of the World), including their history and contribution as traders and linguists.
Language Arts and Fine Motor practice: Did you know that our word “phonics” comes from “Phoenician”? It is thanks to them that we write with a modern alphabet as opposed to still working with complex hieroglyphics. As the Phoenicians were writing this revolutionary alphabet with styluses on clay tablets, we pulled out our play dough and plastic knives to give it a try, copying images of the alphabet we found online. It turns out that the play dough was rather soft, making it hard to make the letters, but I was proud of Monkey for persisting until he figured out how much pressure to use to make the prints he wanted.
An ancient Phoenician boat, ready to set sail and go trading #mkbkids #kbn #momsoninstagram #homeschooling #lebanon #globaled #mkbglobaled #history A photo posted by Leanna Alldonemonkey (@alldonemonkey) on
Arts and Crafts, Math and Logic: One of the most fun activities we did was to make boats and play this trading game from Creekside Learning. While they did one boat big enough for their kids to climb in, I opted for these juice carton boats from Saving Said Simply. They turned out really cute, and the boys love playing with them!
The trading game was fun as well and got Monkey thinking about what things would have been like before money, when everything had to be negotiated. (“Imagine your brother has R2D2 and a battleship. If you wanted to trade with him, you couldn’t just offer a battle droid, it would have to be something he really wanted…”). It also led to practical questions, like why they didn’t trade for food (they probably did, but just for the short-term, since there weren’t refrigerators, and traveling by ship took a long time).
Olives and Olive Trees
Ecology, Gross Motor: Olive trees are also important to Lebanon, as they are throughout this region. We’ll be sampling some olives, plus we learned a bit about how olive oil is made. After watching this video, we had SO MUCH FUN with a gross motor activity, where I had the boys pretend to be olives being made into olive oil (grow into a tree, fall to the ground…).
Language Arts: We re-read one of our favorite books, The Olive Tree. We discussed what Sameer’s family used the olive tree for, as well as what the tree symbolized for the families. This book is a wonderful way of showing the practical uses but also emotional attachments people can have to the natural world. (For more on this great book, read my full review, included in this book list).
I picked out several words from the book to focus on, and we did vocabulary charades (where he acted out the meanings) and drawings (where he drew pictures about them).
We also talked about the olive tree as a symbol of peace by reading the Bible story of Noah’s ark and discussing how trees can symbolize peace because they are a sign of new life and because they need a peaceful environment to flourish.
War and Peace
Peace is our virtue of the month, and it ties in perfectly to this unit, considering Lebanon’s troubled past. One beautiful book to discuss the war in Lebanon is Sami and the Time of the Troubles. It gives a view of war from a child’s point of view, such as the days where they must stay in the basement instead of playing outside. However, use care when reading these with your children, as it may not be appropriate for young or sensitive children, especially as it mentions early on that Sami’s father was killed by a bomb planted at a market. In the end I decided not to share this book with my sensitive 5 year old, though it may be something we come back to when he is older.
Instead we talked more generally about the war and how people have been working to come together and heal their country in the years since. The Olive Tree is a really excellent book to share, as it mentions the war but leaves up to the adult how much detail to fill in. Also, I love that it focuses on children forming new friendships and learning to work together.
We will also do this Olive Tree Peace Craft from Marie’s Pastiche, which draws on the symbolism of the olive tree to encourage children to be peacemakers through acts of kindness and cooperation.
This post is part of our new series Global Learning for Kids. Each month we will feature a country and host a link party to collect all the various posts people about teaching kids about that country–crafts, books, lessons, recipes, etc. It will create a one-stop place full of information about the country.
This month we are learning all about Lebanon, so link up below any old or new posts designed to teach kids on Lebanon–crafts, books, lessons, recipes, music, and more!