The New World.. the Old World met.. It was not all about Columbus!! How About those Spices

We are getting ready to “celebrate ?” Columbus Day.


Most people have not been lucky enough to get a good perspective on what happened when the two worlds met. I was a teacher learner at the Smithsonian when the Quincentennial happened and in planning, they dug deeply into history that few of us were taught. Teachers in the Metropolitan DC area were involved in the workshops and the planning. We worked with Julie Margolis.


The main book we used to form ideas was “The Columbian Exchange:Biological and Cultural Consequences of 1492. We had lots of other books, and activities and even a garden that was on the museum grounds and on the grounds of a school.( Some of the research papers we studied were included in the book that became the exhibit handbook..

What is Black History

This student is searching for home, which for her is South Africa

Dr. Herman J. Viola , a curator emeritus at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History also gave us several workshops. He , a specialist on the history of the American West,  served as director of the Museum’s National Anthropological Archives in addition to organizing two major exhibitions for the Smithsonian. “Magnificent Voyagers” told the story of the United State Exploring Expedition of 1838-42, and “Seeds of Change” exhibit which we are referencing here, he examined the exchange of plants, animals, and diseases between the Old and the New Worlds as a result of the Christopher Columbus voyages of discovery.

Columbus, we are told, was no heroic “discoverer” of a New World; as some now see it, he was a villain who pillaged and polluted another old one. At the very least, some say this was not a “discovery.” The approved word for the year of 1992 was “encounter.” There is a whole other discussion on the origins of the maps and the history of map making.

Also, strike the term “celebration.” Many Native Americans viewed the Columbus Quincentenary as more properly an occasion to mourn the destruction of their civilizations. The golden mean, that was taught by the Smithsonian Institution, was the neutral idea of “commemoration.”

The Smithsonian’s “Seeds of Change” exhibition was a marker to think differently about the two world coming together in – the largest ever mounted display by the National Museum of Natural History – it did not focus on Columbus himself, although it refers to his voyages and contained quotations from his journals.

Here is a different take on what Columbus was looking for. Can you say spices?

Do you know that this is a different way of thinking about why Columbus went to the “Indies”

And here is a map0d0ae1e3-f061-4e7e-a9ee-348d1bdd6992

The theme of the “Seeds of Change” at the Smithsonian was the biological and cultural exchanges that transformed two old worlds into one new one – a popularization of ideas introduced two decades ago by historian Alfred W. Crosby Jr. in his book.

There is a darker view of Columbus , presented here.. Everyone does not agree about the cultural exchange and encounter.

                                                Elements of Change

Often discussed were the horse, tomato, potato, corn and disease. ( tobacco was not mentioned, Slavery was inserted).

The five ``seeds`` that Columbus sowed on both sides of the Atlantic with his voyages to the new world that were presented were  sugar, corn, the potato, disease and the horse, Margolis told us.

“The transfer of these items changed the world,“ Corn, for example, was unknown to Columbus and the rest of the world.


In 1493, when corn was first exported to Europe, people there fed it to livestock, thinking it unfit for human consumption. But by 1700, corn became a staple, especially in Africa, where it contributed to a population growth that in turn fed the slave trade to America. Think sugar cane, rum, and the triangle of slavery.



The horse, too was depicted, as a seed of change when the Spanish used it to conquer the Americas. Horses roamed America in prehistoric times, but were killed off during the Ice Age; Columbus reintroduced them to the New World, to which they were well adapted.Horses, for example, are depicted as having increased Indian wealth and leisure time, while inspiring an array of crafts and clothing. But their use by Indian societies also is said by some to have promoted contact, competition and warfare among tribes.


.The Tomato

Margolis pointed out to us that Italian cuisine with its tomato sauces could not have come into being without the American tomato brought back to Europe by Columbus. A 6- by 8-foot sculpture was in the exhibit, “Spaghetti Meets Tomato,“ by artist Roark Gourley of Laguna Beach, Calif., shows a whimsical, climbing tomato plant towering over a red-and-white checked tablecloth and an array of common Italian-American dishes.“`Spaghetti Meets Tomato


“I had tried different things, none of which I liked,” Gourley said. “I had a food fight between Columbus and a kid that didn’t work out. I kept tinkering with it until the idea of spaghetti and tomato, which is so simple, hit me.”The finished piece looked to be constructed entirely of food, but is deceptively intricate in its design. The spaghetti noodles are made of a resin-glossed clothes line, the cheese of sliced-up rubberbands and rice made of real spaghetti noodles

When we visited we had a list of the foods from the New World and a list of Old World Food.

It was fun to make a menu using only foods from one list.

For other readings that cast a different light on the importance of the Columbian Voyages read this book ” Precious Cargo” The Author says

“The discovery of the Americas was a watershed event for food that forever changed history and triggered unforeseen advances in agriculture, enterprise, and commerce that allowed the development of the modern world. Admittedly, this progress came with horrendous problems, like slavery and the destruction of indigenous societies and species, but I don’t believe it serves any useful purpose to make moral judgments about historical events. The purpose of Precious Cargo, is simply to tell the many stories of how and why western hemisphere foods and crops conquered the rest of the world and saved it from not only culinary boredom, but mass starvation as well”

The Tomato History has origins traced back to the early Aztecs around 700 A.D; therefore it is believed that the tomato is native to the Americas. It was not until around the 16th century that Europeans were introduced to this fruit when the early explorers set sail to discover new lands. Throughout Southern Europe, the tomato was quickly accepted into the kitchen, yet as it moved north, more resistance was apparent. The British, for example, admired the tomato for its beauty, but believe that it was poisonous, as its appearance was similar to that of the wolf peach.

