Home School Life Journal From Preschool to High School

Home School Life Journal ........... Ceramics by Katie Bergenholtz
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales

Marco Polo's (1271-1295) Journey, Part VIII: From India to Venice and the Spices Nutmeg and Mace

Marco Polo was on the last leg of his journey home from China to Venice, stopping off in India.
Rangoli are traditional patterns used to decorate Hindu homes in India on special occasions. I found this easy version with dried lentils, rice,  peas and beans at Nurture Store.
First I helped them trace a plate and using a ruler, draw a geometric design in the circle

They then glued beans, lentils, pasta and spices on their patterns.



Another interesting project you can do is to make pictures of Indian Slippers. Handmade shoes, slippers and sandals are popular in Indian Bazaars. Traditional cobblers stitch the shoes using leather and fabric. You can create these Slippers of India from Painted Paper, using painted paper, metallic markers and yarn for tassels.
Slippers of India project from Painted Paper

After visiting several seaports in India, he and his party sailed across the Arabian Sea and to the mouth of the Persian Gulf, landing at the port city of Hormuz.

Indian Dal
Dal is the Indian word for lentils. it is cooked almost daily in every Indian home. As a result, there was many different ways to prepare dal. Often they used red lentils and served it over rice.

Sailing the treacherous coast of Southeast Asia and India, Marco returns to Venice after 24 years, rich in gems and wild tales of unimagined lands.

The last spices in our spices unit are nutmeg and mace.
from My Diverse Kitchen
The nutmegs Myristica are evergreen trees indigenous to tropical southeast Asia and Australasia. Two spices derived from the fruit, nutmeg and mace. Nutmeg is the actual seed of the tree, roughly egg-shaped and while mace is the dried "lacy" reddish covering or arillus of the seed.

 Indonesian Nutmeg Tea Cookies (Kue Kering)
8 ounces butter (two sticks), at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

Cream the butter with a whisk or electric hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the vanilla extract and egg until thoroughly incorporated. Stir together the flour, salt, and freshly grated nutmeg in a separate bowl. Add the nutmeg flour to the creamed butter mixture slowly while stirring by hand, just until combined.
Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Roll each piece of cookie dough into a cylinder about 8 inches long and 1 inch wide. Wrap the log in wax paper or plastic wrap and chill until firm, at least 2 hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Prepare a baking sheet for each cookie dough log. Cut each log into 16 equal pieces, about half an inch thick, and space evenly on the baking sheet. Bake the cookies at 350ºF for 10 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Sugar-Mace Cookies
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground mace

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
Cream sugar and butter. Add egg, milk, and vanilla. Beat well.
Stir together flour, baking powder, mace, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Blend into creamed mixture. Divide in half. Cover and chill 1 hour.
On lightly floured surface, roll each half to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut with cookie cutters. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at for 7 to 8 minutes.
Yield: about 52 cookies

Game: Elephants and Horses
The sultan of Delhi had a huge army of a hundred thousand men mounted on elephants. Babur had only twelve thousand men, but they were mounted on quick horses. This game comes from The Story of the World Activity Book Two.  We found out that it is not really a good indoor game, but if you are studying this time period in the summer, this would be a good game to play outside.
You need 6 or more players for this game. You will need as many scarves as you have players. Choose two players to be the horses. The other players are the elephants. (Twice as many elephants as horses.) Have everyone tuck a scarf in their back pocket or wasitband. The horses are allowed to run normally but the elephants must hop on one foot by holding it with one of their hands. The only have the other hand free to catch a scarf. The object of the game is to remove all the scarves of the other team. Once all the scarves are removed from one of the teams, wins. Which is better...numbers or quickness?
Another activity is a sand painting project which can be found at The Tiger Chronicle.

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  • You might also be interested in Traveling Man, The Journey of Ibn Battuta, 1325-1354, James Rumford. This is a gorgeous book. Based on Ibn Battuta's own account of traveling from Morocco to China, from the steppes of Russia to the shores of Tanzania, is illustrated with pictures, maps and beautiful Arabic calligraphy. His trip was not many years after Marco Polo's journey.


  1. Great idea to use spices. I bet they smell as good as they look.

  2. Phyllis,
    How do you find all of your great ideas? I consider myself a fairly good 'searcher' but you just amaze me. Do you just do a google search on whatever you are looking for? Love the slippers!!

  3. No, I rarely Google search. I follow 300 wonderful and inspiring blogs. I will see a wonderful project on one that I want to do, so I will bookmark it and keep it in the back of my mind for when the most appropiate time would be. Most of the time, I will get to it...eventually.

  4. Those patterns are beautiful. I really like that idea. One of my new year's resolutions is to start eating more spices because they're so good for you.

  5. Well can I pick your brain? We are doing SOTW 1 and Apologia Zoology 3. Does anything just jump in your mind? I looked at your site for Greece things and couldn't find it. Thanks Phyllis, you are such an inspiration to me.

  6. Karen, Thank you for pointing out that my Greek History link was wrong. It is now fixed and you should be able to see all the Greek history posts. Here is the link, if you need it:
    For Zoology 3, we did a lot of nature study. Handbook of Nature Study blog is a great resource for this. Just look at the sidebar on the right for the animal you are studying.

  7. Thanks Phyllis!!! You are the best.

  8. I love their Rangoli patterns. Those are always so fun to make. Thank you for linking up this week.


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