I like to encourage a love of reading in my children by making it more interesting and applicable to real-life. Of course we enjoy fairy tales and fiction, but we also enjoy non-fiction and learning about the world. We’re living here on the Emerald Isle, but we can still learn so much about the world through books. Today we’re sharing their experience with Sailing Down The Nile.
I really love the way authors and illustrators can create interesting stories that hold the attention of young children and also have something to be learned. Barefoot Books are great for this. They tell a story and at the end of the book there is additional information and activities that can enhance the learning experience.
We’re Sailing Down The Nile
In We’re Sailing Down The Nile: A Journey through Egypt, children will learn about market towns, cities, museums, pharaohs, and pyramids. The story is written in rhyme, and the illustrations are simple and colourful. After the main story is a map with additional information about each of the places that were passed while sailing down the Nile. A little about the history of Egypt and the social groups of ancient Egypt are also explained, as well as jobs, and other interesting information.
Our activity for this book was to turn the children into potters and have them create beautiful pots and pendants using an easy white clay dough recipe.
Recipe for White Clay Dough
- 1/2 Cup Corn Flour/Corn Starch
- 1 Cup Bicarbonate of Soda/Baking Soda
- 3/4 Cup of cold water
- Mix the dry ingredients together in a pot and then add the water.
- Stir together over a medium heat on the stove until it starts to bubble and pulls away from the sides of the pot. If you’ve made playdough, it will have a similar consistency.
- Remove the pot from the heat and let the dough cool for a while.
- Take the dough out of the pot and knead it until it is nice and soft. This dough will keep until you are ready to use it if you keep it in an air-tight container.
- You can either let your dough air-dry, but since there’s so much humidity in Northern Ireland I dried the ornaments in the oven at about 100C for a little more than an hour. Just a friendly reminder here to be sure to set your oven timer…when there are children around it’s too easy to become distracted and come back to over-baked relics!
I had thought it would be fun to colour the dough with some food colouring, just as we do with play dough. This would make it nice and bright just like the turquoise colours that the Egyptians enjoyed so much. However, as the dough cooked, the colour faded drastically and our dough was a light grey. It was still usable, just not pretty as I’d originally envisioned it.
We’re Sailing Down The Nile Crafts
We read We’re Sailing Down The Nile again before the children started their project. Books and crafts are two ways in which our family really bonds. We love to get creative and imaginative!
For this project the children made bowls and pendants. Tristan also made a jug. His carefully constructed handle didn’t stay on, but he fixed that with a little glue after it was painted.
They learned how to make bowls by first making a ball, pressing a thumb into it, and then pulling the sides up and out to create a solid form. They were mesmerised last summer when they watched a potter at work, and they were happy to try this ancient skill themselves.
The children didn’t mind that the dough didn’t hold its colour. In fact, this just added to their fun as they could now get out their liquid paints and have some more creative fun. They chose two blues, gold, and copper. They made sure to cover all of the surfaces, and came back on another day to get everything just right.
The bowls will make lovely decorations or ring holders, and the pendants will be worn with pride around town and be a reminder of what they have learned, and give the children a new culture to learn about when we’re at the library.
Yes, we had a few difficulties when doing this project, but that didn’t stop the children from having fun. Honestly, this is a very simple craft; we just had other things on our mind. One great thing about children and crafting is that they are very easy-going and they’re able to imagine new ways of doing things, which is just what life is all about. If everything always went to plan the world would be an uninteresting place and there wouldn’t be any need to escape into a book after a hard day.
Have fun exploring new books and activities with your children!