Sugar cane is viewed more harshly still. As visitors enter the darkened section devoted to this fifth “seed,” they suddenly find themselves in the simulated hold of a slave ship. Originally brought from Europe, sugar cane grew even better in the Caribbean, where its production for European use stimulated the slave trade and caused the ravaging of the native terrain, the exhibition argues.

From virgin rain forests to sugar cane plantations, a diorama re-creating a slave dwelling and narration of an account of slave life by actress Whoopi Goldberg.


New World Foods: corn, potato, tomato, bell pepper, chili pepper, vanilla, tobacco, beans, pumpkin, cassava root, avocado, peanut, pecan , cashew, pineapple, blueberry, sunflower, petunia, black-eyed susan, dahlia, marigold, quinine, wild rice, cacao (chocolate), gourds, and squash.

Here is an indepth game to play to learn a lot more from the NMAI.

When Christopher Columbus arrived on the Bahamian Island of Guanahani (San Salvador) in 1492, he encountered the Taíno people, whom he described in letters as “naked as the day they were born.” The Taíno had complex hierarchical religious, political, and social systems. Skilled farmers and navigators, they wrote music and poetry and created powerfully expressive objects. At the time of Columbus’s exploration, the Taíno were the most numerous indigenous people of the Caribbean and inhabited what are now Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. By 1550, the Taíno were close to extinction, many having succumbed to diseases brought by the Spaniards. Taíno influences survived, however, and today appear in the beliefs, religions, language, and music of Caribbean cultures.

Had horses really been extinct in the Americas until Christopher Columbus shipped them there on his second voyage? they wanted to know.

And was it true that diseases imported by the explorers and conquistadors had decimated as much as 90 percent of the native population?

And why was tobacco not included I assume that it was not politically correct to tell about it.

TOBACCO: The Early History of a New World Crop
Hail thou inspiring plant! Thou balm of life,
Well might thy worth engage two nations’ strife;
Exhaustless fountain of Britannia’s wealth;
Thou friend of wisdom and thou source of health.
-from an early tobacco label

Tobacco, that outlandish weed
It spends the brain, and spoiles the seede
It dulls the spirite, it dims the sight
It robs a woman of her right.

-Dr. William Vaughn, 1617
As these two verses show, tobacco use has long been a controversial subject, considered by turns a vice, a panacea, an economic salvation and a foolish and dangerous habit. However, it was perceived, by the end of the seventeenth century tobacco had become the economic staple of Virginia, easily making her the wealthiest of the 13 colonies by the time of the American Revolution.

The Old World encountered tobacco at the dawn of the European Age of Exploration. On the morning of October 12, 1492, Christopher Columbus set foot on a small island in the Bahamas. Believing himself to be off the coast of Asia, the Admiral dressed in his best to meet the local inhabitants. The Arawaks offered him some dried leaves as a token of friendship. Those leaves were tobacco. A few days later, a party from Columbus’ ship docked off the coast of Cuba and witnessed local peoples there smoking tobacco through Y-shaped tubes which they inserted in their noses, inhaling smoke until they lost consciousness.


Disease– Controversial subject ….

The exhibition’s section on disease included fascinating pre-Columbian sculptures from Peru’s Moche culture, which for some reason (we never learn why) excelled in the depiction of medical deformities. There was a case devoted to the argument that, in an exception from the more common transfer of infections from East to West, syphilis may have been brought back to Europe by Columbus’ crew. No space, however, is allotted to countervailing theories, including the notion that Europeans might at one time have misdiagnosed syphilis as leprosy. Discussions continue about the effects of disease.


European exploration of tropical areas was aided by the New World discovery of quinine, the first effective treatment for malaria. Europeans suffered from this disease, but some indigenous populations had developed at least partial resistance to it. In Africa, resistance to malaria has been associated with other genetic changes among sub-Saharan Africans and their descendants that can cause sickle cell anemia.[1]:164

Before regular communication had been established between the two hemispheres, the varieties of domesticated animals and infectious diseases that jumped to humans, such assmallpox, were strikingly more numerous in the Old World than in the New. Many had migrated west across Eurasia with animals or people, or were brought by traders from Asia, so diseases of two continents were suffered by all occupants. While Europeans and Asians were affected by the Eurasian diseases, their endemic status in those continents over centuries resulted in many people gaining acquired immunity.

By contrast, “Old World” diseases had a devastating effect when introduced to Native American populations via European carriers, as the people in the Americas had no naturalimmunity to the new diseases. Measles caused many deaths. The smallpox epidemics are believed to have caused the largest death tolls among Native Americans, surpassing any wars[13] and far exceeding the comparative loss of life in Europe due to the Black Death.[1]:164 It is estimated that upwards of 80–95 percent of the Native American population died in these epidemics within the first 100–150 years following 1492. Many regions in the Americas lost 100%.[1]:165

Similarly, yellow fever is thought to have been brought to the Americas from Africa via the Atlantic slave trade. Because it was endemic in Africa, many people there had acquired immunity. Europeans suffered higher rates of death than did African-descended persons when exposed to yellow fever in Africa and the Americas, where numerous epidemics swept the colonies beginning in the 17th century and continuing into the late 19th century.

