History Lesson Log #1: Intro, Prehistory, Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt

our homemade history timelines (and our cute dog too)

As I mentioned in my last post, I plan to keep a detailed record of what resources we’re using for history on this blog. Sometimes we may simply read about a topic, and other times we may go on field trips and do activities. Over time, we may add more to our studies, so I may come back and add more resources to these lists in the future. So these logs are a work-in-progress.

My husband is a history professor, so we’re fortunate that many of these lessons, documentaries and books are supplemented with conversations with him. We also have the benefit of using his college history lectures too. See my last post for access to those.

I am a visual person, so in order to wrap my head around history, I made two timelines – big ones – that you can see in the photos. If it helps me, I thought it might help my boys too. I don’t add everything we study to the timeline, but I’m adding many details to it. I plan to keep this up until both boys graduate from high school and maybe even longer. See this post, if you’d like to learn how I made the timelines.

Note: We have learned – and continue to learn – a tremendous amount about the Earth’s history through our science studies. We love that too, but for the sake this record, I’m going to refer to human history. However, The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History begins with many chapters on the Prehistoric World, if you are looking for a source. I also recommend NOVA’s documentary series, Origins, which deals with the origins of the universe and life itself.

2nd Note: To read about the history books I added to our library and use as a “spine,” see this post: Diving Into Human History.

Prehistory

So, we began with prehistory, which refers to the time before there were any written records.

Sources I’ve used for this topic:

Web

My husband’s lecture and screencast titled “Prehistory

Home Library

The Kingfisher History of Encycolpedia, pages 3-8
The Usborne Encylcopedia of World History, pages 86-109
Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times, pages 1-13

(Page numbers are approximate. Sometimes we read beyond these specific topics.)

Documentaries

These are all excellent, but the first two are my absolute favorites:

Dawn of Humanity
Great Human Odyssey
Iceman Reborn
Secrets of the Sky Tombs
After Stonehenge (Secrets of the Dead)

 

Mesopotamia

Sources I’ve used for this topic:

Web

My husband’s lecture and screencast titled “Mesopotamia

Home Library

The Kingfisher History of Encycolpedia, pages 9, 21-23
The Usborne Encylcopedia of World History, pages 110-113
Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times, pages 32-58

From the Local Library

Life in Ancient Mesopotamia by Shilpa Mehta-Jones
Gilgamesh the King by Ludmila Zeman

Documentaries

NOVA’s Eclipse Over America – Obviously, this is more about science than history, but there is a part in the documentary about how Babylonian astronomers kept track of each eclipse and eventually were able to predict when another would happen. It shows excellent examples of clay tablets with cuneiform writing.

 

Ancient Egypt

Sources I’ve used for this topic:

Web

My husband’s lecture and screencast titled “Ancient Egypt

Home Library

The Kingfisher History of Encycolpedia, pages 10-11, 26-27
The Usborne Encylcopedia of World History, pages 114-117, 134-139
Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times, pages 14-20, 25-31

From the Local Library

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures Ancient Egypt by Joanna Cole (Best book for kids on this topic, IMO.)
Kids Everything Ancient Egypt by Crispin Boyer
The Ancient World: Ancient Egypt by Nel Yomtov
National Geographic Treasury of Egyptian Mythology by Donna Jo Napoli (The boys loved these stories, and the illustrations are beautiful.)

Documentaries

BBC’s Egypt: Rediscovering a Lost World – This is a six-episode docudrama about the discoveries of the ancient tombs. It’s excellent, and my boys loved it. I have linked to the first episode on YouTube. We watched it on Netflix. Be sure to search for all six episodes!

Field Trips

We have visited the Field Museum’s exhibit on Ancient Egypt several times on our trips to Chicago. It’s perhaps one of the best exhibits of Ancient Egypt artifacts in the country. You can explore what an Egyptian tomb would have looked like and view real mummies. Check your local natural history museum to see what they offer!

Feel free to leave information for any resources on these topics that you have found useful too.

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