Friday, September 3, 2021

Armenia Geography and Cultures Unit Study

We said “sayonara” to Japan and “parev” to Armenia. We started with our readings about Armenia from Children’s Atlas of God’s World and Passport to the World and answered the questions in MasterBooks’ Elementary Geography and Cultures workbook. We found Armenia on our map and each made an Armenian flag out of construction paper.

I found a free Google presentation on Teacher Pay Teachers that had embedded videos showing an overview of Armenian culture. From it we learned that all students in Armenia take Chess, so naturally we had to break out the chess boards and play some chess.

We also decided that we wanted to make some Lavash bread, or something as close to it as we could being that we are gluten free. A google search led me to Unicorns in the Kitchen's Easy Lavash Bread Recipe. I substituted Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free 1:1 Baking Flour, and even though it did not rise as much as regular flour, I think the recipe worked quite well. 

We then brushed the Lavash with some olive oil and garlic, added some cheese and tomatoes, and baked it for our own Armenian inspired pizza lunch. It was a huge hit with the kiddos.

We read two Armenian folktales with great lessons. Once There Was and Was Not is a great story warning against envy and encouraging sharing, hard work, and reaping what you sow. 

If your kiddos are complaining about why they have to do school, a Weave of Words holds the answer. It is a tale of a lazy prince that learns to read, write, and weave. In doing so he not only wins love but it also saves his life. 

Inspired by the illustrations in the book and other examples of classic Armenian illustrated letters, the children illustrated their initials.

I did not want to leave Armenia without studying the Armenian Genocide. As much as we would like to hide some of the monstrosities of the past, I believe it is important to study and discuss the past with our children. I chose the book Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian as a family read aloud to base our discussions of this time period off of. It is the story of Vahan Kenderian, a wealthy Armenian boy who grew up living a life of privilege until 1915 when everything is stripped from him. I often choose historical novels that are written through the eyes of a child, because I feel like it gives a more relatable experience. The Armenian genocide was a horrific time period. Adversity can either consume a person or make them stronger. Against all odds and with an incredible strength and will, Vahan survives and is stronger (like steel as he says). The recommended reading age for this book is 14-17, which is typically the age group I choose from when deciding on historical novels to read aloud to the entire family. However, you should know that this book is graphic and descriptive when describing the horrors Vahan and his family faced, so discretion is advised. There were some paragraphs that I chose to summarize as "she/he was assaulted" when reading it aloud to our children. I reminded our children as we read to "look for the helpers" (as Mr. Rogers would say) and to be mindful of the blessings. 

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