Debate on the origins of syphilis has been raging for centuries. New genetic evidence supports the theory that Christopher Columbus brought syphilis to Europe from the New World. According to the study, genetic analysis of the syphilis family tree reveals that its closest relative was a South American disease that causes yaws, an infection caused by a sub-species of the same bacterium. [14]

But wait.. there is more.. There was gold, and silver and huge Emeralds… there were ships that took that treasure to Spain. I certainly remember the Emeralds. Probably not as important  as the cocoa bean which made chocolate a choice commodity.

Why Don’t American Teachers know Much About Africa ( actually Geography?)

Bonnie Bracey Sutton

orienteeringSome teachers follow their interests and innovate. Some teachers have not had  geography that was taught as a part of their teacher preparation. Africa is perhaps more on the radar to learn about for teachers who teach in urban areas. We teach about Black History so there is that linkage. But the link to slavery might be uncomfortable for many.. In schools often what we teach is prescribed by curriculum. I taught then, the Gifted and Talented and multicultural  in a team teaching situation.

I learned using the Hilda Taba methods , I read Black History widely and then I was taught by the National Geographic Summer Institute. We  had lectures, lessons, presentations, films, and the emerging technologies. We learned from all of the divisions and we created and crafted lessons plans to share with the members of the Institute. We were taught the tenets of Geography.


Bonnie Bracey Sutton sharing Sunshine Online Books in the Languages of South Africa with Educators at an IEarn Conference.

I did get to work in Africa, in South Africa, Namibia, Tunisia, Egypt. I traveled to more countries than that. What was important was that I had the support of an administrator,and there were State Dept. parents , and  school board support and grant funding.

Resources available to me? The Alliances of the National Geographic Education Division, Earthwatch, The Smithsonian African Museum of Art, the anthropology division of the Smithsonian.The Kennedy Center Arts Edge.

There were people in map division who gave me maps, and in the book division who shared books and research. There was even a photographer who came to my class to share his work and to teach the children the work of being a photographer for the National Geographic.

We learned about map projections and had fun with the Upside Down Map. and the True map of Africa.

Kids were interested in the foods of Africa. Iron Pots and Wooden Spoons helped to teach that and we cooked a bunch of recipes in the classroom. Cooking is my hobby and so I had lots of cookbooks from various parts of Africa. ( Smithsonian Book Store)  Jollof Rice was the easiest to do within the school time on a hot plate. It was very good.

From working with the World Summit  on Media for Children I have wonderful videos.

National Geographic Education is a part of the National Geographic Education and Children’s Media division. The division as a whole creates best-in-class products, experiences, and programs that teach kids about the world and how it works, empowering them to make it a better place. We educate by sparking curiosity, imparting knowledge through storytelling, and empowering action. We support lifelong learning by providing opportunities for kids, families, and educators to join global communities, where they can connect, learn, create, and share. And we inspire the new generation of global citizens to discover the world’s past, celebrate its present, and protect its future.
National Geographic Education taught me to use geography . The resources are too vast to list.

There are lectures at the National Geographic where children , parents and I learned from the explorer and adventures themselves.

Did I forget to mention the magazines. I did.And music and dance and the evolution of slavery.

I teach that too.

I believe that the emphasis on testing excludes the choices to teach a rich content.

Here is what I was replying to.

I noticed historical reference to the partition  of Africa was not given.

Robert Pondiscio took a swipe at American teachers and what they teach or know about Africa. John Oliver is a comedian. Like Donald Trump I guess he is allowed to skewer every one because making people laugh is what he does. But Pondiscio is immersed in education, and should have been kind enough to point out that there has been pioneering work going on at a lot of places to help teachers learn, share and teach about Africa.


George Stuart , Frank Withrow and The Jason Project ( Studying the Maya)

monday 037

The Maya , My Students and Me


Learning About MesoAmerica –

When I was a very little girl, I found arrowheads in the dirt on my grandparents farm in Dinwiddie, Virginia. I used to have a collection of arrowheads and found some interesting ones while digging in the dirt. They were obsidian. No television, out there or stores out there so I started learning about the Indian trading routes of ancient times in archaeology books. Then I learned that there were cultures called the Maya, Aztecs and Toltecs. I chose to learn about the Maya because of the obsidian arrowheads that  were found so long ago.

I wanted to know how arrowheads were made, and I began reading about the properties of rocks and minerals. Although I did see some demonstrations of how to make arrowheads, I never really made but one. It was hard work. I saw a demonstration in a museum. I tried it at home. It did not work ,so I knew that I could not teach kids to do it. I needed the Anthropologists from the Smithsonian to confirm, share, document knowledge. All I had was a book, not even maps.

*Technology was available then and now. Many classrooms are at the low end of technology integration and these are tools which can be used and which are now free.

