We did our Stonehenge lesson over a couple of weeks, as we had never covered it before and I wanted to learn a bit more about it! I found an excellent couple of story books which describe different aspects of Stonehenge. They were my starting point to lots of lovely hands on activities 🙂
I read the actual lesson from the Mystery of History textbook first, and asked the girls to read the picture books by themselves during quiet time. They enjoyed them so much, and I felt each taught such a lot, that I read them aloud to the girls as well.
The Secrets of Stonehenge
The Secrets of Stonehenge is a book full to the brim of historical facts, alongside some great illustrations. It isn’t a storybook per se but more of a how-to book to Stonehenge. It is very interesting and the illustrations were interesting enough to keep both girls fully interested and engaged, as well as helping them to picture slightly harder historical facts.
Archer, Journey to Stonehenge
Archer, Journey to Stonehenge is the fascinating possible story of the so called Amesbury Archer, whose grave is to be found close to Stonehenge. A book, which is also jam packed full of facts, is cartoon in nature and very much a story book. It relays facts of the living conditions, clothes and general life of those peoples living around 2300BC. Many of the activities I did with the girls were inspired by this story and its pictures. At the end of the book there is a few fact pages which brings together the rest of the book and its place in history. A GREAT addition to any homeschool library!
The main research the girls did was to read the excellent resources found on the English Heritage Stonehenge website. These were so full of interesting information and included maps, nearby sites of interest and realistic illustrations. They really helped the girls feel like they were back in the days when Stonehenge was being built.
I also created some Stonehenge note pages which included other megalithic structures to look up. The girls then used Abigail’s kindle and researched it all by themselves:
Stonehenge: Art Study – Beaker Pots
I also created a Beaker Pottery note page for the girls which describes how to make their own Beaker Pottery (feel free to print it yourself). The girls, whilst enjoying the activity, found getting the bell shape very difficult.
First they rolled the clay into strips:
Then coiled it:
After a pot had been formed (very un-bell-like!), the sides were smoothed:
And then decorated (the girls chose to use Lillie’s clay modelling tools instead of string):
Here are the pots drying, before being painted:
Once dry they were painted:
The finished product:
And here is the note page ready to go into their folder:
Stonehenge: Food and Drink
The Secrets of Stonehenge book gave us lots of ideas of food the people of this time would have eaten. As it was Christmas and fresh unshelled nuts are easily obtainable, I went for them and some blackberries:
I wanted them to appreciate just how hard it would have been back then to shell the nuts and obtain a decent amount of nut for their trouble. I had the girls try with a mortar and pestle (our two big rock equivalents):
They both found this hard, and we were surprised by the lack of nut obtained at the end, as the nut was crushed along with the shell:
They then tried with a nut cracker and we compared the two:
Needless to say the nut cracker was easier and produced more edible nut.
Stonehenge: Tools and Arrowheads
We made some tools and arrowheads which would have been used during this timespan. These were simple to make and I describe how in the following post: How to Make Stonehenge Hand Tools
Here is a picture of an antler pick, a calf shoulder bone spade and some flint arrowheads:
Stonehenge: Dolls Dress Up
Inspired by the illustrations in Archer, Journey to Stonehenge, I made some simple clothes for the girls dolls:
I did a whole post on the subject, detailing exactly how I made everything – it was super easy! Click on the link below if you’d like to take a look:
Stonehenge: Clay and Paper Mache Model
I had planned this in my head weeks ago, but kept putting it off as I thought it might be too tricky for us to actually achieve. Well, it certainly wasn’t plain sailing as I completely misjudged the size of the blocks in comparison the round grass ditch which surrounds the stones at Stonehenge. This meant we had to wing it a bit, which in all honesty is what I do most of the time anyway 🙂
Making the Landscape of Stonehenge
The first thing we did was use paper mache to form the ditches which surround Stonehenge. I marked them out and the girls filled them in:
This was my first mistake – Stonehenge lies central to the ditches which meant that for my model to work I would have had to make tiny, tiny rocks. But that would only have happened if I had noticed that small fact. I didn’t, so in comparisons my megaliths really were mega!
Anyway, the next thing the girls did was to paint the whole sheet of card, ditches and all a mixture of three or four types of green. They kind of splodged it on to imitate the varying colour of grass:
Making the Stones of Stonehenge
Meanwhile, I was chopping megaliths… I used information I found online to help me approximate the proportions of blue stone to Sarson stone. I cut them using a knife and I labelled them (with very bad spelling) and let them dry atop the radiator:
Making the Structure of Stonehenge
Unfortunately, once I had the rocks next to the grasses circular ditch it didn’t take a genius to notice that there was no way those stones were getting into that space. The stones were still a little soft and I was able to make some adjustments to make it work. Still, there should be a lot more green around the structure 🙁
I know Stonehenge was only one lesson from the Mystery of History text book, but it is such an interesting topic we went a bit nuts. Happy nuts though!