Saturday, July 14, 2018

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Sudan

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For the last 7 years, my kids and I have spent summer vacations visiting countries around the world (in our imaginations, guys, don't get excited.)

We use resources from the library and around the Internet, and it's a lot of work but also fun and a nice break from trips to the beach which are mostly just walking kids back and forth to the Port-a-Potty.

This year my kids decided to kick off the summer with Sudan, and needless to say they learned a lot. In fact, I learned a lot, because before this week I knew nothing.

Monday


The kids started off by locating Sudan on the map and completing the fill-in-the-blank passport pages I designed when this whole thing started. (Feel free to print them out here.)

Six kids, one week learning about Sudan and South Sudan. Free resources and printables included!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The next thing to do was draw the flag and add it to the wall. Our map was printed pre-2011, when Sudan broke into Sudan and South Sudan, so for the sake of going with the map we already have, we decided to do the flags of both.

As we were designing and drawing, we listened to some Sudanese music I requested on interlibrary loan and read out loud these 57 Interesting Facts About Sudan. Did you know that Sudan actually has more pyramids than Egypt?

Tuesday


Christianity is the main religion of South Sudan, but since we are Christian and have also studied various Protestant and Catholic denominations while doing other countries, it's pretty familiar to us. So we focused today on the dominant religion of Sudan: Islam.

I checked out a copy of Mohammed by Demi, which is such a beautifully illustrated children's book about Islam's origins that I'm almost tempted to buy it. We also watched a Religions of the World video on Islam from Schlessinger Media that you and I may or may not have been forced to watch in middle school, which was dry but informative.

The kids have already learned about Islam during our studies of Libya, Oman, and Mauritania, plus we went to an open house at a mosque a few years back, so they're pretty familiar with the history and basic pillars of the Muslim faith.

This week we decided to focus on a Muslim holiday we didn't know much about, and since Eid al-Fitr was just last month (and we didn't even know how to pronounce it without Googling,) we figured that was a good one to start with.
Six kids, one week learning about Sudan and South Sudan. Free resources and printables included!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

After reading Rashad's Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr and Nabeel's New Pants: An Eid Tale, we talked about the ways people celebrate Eid and how we could do something similar at home.

We planned to wear our finest clothes to dinner at eat a full Sudanese meal, but I forgot we had youth activities at our church that night and we ended up eating a rushed meal of spaghetti and running out the door. (That's okay, it's the thought that counts.)

We did, however, make these Sudanese holiday cookies, gave gifts to each other (the kids drew each others' names and made a picture,) and pooled some money to donate to the poor through our church's humanitarian fund (which Muslims would call zakat.)

Six kids, one week learning about Sudan and South Sudan. Free resources and printables included!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
We used my 2-year-old's baby bottle to cut out the shapes.

Six kids, one week learning about Sudan and South Sudan. Free resources and printables included!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Not very sweet, but the kids ate straight powdered sugar of their hands after dusting the cookies so they were satisfied.

Six kids, one week learning about Sudan and South Sudan. Free resources and printables included!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
The 6-year-old went nuts creating paintings for her brother, but I think mostly because she accidentally poured herself WAY too much paint and was trying to get rid of it.

For the record, Phillip was very incredulous that we were skipping Ramadan and going straight to celebrating Eid because that's missing the point, but we meant well. (Our purpose was obviously not to offend anybody, but to increase our understanding of and knowledge about world religions.)

Wednesday


I put on a Little Pim Arabic learning video, which my youngest watched while dreamily lying on the carpet wearing a firefighter's helmet.

Six kids, one week learning about Sudan and South Sudan. Free resources and printables included!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

We quickly reviewed Arabic numbers and how to say hellogoodbyeplease, and thank you which we'd already learned in previous summers, and spent a few minutes on YouTube watching this alphabet song:


Even though it's just an alphabet song, it also conveyed the importance of the Quran and Mohammed to Islam which was a nice reinforcement of what we learned yesterday.

We never really tried to write in Arabic before because it looked so intimidating, but I found this chart online and had the kids trace the letters. I had them note that everything went from right to left, and tried to get them to follow the correct stroke order.

Everyone but the 2-year-old at least tried.

Six kids, one week learning about Sudan and South Sudan. Free resources and printables included!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

We attempted to learn color names with another YouTube video, and then we played Twister with this spinner and game board I'd stayed up way too late the night before doctoring with Arabic color names and just for fun, the Arabic words for 'hand' and 'foot.'

Six kids, one week learning about Sudan and South Sudan. Free resources and printables included!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Six kids, one week learning about Sudan and South Sudan. Free resources and printables included!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Unfortunately, the Arabic words for red, blue, yellow, and green all sounded too similar for us to tell apart, except for my 14-year-old who is sort of a foreign language wizard.

Thursday


Having an almost high-schooler has its benefits, because all I did today in terms of prep was say, "Hey, I want you to read this Wikipedia article and tell us about it over dinner, kay?"

My daughter didn't disappoint, and she taught us all about the decades of civil war in Sudan and the resulting peace treaty that created South Sudan as an independent country in 2011.

We then read Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan. I had no idea about this fascinating and heartbreaking piece of history. I wanted to watch the documentary Rebuilding Hope with the older kids (which we can get for free on Amazon Instant Video) but we ran out of time. Maybe another day this summer. (Caution: I haven't seen it or screened it for age appropriate-ness, so use your own judgement.)

That night for dinner I made ful medames, the national dish of Sudan. It was very pretty, but I must not have put enough salt in it because it definitely didn't taste as good as it looked.

Six kids, one week learning about Sudan and South Sudan. Free resources and printables included!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I wasn't sure that the kids would be crazy about this fava bean-based dish anyway, but I served it with naan so I knew they'd at least eat something.

Six kids, one week learning about Sudan and South Sudan. Free resources and printables included!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

We have naan at our house all the time and they are willing to fight to the death for the leftovers.

Friday


We wrapped up our week in Sudan by touring a few of the interesting places in the country. We read about Suakin Island, where you can see the ruins of a once-beautiful port city on an oval-shaped island in the Red Sea that has been abandoned since the 1930s.

In this YouTube video, we visited some temple ruins and the Meroƫ pyramids in Sudan:


It was simultaneously very cool and very sad how those sites weren't protected or regulated by anyone. You could just walk right up to the pyramids and touch them, walk around in them... but some people abused that freedom and graffitied their names and all sorts of other dumb stuff right on the pyramids.

That gave us an opportunity to discuss the quote "With great power comes great responsibility," which comes from the great American philosopher Spider-Man. We talked about the importance of preserving beautiful places and treating them with respect, and then got a garbage bag and went to pick up trash on the side of the busy road near our house.

I'm sure it looked like I was out there with a chain gang of six, and by the end even my 2-year-old was pointing out cigarette butts for his siblings to pick up (not remembering what they were called, though, he called them "buttcracks.")

This week, I also left copies of the following books around the house knowing that my kids would pick them up and read them:

Who knew there were so many good chapter books to be found on Sudan??

Six kids, one week learning about Sudan and South Sudan. Free resources and printables included!  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

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