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Marco Polo, the Ottoman Empire, and the final Book Club – Part I

June 1, 2009

readinglist2Chers Amis,

May 1 was our last bookclub meeting for 2008-2009.  As the final meeting for the year and for the girls as they embark on middle school  at our parish Catholic school next fall, it was bittersweet. I will still have Pippin at home next year for 3rd grade and I SO hope that I will be able to find a group of boys interested in having a serious book club as we did for the girls. It was one of their favorite things about homeschooling. On verra. . .

We ended the year with the genre of non-fiction and Adventures of Marco Polo by Russell Freedman. The book itself is very well researcprayer rughed and is graced by luminous illustrations done in the style of the period.  Five thumbs up. Both the younger and the older students read (or were read) this book, so as an assignment, each book club family chose a country that Marco Polo traveled through to or from on his epic journey to China.  They then and presented on what it would have been like during the 13th century in that area.

Scarlett, Caddie, and Pippin selected the Ottoman or Islamic Empire, specifically Turkey.  It was a fascinating study that inspired rich and lengthy rabbit trails.  

For her presentation, Scarlett wrote and produced a small bound book called, “The Ultimate Guidebook to the Thirteenth Century Islamic Empire.” Pippin decided to dress up as an Ottoman Trader, make gold Tang Dynasty coins from Sculpey, learn about goods produced and sold along the Silk Road or in the bazaars, and color a Turkish tile.  Caddie chose to research and write about the Caravanserais, the inns build along trade routes to offer shelter and services to caravans.

She also learned about the five pillars of Islam and painted a prayer rug.  This was quite a project as she masked the different sections with tape which took a lot of patience and time.  it was very interesting to learn about the designs of the rugs and Scarlett even tried her hand at writing a saying on the middle blue section. There was a short calligraphy lesson in the back of the Islamic Empire book which showed how to make the strokes. (If by any chance she made a mistake, please understand it was not done purposefully!)

Part II will include review on several of our favorite picture book finds and a few suggestions for adult reading (fiction and non-fiction) on this compelling topic.   Check back in a few days! **Update – Part II Ottoman Empire: Art, History, and cuisine.

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