I am not speaking of the New Mexico Turquoise Trail. I am speaking of a Native American trading trail that started in Central America and eventually was a part of Virginia and other states. My young male cousins sold arrowheads to collectors, mine , when they could find them, to a collector. Back then 75cents was to them a lot of money. Sometimes I reburied my cache of arrowheads.

One day I found a purple and white oddly shaped artifact. I taped it around my ankle ( I told them I had sprained my ankle and escaped back to Northern Virginia with that one) but my mother probably thought it was a rock and it disappeared.

Later I saw that purple and white treasure of mine as a Mayan artifact, but I did not know much about the Maya or the other people of MesoAmerica. So, to the Smithsonian I went. There were some exhibits, art and anthro-notes to read from and there was a wonderful collection of books.- expensive books, posters and cultural pieces to purchase. I was teaching 5th grade. I knew Mexico as a country, as art, as food. But I wanted to teach from the point after Columbus landed.

I took a part time job as a Stewardess to see Maya lands.( so long ago)

Learning. Reading, Dreaming.

I did not have a lot of money as a school teacher.When Voyage of the Mimi came out Voyage 2. No one objected.

The science supervisor ignored it, the history department did not care.. so I co-opted to use it in the Talented and Gifted Program. Actually I borrowed it on pre-view first.I loved it and I told them so.

See here.

It is still available and quite interesting.

While seated at a dinner for National Geographic teacher fellows, I met George Stuart, and I did not know of his work. He asked me what interest I had in the Maya.. I began to tell him how I borrowed the “Voyage of the Mimi 2” and loved it so much.. but that I had to send it back ( too Expensive) He asked for my card. The very next week my class and I had not only the whole Voyage of the Mimi, games, maps, teacher edition and all.

At that time,Frank Withrow was the Secretary of Education who encouraged this program. and there was the Jason Project which let us be sophisticated about the lianes, caves, the jungle and the areas of the Maya( the geography of where they lived). We had a laster disc.

New Tools
Here is a interactive map of the Maya.


Drone Technology has allowed for more discoveries in the jungles. Here is a picture from Langunita.These are rediscovered cities.

ESRI allows students to do story maps , and that is a new way of using technology in learning. It is powerful.

The Second Voyage of the Mimi was a twelve-episode American educational television program depicting a fictional crew of a sailboat named the Mimi exploring Mayan ruins in Southern Mexico. Along the way, they learn a lot about ancient civilization and also attempt to foil the plans of looters who steal the artifacts from the ancient sites.

The series aired on PBS and was created by the Bank Street College Thisof Education in 1988 to teach middle-schoolers about science and social studies in an interesting and interactive way.

In each episode, viewers are taught something scientific relating to plot events in the previous episode of the show. For example, an episode’s plot would be about deciphering Mayan writing, and the viewer also receives information about how the Maya wrote various words and numbers.

Elementary school teachers will find more than just springboards for archeological lessons in The Second Voyage of the Mimi, but also springboards for lessons in writing techniques, social studies, linguistics and history. People talk about STEAM. We had even more than that. We had the elements of culture with resources, but it gets better than that.

National Geographic magazines have always been my passport to the rest of the world . Through them I became mesmerized with the ancient civilizations of America. Then I discovered the library. I love that library.

There was also Hilda Taba’s work. They were cards that you put in order to solve an ancient case study. I used them so effectively as we studied culture that a parent complained to my principal that she used to know who discovered America before I taught her child. I had to document differences from the 5th grade book. Oh boy was I in trouble at first!

I used it twice on loan, and while sitting at a dinner at National Geographic the program came into the conversation and I told them about it. Who knew that George Stuart was in on the program. He was sitting there, and he asked me for my school address. n

The five-hundredth anniversary of the first trans-Atlantic voyage of Christopher Columbus was coming 1992 in the United States.

The Smithsonian had a variety of exhibitions, public programs and scholarly publications to commemorate Columbus’ voyage to the Americas. All the programs and events highlighted the Quincentenary themes: (1) Magnificent Traditions, (2) Dynamic of the Encounter, (3) Continuity of the Encounter and (4) The Next 500 Years.

major Smithsonian Quincentenary programs such as exhibitions: “Seeds of Change”, “American Encounters”, “Where Next, Columbus”, “The West as America”, “Portraiture in the Reign of Philip II”, and the “Amazonia: The New World Explored on the Occasion of the Columbus Quincentenary”.


National Gallery of Art Loan Materials in Online Resources

Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration

Twenty objects illustrate artistic traditions and achievements from Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas around (circa) the year 1492, when European explorers created new links among continents.

The Circa 1492: Art in the Age of Exploration loan packet includes:

  • a 53-page booklet
  • 15 color study prints

a slideset with 20 works of art.


Seeds of Change

October 26, 1991 May 23, 1993

Museum: Natural History Museum

They focused on the horse, the potato, tomato, corn and disease and the resources are archived in the Smithsonian resources.
Disease and the horse had a dramatic impact on both continents. Indians in the Americas had no previous exposure to smallpox, measles, typhus or influenza, diseases carried to the New World by the explorers. The horse, which died out in the Americas during the Ice Age, was reintroduced by Columbus and played a significant role in the conquest and settlement of the lands.

