Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Homeschool History: A Cookie and Jello Map of Ancient Greece

The kids made this cookie and Jello map of Ancient Greece as an introductory overview of the geography of Ancient Greece, although it would work just as well--even better, perhaps!--as a culminating project. Looking at photos of the cookie map now, a few weeks after the kids did it, I can immediately see some places--Mycenae! Thera!--that we didn't label but have since studied, and a couple of places--Troy! Sparta!--that the kids have had to look up the location of again, since it didn't stick. But back then we were more concerned with the location of places like Thrace and Macedonia, and the kids DO remember where those places are after this activity, so there you go.

We've made cookie maps of geographical locations many times before, so that part of the process is fairly cut-and-dried for the kids now. They can independently roll out the dough, carefully cut the map out with the tip of a sharp knife, peel up the unwanted dough, and bake it, watching it carefully to remove smaller pieces before they burn.

But unlike other maps that we've made before, Ancient Greece has tons of islands, the placement of which I wanted to secure in the final map. And I wanted something to represent the sea, something that was NOT icing... shudder. I had the idea of blue Jello, but I wasn't sure that it would work. I shopped it around to some of my mom friends at our weekly homeschool playgroup, and they weren't sure that it would work, either, but they gave me the idea to freeze the baked cookie map before adding the Jello, in hopes that the map wouldn't absorb all of that liquid before it could set.

It worked only okay, but that was enough for us!

The blue that you see all over the cookies isn't from the Jello being absorbed by the cookie, although it was, a little--that's from us slopping the liquid Jello all over the darn thing while trying to move it and get it settled in the refrigerator. Next time, I'll probably clear a shelf in the fridge (and good luck to me on THAT!), then have the kids pour the Jello in after it's stable.

We also didn't notice until Syd was trying to pour the Jello in and kept running out, but that giant half-sheet baking pan that I've had since the first time the kids asked for a themed birthday party is not perfectly flat anymore. Is any pan that large EVER perfectly flat? It looks flat, but every time Syd poured, the Jello would settle in the Aegean Sea, leaving next to nothing for the Ionian Sea. You can see it in the photo--the Aegean Sea has all the Jello, while the Ionian Sea has just a hint.

Regardless, even a hint of ocean was enough for our purposes. Time for decorating!

As you can see, we're still benefiting from the map coloring lesson in Math Labs for Kids, as the kids used the greedy algorithm to color in the kingdoms of Ancient Greece. Syd also made labels for most of the important locations--

--and they were added to the map with much fanfare and even more candy decorations:

The finished map is certainly one to be proud of!

We'll be seeing some of these places during our trip to Greece later this summer, when it'll be even sweeter to see them in person than it was to eat them!

P.S. Here are some of the other cookie maps that we've made over the years:


Tina said...

I love your cookie maps!

julie said...

They are extremely unhelpful to my desire to avoid sugar-added foods, but they are extremely helpful to the kids' desire to eat as many sugar-added foods as possible!