Our Fun Week with the Trojan Horse

This week has been our  fun week which we have at the end of each of our four week terms.  During a fun week we still accomplish lots of learning by going back to a culture we have studied in the past and looking at some aspect of it in greater depth.  This week we revisited Ancient Greece, concentrating on The Trojan War and more particularly the Trojan Horse.  It’s been a really good week, lots of fun and lots of exploring new ideas.  The one thing I have particularly noticed is that the older children are naturally contributing to the fun weeks according to their strengths.  Whilst they are all willing to give anything ago, they have shown great teamwork by getting tasks or activities done using the skills of each individual.  It’s good to see.

First, we recounted the story of the Trojan War and the horse that won it for the Greeks.  It was a useful topic to focus on.  The Trojan horse does not appear in the Iliad and is only alluded to in the Odyssey.  However it is described in-depth in Virgil’s Aeneid, which we studied during our time in Ancient Rome.  This was therefore, an exercise bringing together knowledge from a couple of past literature studies.

I had two art goals for the week.  One was to experiment with plaster cast bandaging to make a Trojan Horse, The other was to do a picture study.

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The children making their horses
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And two of the resulting horses. There were lots of jokes going around that C9’s looked like a drowning horse, as it had no legs and she called it her Chinese horse – to this day we’re not sure why!!
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T10 and his horse

We studied this picture (the earliest known depiction of the Trojan horse):

L10 immediately recognised it as a raised relief.  We had learned about these during our Mesopotamia and Egyptian studies.  I asked them whether this was primary or secondary evidence – they all knew it was primary.  In fact Michael Wood uses this picture and it’s dating to prove that the story of the Trojan war was around long before it was written down by Homer.  I gave them each a chunk of clay and asked them to replicate it:

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Drawing the outline
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Beginning to carve away the area surrounding the horse
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Raised relief is when the picture itself is raised above its surroundings
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Trojan horse reliefs waiting to dry for painting
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L10’s painted
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C10’s painted
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T10’s painted

We discussed what the Trojan Horse actually was, and what it now represents; we talked about the Trojan Horse as a destructive application on a computer that in appearance is a harmless or even useful application.  I mentioned that it could also be used to describe an attack of some kind disguised as a gift to fool.  I told them about  emails that are sent to lure us to give personal details with the promise of much monetary reward and even went back to discuss whether or not the amusement arcades, part of our living maths study, could be termed a ‘Trojan Horse’.   I encouraged them to think of a literary term that could describe the use of a Trojan Horse now.  L10 said a simile.  We reviewed what a simile was and all three shouted it was a metaphor not a simile!  I then asked whether ‘Trojan Horse’ could be described as a kenning for a dangerous gift.  We had learnt all about Kennings whilst studying Beowulf.  They agreed it probably could.  C9 pointed out that it would only work as a kenning if those hearing the term knew about its history.  Do I know whether it is a kenning or not?  Nope (my guess is not quite), but I LOVE having the children think about things and hearing their opinions!!

T10, at the beginning of the week came up with the idea of reenacting the Trojan horse part of the Trojan war.  Unfortunately we couldn’t think of anything we owned that could represent the horse.  Ideas started flying about what we could use, and this is what they came up with:

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Yes, it’s a Trojan Elephant!  We wondered if there would have been elephants in Turkey, we did a bit of research and found that remains of elephants have been found dating back to 100BC, when they became extinct.  We decided to go ahead.  C9, our natural writer wrote the play of the Trojan Elephant, T10 designed the elephant to hold men and to move on wheels and L10, our resident chef, took A4 in the kitchen to make an elephant cake as a treat after the showing.  Actually the cake was eaten way before the reenactment, and was delicious!

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The Trojan elephant cake before icing
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L10 icing
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And the completed cake, with embellishments such as the box to hide the soldiers in (as designed by her brother!)
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The children and the reenactment of the Trojan Horse, er elephant!

I had a comprehension exercise for them to do, which we all went through orally.  This was a good move, as T10, who hates writing, was able to participate thoroughly instead of thinking of the quickest way of putting his answers to reduce the writing!  They all agreed this was a great way of learning:

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The passages from the Odyssey, Aeneid and Trojan Women
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The comprehension questions we chatted through

C10 really enjoys writing and the writing task on Monday was for the children to pretend they were one of the soldiers in the Trojan Horse and describe what they were thinking.  Here is C10’s paragraph:

I felt a strange shiver down my spine; we were on our way to Troy.  The shiver could have be down to the nervous excitement that was locked within me.  As we rumbled to a stop just outside Troy, my stomach twisted into a knot and my heart skipped a beat.  The sweat from the soldier next to me mingled with mine.  I was impatient, ready to kill anything in my path.  The tough leather armour that I wore, hardened by battle, made me hot, sticky and ever so stuffy.  I was panting, gasping for air.  I squinted and looked on the other side of the hollow horse we were in.  The men passed around water, but that was a long way from me.

‘Rumble, rumble!’  We were on the move again, this time into Troy.  We stopped.  I fidgeted with anticipation.  Silence.  Suddenly, with a mighty thud, the latch door opened and I went to meet my victory!

I LOVE reading C10’s work.  Her imagination never fails to put a smile on my face!

Last but not least our fun project: the board game (we haven’t thought of a name yet!).  I’ll do a full post on it next week but here is a peek preview, Trojan horse and all!.  We’re quite pleased!!
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The children read the following books as planned:

And I read aloud this one, omitting the language I was unhappy about:

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And finally we watched as a family these two films:

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Looking back we achieved loads, yet it didn’t seem like we were hard at work!  Just as we like it!!

21 comments

    1. Not a thick question at all! It took me about 7 years to find a silver, gold, bronze and copper paint I liked. It’s Reeves acrylic fine artist quality paint. I bought it from Amazon in a pack of four (75ml tubes) for about £8. Relatively speaking quite costly, but you only need a tiny bit- they are that good. I’ve had mine for over a year and we’ve only used half of each tube- and we do lots of activities with them.

  1. I agree with one other comment. Can I send my two to yours for home schooling as they would have such fun. Need your passion Claire for home schooling. Your children will have such amazing memories!xo

  2. What wonderful activities! We touched on the Trojan Horse/War last week too, but can’t wait to sit on this more next year! I’m super impressed by the board game as well… hand crafted horse and all! 🙂 Great Week!

  3. We have been studying the Ancient Greeks all year too. It looks like you got really involved with horses and paper mache. It looks like some fun activities.

    Here is my post on the Trojan War and the other link is to the rest of our Greek activities. It’s funny, because we also created a board game. It will be posted in a few weeks, but I really like the look of yours.
    http://highhillhomeschool.blogspot.com/2012/11/ancient-greek-history-co-op-week-5.html
    http://highhillhomeschool.blogspot.de/search/label/Ancient%20Greece

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