Three food items, corn, potatoes and sugar, added variety and sustenance to diets worldwide after Columbus packed them in his return trip cargo. The exhibit depicts corn as an important dietary staple in Africa, Latin America and parts of Asia. Farmers in the Andes in South America cultivated thousands of species of potatoes, a crop that subsequently became an integral part of European, Soviet and Asian diets.

An intimate journey through a Montserrat sugar plantation explains the impact of the slave-driven trade. Viola estimates that it took the life of one slave to produce one ton of sugar.Exportation of sugar dramatically changed European lifestyles as desserts and pastries of all kinds were developed.

A wealth of historically inspired recipes were compiled for release in conjunction with the quincentennial observance.

The “Smithsonian Folklife Cookbook” documented the origins of traditional American recipes with anecdotes and family histories. Divided into regional sections, the book profiled local specialties, many based on two of the “seeds,” corn and potatoes.

The tradition of giving food to friends, as Columbus inadvertently did, was important to the livelihood of regional cooks, explains cookbook authors Katherine and Tom Kirlin.

“These are the kinds of people who would gladly feed the whole world if they could just find a kitchen big enough,” Katherine added.

Examined the exchange of plants and seeds between the Old and New Worlds following Columbus’s discovery of America in 1492. Themes include the introduction of horses, sugar, and disease to the New World and the introduction of potatoes and corn to the Old World. Introductory film, on first floor, runs continuously.

The Office of Folklife Programs organized events such as the Festival of American Folklife “living exhibitions” which featured “The Caribbean: Cultural Encounters in the New World” (June/July 1989), the Festival’s 1991 and 1992 features of the indegenous populations of the Americas, focusing on cultures of the rainforests, Andean Highlands, Valley, Desert, Northwest Coast, Woodlands and Pinenut gathering cultures, also the symposia, “Seeds of the Past” (1988), “Seeds of Commerce” (1989), and “Seeds of Industrialization” (1990), including Folklife Programs in collaboration with Smithsonian Folkways Records of music and verbal arts, Smithsonian Quincentenary radio programs highlighted living cultural exhibitions,there were teacher-training workshops and exhibition program books; and a Quincentenary multi-cultural curriculum which was five-units *bilingual

The Creativity Revolution , Some of Us were Integrating Art into Science Long Ago

Teachers and professors on the tour

A lot of people who never entered a classroom that I used to teach in, began to chastise me about inserting art into my curriculum. When I stopped laughing, because my side hurt, I started to tell them that the insertion of art, and STEM is how I start to teach.

What is Black History

This student is searching for home, which for her is South Africa

The Winds of Politics changes education. Sadly it can keep creativity out.
NCLB, etc.

Initially .for a long time I was privileged to be a teacher of the gifted. Because I am of color, I always added a few more students to my class who were minority, immigrant or special ed. Why? Think about it. Never did I want to walk through a class of 75 kids in a team when I only had 15 students. Never did I want to exclude minority kids.

Some of my best students were the children who were given to me who were not considered to be G and T. So what you need to know is that innovation, creativity and problem solving can be taught to all. Technology allows us to do many things, but the powers in education do not let most teachers develop their skills in personalizing education.The way in which I teach cannot be done in many cases because it is complicated. It depends on a belief in a teacher and staff development.

What was funny was that teachers always gave me the children they thought were a problem, in fact most people considered gifted and talented students to be a problem because they were innovative, curious, asking questions and wanting to fly through the work.

Thinking about Ancient Egypt

I have turned my room into Ancient Egypt.. with mummies and inscribed walls.This was a beautiful room, with books , movies , digital information on Egypt. There was at one time a web site entitled Little Horus.. and I had learned to make papyrus, 

Once in a while we were a space station with the wonderful posters and artifacts from space and science fiction, We used visualization and modeling and wonderful information from supercomputing in the humanities.




Engineering, Geography, World Cultures

I read about Egypt as a child.There was a man with a red Fez who told me stories of Ancient Egypt who lived on my block.He was a black man from Egypt who told us about the country.

I read the accounts of the finds of Sir Howard Carter. I read these books and more.I saw the exhibit in Washington of King Tuts treasures and kept the catalogue for a very long time.There was a book of the Dead, This book told people dead people , who were buried with it, how to get to the kingdom of Osiris.
THere was a store called Ancient Discoveries in Alexandria , Virginia I learned a lot there, and then later in life I visited Egypt.I found things there to teach with.


I used ESS Structures for the engineering and a book given to me during Engineering week for the lessons.
We built a lot of things, using different materials, and tested structure.

THere are many books that we, the students and I read, some of which are copied here.
by David Macaulay ( ISBN 0-590-99518-9, Trumpet)
This is one of my favorite books for teaching about Egypt.

