Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Silk Route

I wish you could have joined us this morning.  As I've mentioned previously, the one constant in our learning adventure has been the study of history.  We are currently studying the Middle Ages and we just finished reading about Marco Polo and his journeys East with his father.  A suggestion in our activity book was to set up a mock Silk Route in your house.  The travelers were to start off with a map of the route and continue on a journey that would take them through the Taklamankan and Gobi Deserts, the Tun-huang-shih and Loyang-shih oases and down the Yellow River, triumphantly finishing in Peking.  Aidan approached me last week, all but begging me to have us do this activity.  Admittedly, I thought it sounded extremely cool and I promised him that I would follow through.  Today was the day.
I busily set up the stations throughout our house, constructing signs designating the various stops and then adding my own ideas to the mix.  I drew up a scroll of instructions and warnings and sent them on their way.  The first oasis provided them with raisins and dates and fresh water.  Don't pay attention to the fact that this was really just our teeny bathroom.  After each of their treks across a desert they found themselves at an oasis.  The second rest stop, the Loyang-shih, offered them ginger snaps as a snack and a note that told them that this was made from one of the many spices they would find in the East.  I got a big, "Thanks, Mom!" for that.  After they picked up their oars and made their way down the Yellow River (really, as they climbed the stairs to the second floor), they found themselves in a Chinese Marketplace.  There I was, waiting for them.  I decided to dress up and my costume ended up a conglomeration of many cultures.  I wore a brown skirt with embroidery and shiny sequins on it, a yellow shirt with more embroidery on it, a crazy belt that we made while living with my parents (braided from some psychedelic fabric my mom had around), a string of jingle bells, and a muslin turban upon my head.  I offered my weary travelers ivory (dominoes), gold jewelry and spy glasses (Mardi Gras beads and party favors), precious gems (colored glass rocks), silks (I simply raided our dress up box) and exotic animals (rubber snakes).  They, in turn, offered me gold doubloons, Argentinian coins, jeweled rings, gold pieces (fool's gold) and diamonds (found on our property--not real, unfortunately).  We had so much fun that we did it twice. They really took their trading seriously and they offered comparable items for their purchases.  At the end of it all I got the greatest gift of all.  Aidan turned to me with his gorgeous smile and said quietly but with conviction, "Thanks, Mom.  This was really fun."
I must agree.
I hope they never forget about the Silk Route.

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