Today I told the boys "The Story of Communication in Signs" sometimes called "The Story of Writing," "The Story of the Coming of Writing," "The History of Writing," or something else I can't think of at the moment. I keep all of our materials for this story in one of our nifty drawers in our blue hardware cabinet.
This is some of what you'll find in the drawer. You'll see that I have not one but two bound booklets labeled "The Story of Writing." I tell this story to my kids twice. The first day I tell the story and show the charts given on the Moteaco website (the contents of one of the booklets). The second day I tell the story and show the charts from the Keys of the Universe album (the other booklet). I find the Moteaco charts illustrate the progression of picture writing pretty clearly and the charts are very simple and easy to understand. The KotU charts are a little more detailed and are fun as a "second layer." The story I tell itself is a combination of the two. The stories are very similar to one another. The KotU story is more beautifully written but the Moteaco presentation does a better job of indicating when and how to use the charts. I tell a Frankenstein-blend of the two and add a few of the sentences to better connect "The Story of Writing" to the story of the Tower at Babel. The Tower of Babel ties the "Story of Writing" back into the story of human history and the seven major events in the timeline of man we used along with our Third Great Lesson. Instead of teaching the boys that learning to talk and write was something that cavemen did over millennia, I teach them that these are things that nearly everyone had to learn to do in the wake of the events at the Tower of Babel. Here is a fun read to go along with that: How was Moses able to read pre-Tower of Babel Texts? (More on religion and the Great Lessons here.)
Getting back to the above photo and the contents of our "History of Language" drawer, below is a photo of just one of the Moteaco charts as bound in our booklet:
And below is a photo of one of the KotU charts in its booklet:
Some of the other resources are intended for further work into development of alphabets. The booklet labeled "History of Language: Nomenclature" is full of charts from the Mid-America Language album (see example below). They show the development of a single letter over time. The album suggests that they be printed as cards and used along with the BC/AD timeline.
Another of the booklets contains charts that are also from the Mid-America album showing single letters and full alphabets (Irish Miniscule, Gothic, Hebrew, Thai, Russian, Greek, Roman, Phoenician, Arabic, Chines, Tuareq, Hieratic)
When we came to the part in the story regarding papyrus and Egyptian hieroglyphics I had few artifacts I could pull out. My husband took a trip to Greece, Egypt, and Israel in 2000. He returned with many souvenirs, but one of the papyrus sure came in handy today. He also brought ME a very special gift. At the time we had been dating for about six years. When he returned he called right away to see me and said he brought me some souvenirs. When I opened the first package and saw the t-shirt I briefly had one of those "my boyfriend travels abroad and all I got was a stinkin' t-shirt" moments. He also brought me a necklace with hieroglyphics on it:
I assumed it was my name, but when I tried to translate it with the shirt (not quite how these hieroglyphics are supposed to work, but never mind) it just wasn't working out and I realized that the necklace spells "MARRY ME." He must have been sure I would say "yes" because he also stuck a slip of paper with a prayer on it for "our long and happy marriage" into the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem which I can only imagine has since been collected and buried in the Mount of Olives.
The boys didn't know this story until today. I reminded them about Daddy's trip and let them translate the necklace themselves. They were pretty tickled and I think they'll remember the lesson.
Also in our "History of Language" drawer are two- and three-part cards from ETC Montessori. I'm pretty mad at myself because intended to make the two-part cards into a control booklet for the three-part cards. However, I laminated them and forgot to stack the images and definitions back-to-back. It will be too thick to comb-bind this way. Perhaps I'll turn it into an accordion book instead. At any rate, Me Too found them attractive as is:
Kal-El was inspired and too busy for cards. He was off digging through the encyclopedias looking for the Korean alphabet. He says that Korean is one of the languages he plans to learn in his life. He wasn't happy with what he found in the encyclopedia and asked me to print him an alphabet for Korean like the other alphabets in the alphabet booklet.
He spent the rest of the day practicing writing syllabic blocks on squared paper.
Me Too was captivated by the Maritime Flag Alphabet on one of the ETC Montessori cards. He asked me to print him one, frame it, and hang it in his room. I printed one, laminated it, and told him to use it as he wished. He studied it for a long time and then wrote me a secret message (it said, "I love you," sort of).
Today's lesson reminded the boys of some books we have upstairs in our "home research library" and they announced their intention to bring those downstairs tomorrow. We have (and I can recommend):
- 26 Letters by Oscar Ogg
- The Story of Writing by Carol Donoughue
- The History of Making Books: From Clay Tablets, Papyrus Rolls, and Illuminated Manuscripts to the Printing Press
Revisiting these should segue nicely into making paper, exploring other kinds of writing, etc.,