Monday, May 4, 2009

Night At The Museum History Unit - Easter Island Head, Capuchin Monkeys, and Christopher Columbus

Moving on in our history unit study, we watched a short video on Capuchin Monkeys from Animal Planet, called "Fooled by Nature: Crafty Capuchins". They really are cute monkeys, but very smart. Then we read a little about Christopher Columbus in a You Choose Book entitled Exploring the New World An Interactive History by Melody Herr.

We did a little more work on our Easter Island Head. I wanted to paint it with stone textured spray paint, but we decided the cost of the paint outweighed the benefit of the look to the project. In the end, we opted for black spray paint, followed by light grey. It doesn't show up well in the picture, but the look is adequate.

All the same, though, we didn't feel like we were doing justice to the Easter Island artwork. The heads on the island were carved from stone - reductive sculpture. Our head was the opposite (we added to it, instead of taking away, to get our form). After reading that some archaeologists believe the heads were constructed as a form of competition between tribes, we came up with a better project.

We divided into three teams. Since Grandma and Grandpa are visiting, they each led a team, and Dad led the third. We took one last look at pictures the Easter Island carvings, and then set out to make heads of our own. We carved floral foam instead of stone, and our carving implements were only plastic butter knives, but the process of taking away from the block to find our head was closer to what was originally done.
This actually would make a great party game. It was extremely challenging, and yet still enough fun to keep the interest of the younger children. We found today's quote from Teddy Roosevelt timely and encouraging, "Believe you can, and you're halfway there." In the end, we decided it was a tie. We now have a much greater appreciation for the giant stone monuments of Easter Island.

As it turned out the Granparents had never seen the movie Night at the Museum, and so had no idea what we were doing. This was especially confusing to them when they saw that we were making a pinata for Cinco de Mayo as well. They've been trying to figure out how Theodore Roosevelt, capuchin monkeys, Easter Island, Christopher Columbus, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex mural tied to the holiday.

We belatedly explained that the pinata was just for fun to mark the day, and that the rest was a part of a history unit tied to a movie. Then we set them down to watch the DVD.

It's great to be a homeschooler.

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