Friday, August 27, 2010

Hands on History - Cuneiform Tablets

Okay, I'm a history geek. So of course, that's my favorite subject to teach the kids. I love the curriculum we're using, The Mystery of History, written by homeschool mom Linda Hobar. It's thorough without getting bogged down in minute details that bore students. And it's written from a Christian viewpoint, so it's easy to relate what we already know from the Bible to history.

This week we've been studying events after the Noahic flood. The first civilization to have a written language was the Sumerian empire. Their form of writing is known as cuneiform, or "wedge writing" because of the wedge-shaped instruments they used to carve symbols in clay tablets. Sumerian students had to learn over 600 symbols in order to read! My kids are VERY thankful that our alphabet contains only 26 letters!

We decided to make our own cuneiform tablets. I had some Sculpey modeling clay in my art supplies, so that's what we used. We simply flattened a lump of clay using the bottom of a jar to make a tablet. Using the ends of pencils and paint brushes, we carved our own designs in the clay.

I baked the tablets at 250 degrees for about 30 minutes so they would harden. After they cooled completely, we painted them with watered down brown paint to give them an aged look.

We left the tablets to dry overnight. Turned out nicely, I think.

While the kids had fun, they both agreed that school would take WAY too long if they had to carve every assignment into clay and bake it! They'll stick with paper and pencil.


  1. Those are cool! :)

  2. Very nice! I'm glad you do fun projects to teach history. I teach history at the college level, and so many kids hate it because they were never encouraged to have fun with it when they were young.

  3. I remember making these in art class in elementary school!