This week, our history studies focused on ancient India. One of the things we learned about was the mysteriously abandoned city of Mohenjo-Daro, located in what is now Pakistan. The city was quite progressive and modern for its’ time, featuring a grainary to process harvested grain, a sewage system that included toilets and drains and a host of buildings that were populated by thousands of people. The city’s ruins indicate it was abandoned suddenly but the reason why remains a mystery. Natural disaster? Invasion by enemies? Unfortunately, the documents left by the people there have been unable to be translated to date.
We built our own version of Mohenjo-Daro this week, one of the activities in the Story of the World Activity Guide. The buildings in Mohenjo-Daro were made of brick.
I purchased a box of terra cotta colored clay at the craft store (less than $10.00). It was conveniently shaped into a giant square so we didn’t have to roll it out. I sliced it into approximately one inch thick slices with a large kitchen knife and placed each slice on a piece of wax paper on our craft trays.
Then I gave each child a pizza cutter to further cut the clay slabs into little bricks. For my 5 year old, I lightly drew lines on the slab of clay and she followed them along with the pizza cutter. My 7 year old did pretty well cutting straight lines by sight.
We placed the trays of bricks out in the sun to dry for several hours. That may have been more time than needed, but we were going out for the remainder of the day, so we left them out until we returned. When we came back, we found them all nicely baked.
I was ready with glue so the kids could adhere the bricks together but it seemed more fun to just play with them. And now we have a bowl full of them that can be used to build or sketch with. Seems like a good thing to have on hand to keep the toddler busy as well.
Story of the World, Volume 1, Chapter 9, The First Cities of India