This book takes an impressive look at what many consider to be among the most awesome of man’s creations-the pyramids of Egypt. Macaulay, through word and blackline drawings, shows Egyptian life and how the pyramids were built. He also talks about the way that Egyptians were readied for the next life. This is a wonderful book about the architecture of the pyramids. THe illustrations are great and simply tell the story.ˆ

The Great Pyramid by Elizabeth Mann
This picture book contains a story within a story as it tells about the building of the great pyramid. While reading about King Khufu and his life, one, also learns why he wanted to build a pyramid, and how the pyramid was constructed. Great detail is given as to the Egyptian life style, including the life of the farmers, who became slaves while building the great pyramid. Beautiful illustrations help capture the essence of this time in history. This is a great book to read to the class, as well as have available for students to enjoy on their own. ˆ

Pyramids by Anne Millard ISBN #0-590-63247-7 (Scholastic)
Ever since ancient times the pyramid as a structural shape has captured out imaginations and played a meaningful and fascinating part in civilized societies. From the ziggurats of Babylon and the Valley of the Kings in ancient Egypt to the towering monuments built by the Aztecs and Maya in Central America, Pyramids examines the mythology and the history of these massive and intriguing creations. ˆ

The Egyptian News by Scott Steedman
This is an over-sized book that is written like a newspaper, telling about the life in Ancient Egypt. The articles are fun and informative, and written as though the events were just happening. Events such as “HYSOS HAMMERED”, “BOY-KING DIES”, “THE LONGEST BOAT IN OUR COUNTRY”, which tells of Pharaoh Khufu’s famous funerary boat. There are clever advertisements, a fitness quiz, a Who’s Who list of the famous men, The Top Gods, and how to mummify your body. There is a great gossip section telling about the latest banquet, what was eaten, and who was there. A great book to share while studying this fun time in history. It is fun to see a book that teaches facts in such a fun way. One forgets they are learning while enjoying the articles. ˆ
Hieroglyphs from A to Z by Peter Der Manuelian (ISBN 0-590-40008-8, Scholastic)

Hieroglyphs are drawings of ancient symbols found on Egyptian tombs and temple walls. On each page of this book there are hieroglyphs and information about Egyptian culture. The narrative is written in rhyme. Using a stencil of the hieroglyphs, you can learn how to write secret messages with Egyptian symbols.
*This book comes with a stencil of hieroglyphs. ˆ

Mummies, Tombs, and Treasure by Lila Perl ( ISBN 0-590-96226-4, Scholastic)
What happens to people after they die? The Egyptians thought if they mummified a dead person, his spirit would live forever. At first nature did the job; the desert sun dried and preserved bodies buried in shallow sandpit graves. Mummifying methods became more elaborate with time, as did after-life dwelling places. Eventually, the Egyptians built the largest known tombs-the pyramids-in which wealthy Egyptians were buried with food, household items, and treasure. The ancient Egyptian way of death has left us a rich legacy of information about a way of life of which there is no other record. Lila Perl’s thoroughly documented account is as fascinating as it is revealing. ˆ

But to have a good read, there are books of the discoveries of Sir Howard Carter, or reports about Howard Carter.
This is a book I read over and over.
There was also some book that shared how to make a mummy.
I was fascinated. THen there was a laser disc program about the examination of a mummy.I always wanted to know how they extracted the brain of the mummy through the nose.
I think I could have been an archaeologist if I had more knowledge in my early life of how to follow that career
Here is an online sharing about Sir Howard Carter.

I learned to make Koshari, and an Egyptian breakfast, but food was not the subject of my teaching .. the art teacher
and I had students making personal names in Egyptian symbols, and we learned a little astronomy, so different than American teaching of the night skies. Online there is a “Windows to the Universe” There are three levels of astronomy and culture on this site.

Technology? Web site

Little Horus was the first Egyptian website especially designed for children. The website consisted of over 700 pages of information and illustrations that address children between the ages 6 to 15 in both Arabic and English. Little Horus provides a comprehensive journey that transcends Egypt’s 7000 years of civilization into an educational and cultural experience for children, adults, educators and professionals. Not only this, but Little Horus also offered children games, fun and entertainment to suit all ages. The site offered a variety of portals that provide a contemporary view of Egypt through Pharonic, Coptic, Greek and Modern civilizations. Teachers and students from several countries use the site as an educational reference material.

Little Horus received both national and international recognition for its excellence and commitment to edutainment within the Arab region. The continued success of Little Horus resulted in prestigious awards and received the 1st place in the Cable & Wireless Childnet International Award, the best Achiever of the Internet Society of Egypt (ISE) 1999 Annual Award, and was published in Bill Gates book as one of the best sites for children but sadly, it is no longer on the Internet.

Most of the time I used museums and places of hands on as well, but this post is not about me, I am sharing ideas from International Art, and some words to the wise from friends of mine who are scientists.

Let me give you one other example.


Rainforests, Reefs, and Jungles

When I taught Rainforests, I used resources from the National Geographic ( Started with the journey of a bar of chocolate), Earthwatch, The Jason Project. As a teacher I could Mix and match and use ( laser disks provided by the Lucas Foundation) we could create our own little stories.

Games became a focus. Do you remember Amazon Trail? the Voyage of the Mimi had its own games too. Navigation, Map Making.

Oh how we loved their focused programs, and Dr. Robert Ballard’s sharing of field trips into jungle environments. As a teacher of a group of National Geographic teachers I had access to the tapes of programs developed by George Stuart, on the Maya. Those tapes were archaeology, science, culture, history, astronomy and so much more and games.

The collective name for those was the “Voyage of the Mimi“.Here is the video, which then starred Ben Affleck.

Let me give you one other example.

