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

Medieval Africa (400-1500)

{Previous entry on this history, (the Vandals) The Barbarian Kingdoms }

Conquerors of North Africa
The Berbers of North Africa west of Egypt consisted of many differing tribes. Some Berbers were Christians some were Jewish, and some adhered to their ancient polytheist religion. The Arabs were determined to take North Africa regardless of its wealth or poverty, because there were people to be converted to Islam, and because North Africa was a gateway to Spain and on to the rest of Europe. In 702, the Muslim army invaded again and the Berber lands were quickly defeated resulting in the conversion of many Berber people to the Islam faith.
The rise of the Ghana Empire paralleled the increase in trans-­‐Saharan trade. Mediterranean economies were short of gold but could supply salt, taken by places like the African salt mine of Taghaza, whereas West African countries had plenty of gold but
needed salt. Salt was cut into blocks in the mine, making it easy to carry. We used the blocks from Don't Break the Ice game for our salt blocks. Southern Africa was filled with gold. The traders traveled north through the African kingdom of Mali. We made gold nuggets by spray painting rocks with gold spray paint. You could glue on gold glitter instead.

Moroccan Yellow Chicken 
This authentic Moroccan recipe comes from Creative Jewish Mom.
This dish was not too popular with the kids because it was spicy, but Katie loved it.
Slice garlic and place in the bottom of shallow pot. Place washed chicken pieces in the pot right side up. Either pour a mixture of about 2 tblsp. turmeric and 1/2 cup oil (olive or canola) over the chicken, or for a healthier though less authentic version, rub turmeric over the skins, using a touch of oil if necessary. DO NOT ADD WATER! With the top on the pot cook on a very very low flame for about 1 1/2 hours or until chicken looks nicely cooked. Baste with juices from the pot when possible. Once the chicken is cooked thoroughly, now is the time to add the vegetable portion of the dish. Here I used sliced fennel, but you can also use peas, peas and mushrooms, just mushrooms, or zucchini. Place the vegetables on top of the chicken, add a small amount of water to the pot (about 1/4") and bring to a boil. Turn down flame to low and cook until vegetables are tender but not overcooked! My Moroccan neighbor in Jerusalem used to add a few yellow raisins to the pot for what she called a finger licking delicious result, and I like to add some parsley at the end to make the dish more appealing. For authentic Moroccan cooking this chicken would be served together with white or yellow rice, but you can feel free to break from tradition and serve it with mashed potatoes, couscous, or even pasta! For serving family style, place the chicken pieces in the center of a platter and spoon vegetables around the perimeter of the platter.

She also gives a recipe for a North African/Middle Eastern/Turkish spice mix, Baharat. Baharat simply means "spice" in Arabic. A traditional baharat mixture is used similarly to the way Indians use garam masala, or the Moroccans use rat el hanuot, and may even apparently be used as a final flavor booster after a meal has been prepared. This blend is often used to season lamb but I read that it is an all-purpose flavor enhancer useful for fish, chicken, beef, tomato sauces and soups, and that it’s a great addition to lentil dishes, pilafs and meatloaf. Or it can be used as a rub for virtually anything on the barbeque. It can be used for meatballs, tomato sauce over pasta and grilled chicken.
2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tbsp paprika
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tbsp ground cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Cities of East Africa
Batik is a technique where paint is blocked out in certain areas. Layers of Learning shows how to use rubber cement to make an easy batik. Here's what you'll need:
Water color paints
paint brushes
rubber cement

First, paint a simple shape on the paper using the rubber cement. Let it dry. (It's quick!) Now use the watercolors and paint over the whole paper, covering every inch, including where you painted the rubber cement. You can use just one color or lots of different colors. Let the paint dry. Once it's dry, rub the rubber cement and peel it off.
photo from Seven+1

Seven +1 shows us another type of easy batik can be made with flour paste.  She has beautiful step-by-step instructions with photos, but I will outline the steps here as well. First wash your fabric and then sketch your design on the fabric. Make a paste of 3 to 1 flour and water and then outline your sketch with it. They used a plastic bag with the corner cut out to spread the flour paste. I imagine that a pastry bag would work too. This is left to dry. Once dry you can use fabric paints to make beautiful bright patterns on the cloth. Once the paint is dry, you peel off the flour paste and iron the paint to set.

Kingdoms of West Africa
The West African kingdoms became rick from the gold and salt trade. Although they had little gold and salt of their own, they taxed traders that passed through their kingdoms.

Fast Tax Game
Place 12 pieces of gold in a bowl at one end of the house. Place 12 salt blocks in a a bowl at the other end of the house. Have a older person stand half-way between the two locations with a timer. The goal of the game is to have the fewest points. Points are subtracted by successfully transporting blocks of salt and nuggets of gold.  You start with 20 points. For every gold nugget you successfully place in the salt bowl, subtract 1 point. For every salt nugget you place in the gold bowl, subtract 1 point. For every 20 seconds of time you take, add 2 points. You are only allowed to carry 2 salt /gold nuggets at a time. If you take the direct route from the gold bowl to the salt bowl, you must pay 1 gold/salt nugget to the older person. You can take a long route around the house to avoid paying the tax. Have the older person time you. When you have finished placing all the gold nuggets in the salt bowl and the salt blocks in the gold bowl, yell "stop!" Tally your points. Can you better you score? How? Which way is better?
We found them to be just about the same.

Another activity is this yummy fruit salad recipe at Talking to Myself.

Explorer Bartolomeu Dias (1457-1500)  
In 1488, Bartolomeu Dias  led the first European expedition to sail around Africa's Cape of Good Hope, leaving Tagus, Portugal in 1487. This breakthrough of circumnavigating the Cape of Good Hope opened up lucrative trading routes from Europe to Asia.
map from Enchanted Learning


  1. Wow!! All of this looks like great fun! We've never tried doing batik before, but I have it on our to-do list and can't wait to give it a go!

  2. Hey, thank for the link. The salt and gold game looks like fun! We'll have to try it.

  3. I love how you get so much into your studies! Thank you for linking this post up this week.


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