Looking Back – Mesopotamia Part 2

mesopotamia, unit study, hands on activities, 1

This second post is a continuation of a series of posts about our unit study on Ancient Mesopotamia

For the first part see:

Written Work

Right from the start I did copywork and narration, although at the time I didn’t know these were the official terms for them.  I have always had one reluctant writer.  For that child, having to think, compose their thoughts and then be expected to write them down was simply too much.  Even now, three years later, it’s a struggle.  To cut down on the number of things they had to do at one time, I had them tell me what they knew and then I typed their narrations out and they either stuck the photocopy on a note page or copied it out themselves:

ancient mesopotamia, mesopotamia, unit study, narration, dictation, copywork

Hands on Home School

However, our homeschool has always been about much more than just writing.  Since leaving ACE we have always done a stack of hands on learning.  It may not be pretty, it may not be sophisticated but hands on learning has really helped to cement everything in my children’s minds.  Here with the corresponding note pages are some of the activities we did.

  • The invention of shaddufs and how they revolutionised farming:

The children made a few shaddufs themselves.  I can’t find the photo of the one they made outside but I do remember it worked perfectly and they were out there, dressed up as Mesopotamians, irrigating their ‘fields’!  We also made a small one which we used in our presentations which I will do in a separate post:

Mesopotamia, shadduf, irrigation, hands on activities

  • Ziggarats:

Mesopotamia, ziggerats, hands on activities

  • Houses and how they were built:

Mesopotamia, homes, hands on activities

  • Mesopotamia writing system of cuneiform:

Mesopotamia, ancient writing, cuneiform, hands on activities

  • Seals and cylinder seals:  

We made our own cylinder seals by creating a cylinder in clay and marking it however we wanted.  This was left to dry.  Once dry it can be rolled onto wet clay and the seals mark will be left behind.

The signatory seals were made in much the same way.  Using clay we formed our initial to stand out and left to dry.  This could then be pressed into wet clay to form a ‘signature’ of sorts:

Mesopotamia, cylinder seals, signature seals, hands on activities

  • Clothes

We dressed up some paper dolls  with felt material and woolly hair:

Mesopotamia, clothes, paper dolls, hands on activities

  • Leisure and games 

We made our own Royal Game of Ur:

Mesopotamia, Game of Ur, hands on activities

  • The Standard of Ur 

The Standard of Ur held great fascination for my children and they still remember the lapis lazuli that it was made from.  We attempted to replicate it using  an everyday scene from our lives and coloured card:

Mesopotamia, lapis lazuli, standard of Ur, hands on activities

Next week I will do a post on our wrap-up Mesopotamia night and our visit to the British museum in London.  My final post on Mesopotamia will be all about our end of term presentation the children did, after that very first term doing school our way!

mesopotamia, unit study, hands on activities, 2


  1. Question, what type of clay did you use? Would like to make cueiform and model house- would I use same type of clay for both projects? Thank you! Your unit plans are excellent and I am basing our units off of your ideas and so I greatly appreciate your sharing this information.

    1. Thank you, Lauren. I used plasticine for both because it is easier than regular clay for little people to use. But regular would be fine and possibly a bit more authentic 😀

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