Rainforests, Reefs, and Jungles

When I taught Rainforests, I used resources from the National Geographic ( Started with the journey of a bar of chocolate), Earthwatch, The Jason Project. As a teacher I could Mix and match and use ( laser disks provided by the Lucas Foundation) we could create our own little stories. The Jason Project is powerfully innovative.

Games became a focus. Do you remember Amazon Trail? the Voyage of the Mimi had its own games too. Navigation, Map Making.

Oh how we loved their focused programs, and Dr. Robert Ballard’s sharing of field trips into jungle environments. As a teacher of a group of National Geographic teachers I had access to the tapes of programs developed by George Stuart, on the Maya. Those tapes were archaeology, science, culture, history, astronomy and so much more and games.

The collective name for those was the “Voyage of the Mimi”.Here is the video, which then starred Ben Affleck.

Vinton Cerf says in a Magazine, Child Art, January -March 2014,

There are ways of collaborating on the Net Now that would allow multiple people to create works of art together. Those works of art may be in the virtual space. They could also be in the real world-suppose you created something that a three dimensional
printer could print. Collaboration is one thing .”

Vinton Cerf says in a Magazine, Child Art, January -March 2014,

There are ways of collaborating on the Net Now that would allow multiple people to create works of art together. Those works of art may be in the virtual space. They could also be in the real world-suppose you created something that a three dimensional
printer could print. Collaboration is one thing .”

He further says, “Another possibility is melding so many different modalities through one medium. I can send and receive imagery, sound and I have the opportunity to manipulate the perimeters of images, sound and other properties of something I’m working with.”

Most teachers don’t get a chance to do this type of innovation , based on the models of teaching and learning that have been presented to them in their educational landscape. To tell the truth, I was asked to leave a school, because the principal wanted me to teach only out of the book, and to prepare only for testing. I found a principal, Camay Murphy, who went on the learning journeys with me and took the rest of the staff. We won many prizes. But, as successful as I was, I could not find a home for creativity, innovation and new learning landscapes.

So I consult , write and dream.monday 050

Museums,the Media and Learning

By Bonnie Bracey Sutton

From Rome

Learning continues its change , while many try to keep it static. There are so many new ways to teach it makes those people who are afraid of change try even more to chain students to desks and the traditional ways of learning.

Outside of education, children are entranced by the media. But using the media and learning from the media are not enough. There was a time when the available media took part in education in a formal way.Some of those films still exist , you can probably find them on a special channel on your cable offerings.

Children enjoy interaction , and when the interaction is both STEM and art and music , or some representation of the same, that makes it all better.

For many years I worked with the group . an International one that was, ” World Summit on Media for Children” and we started before the Internet was well known. We included it as one of the tools of transition.

Museums have always had to give their programs in interesting ways , either to attract, assist, or involve an audience that may pay money to be involved in an experience.

I have several favorite museums, and the Smithsonian was the one that caught my attention early in life and almost through all of my teaching career. The school children and I could put on our Metro shoes and run to the Mall to find out what it was that the museum was offering. They carefully did professional development before their exhibits and it was fun to learn and to be up to date with the information. I don’t have a favorite Smithsonian Museum, I do have a favorite experience which took me to India from participation in an event.At the moment my favorite museum exhibit is the Sant Hall of Science where the Science is awesome.

Later in life I discovered teacher resources in lots of places, but often the teacher resources did not match outreach to the children. So when I found the Exploratorium it , a hands on minds on kind of place .. it suited me just fine.. except that it was in California. But the resources were great and actually using the resources of “ The Accidental Science of Cooking” I was invited to Milan, to Italy, to a forum in Lake Garda, ” You Are What you Eat”. Children and I had looked at the videos, cooked the foods and researched many of the questions on the topics.  Who knew it would get me a trip to Italy and published.

Today I am back in Italy, and the museum of Explora for children with workshops and integrated learning activities. I am tired, I am happy to learn a new place to share and my Ragazzi friends were right. It is a great learning place. It is in Italy but often places that are successful are duplicated replicated and shared.

Being welcomed to the activities

Here’s to learning places that integrate art, STEM and the humanities .

Mucca - Learning about the Cow and Milk

Hands on Learning

The Smithsonian, the Nation’s Attic , A Favorite Learning Place of Mine

 I must confess that I have been learning at the Smithsonian museums forever.
My mother went to the Baptist Church which started at 10 A.M. p on Sunday, and I was getting on the bus at that time to get to Washington DC, to be at the Smithsonian when it opened on Sunday. There are many Smithsonian Museums  so I would do the dance of which one before I departed from Alexandria , Virginia , and run happily to the museum of my choice. Mind you there is one Smithsonian museum I have never been to, but it is in New York. I intend to go there to it some day. I have former students working in the Cooper-Hewitt Museum NYC and of the museums in New York, I have never visited the American Indian Museum Heye Center (NYC)
I live within walking distance of the Mall , and so I rarely need to think about parking , weather
exceptions for that statement.
Learning Abour the world at the Smithsonian Summer  Camp

Smithsonian Summer camp

I used to have a funder who like me LOVED museums. But Jack Taub was in New York with a lot of different museums. Before he passed, we often shared the wonder of what museums can do as teaching institutions. I also had a friend John Scully who was at that time in charge of Apple and we thought a lot about museums as schools. What a wonderful thing that is. Often there are many people who never get to go to museums, or who get involved in the learning that is sustained , cultivated and nurtured by groups within the museum.
I attended the Summer Folklife Fesitval and found a way to infuse myself into a group going to India, on a Fulbright. Who knew a museum was a place to further learning and that it might be possible for me to go to India. I did and we visited about 26 cities officially, we also took a side trip to Nepal.
We were a group of teachers learning about the country of India. What a wonderful experience and extension of the exhibit that was about India on the mall. I think it was what made me geographically
interested in the rest of the world and it gave me a new perspective on cultures. We visited schools, and communities in many cities in India. We also absorbed the culture. In the mornings we read the newspapers and learned what was important in the news in India. We studied religions, yoga, the food and drink, and clothing. We learned history of India that is not a part of regular school teaching.
The Tiger of Mysore? The British influence on India. We visited museums and archeological places.
it was the experience of a lifetime for me. It is a huge country and transportation then was sometimes a bit difficult. Technology was not so widespread then. India
Our task was to collect information about the games and education in India. We visited many cities in various parts of India. I cannot tell you which was the most interesting part of India, and I cannot share my photos because I have not converted them into modern images. I was carrying a Nikon with eight lenses. I loved getting up in the morning early to go take photos before our classes, lectures and excursions. A group of us had guidebooks, and resource and we studied each city in depth before we arrived there. India is bigger than the imagination from the caves, to the architecture to the intricate weavings and the many religions.  I found the markets intriguing , and the things to buy amazing, arts and crafts, so intricate and beautiful.
The Smithsonian Taught me about Seeds of Change, two old worlds coming together.
Another stunning example of how the Smithsonian educates is the work that was done around the Columbus Quincentennary.

October 26, 1991 – May 23, 1993

Museum: Natural History Museum, Studying Seeds of Change

Examined the exchange of plants and seeds between the Old and New Worlds following Columbus’s discovery of America in 1492. Themes include the introduction of horses, sugar, and disease to the New World and the introduction of potatoes and corn to the Old World. Introductory film, on first floor, What a joy it was to be on a committee and work with Smithsonian researchers and to go to the Smithsonian for updates and involvement. Just the information about the origin of foods in the world  was quite interesting.  I even had a chance to teach and cook with kids in the museum as a teacher in the summer program and we actually had a garden, we were helped by gardeners , but we tended to the garden on the Smithsonian grounds raising traditional crops during that summer.

THere was history too, so exciting. There were real emeralds brought in and gold from the conquistadors, and the examination of the diseases that weakened the natives of America,

[Learning About Each Other]

Sharing Our Differences;
Learning From Each Other

From Two Worlds to One World

“In fourteen hundred ninety-two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue…”

So what does that mean to people living in the world today? Why is Columbus an important person? Why do we celebrate something that happened over 500 years ago?

Here is a place that is of the Smithsonian, and is probably a surprise to most people the SERC Learning Lab. Parents and children happily studied on the dock, we were real scientists at work.

The Sant Hall of Science 

SERC  Smithsonian Research Center

The Smithsonian Information Center in the Castle is centrally located at 1000 Jefferson Dr., SW, Washington, D.C. Ten of the Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., span an area from 3rd to 14th Streets between Constitution Avenue and Independence Avenue, approximately 1 mile (1.6 km)
There are convenient places to rest, to picnic to , eat,  and to learn on the outside of the museums too. I was educated by Smithson’s legacy. My schools were not so good , but the museum staff people and their work gave me a world wide education.
There are busses to the far museums, but you have to metro to the Zoo.National Zoo
The National Zoo is at 3001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Washington, D.C., approximately 30 minutes by car or public transportation from the National Mall. Public parking is available for a fee.
Zoo directions »Anacostia Community Museum
The Anacostia Community Museum is located in Fort Stanton Park at 1901 Fort Place, SE, Washington, D.C. Free public parking is available.
Anacostia Community Museum directions »Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center
The Air and Space Museum Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center is located at 14390 Air and Space Museum Parkway, Chantilly, Virginia, near the intersection of Rts. 50 and 28. Public parking is available for a fee.
Udvar-Hazy Center directions 
The mall is this wonderful green expanse of lawn that stretches from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and I have footsteps all over that Mall. There are besides the museums, special events, and classes and outeach to teachers. So I was there a lot.  Sometimes I would go in and gaze at the tomb of the founder of the Smithsonian , James Smithson in the castle.
Here is the website to the Smithsonian. It has always been the A in STEM for me. So when people ask me what about the Arts in STEM I know that they have no idea of my background. The Smithsonian Museums are my learning landscape. I have taken countless children to the various exhibits, workshops and demonstrations at the museums.
My favorite thing to do in the summer used to be to take the workshops that are so powerful that they
give for teachers.My mother used to tease that she saw me standing in line in the snow for various exhibitions. Not true. Parent thought that I worked for the Smithsonian to get kids interested in traveling there. I did teach using the resources of the Smithsonian. Here is a link to the study of air and space by very small students who loved the whole experience.Air and Space

The Smithsonian seeks to bring content experts and educators together to help strengthen American education and enhance our nation’s ability to compete globally. The Smithsonian serves as a laboratory to create models and methods of innovative informal education and link them to the formal  education system.