Articles Tagged with: history

What to Do Over Thanksgiving Break?

Thanksgiving is next week, and we’re looking forward to stuffing our faces full of turkey and mashed potatoes. What else can you do during the Thanksgiving holiday?

Spend Time With Family

Thanksgiving break with the family

This one is a no-brainer. If your family is already together for the Thanksgiving meal and Thanksgiving break, see what else you can do together. Sign up to volunteer as a group, brave the cold for some outdoor time, or catch a new movie. For families with kids, Ralph Breaks the Internet is a great option or the Fantastic Beast sequel. For older families, Creed 2 and Widows offer some exciting action-drama.

Offer a few options and figure out what would work for everyone! What’s most important is that everyone has fun.

All About Football

Thanksgiving football games

Watch three full games of football on Thanksgiving! But, if you’re getting bored of just watching, pick up a ball yourself and make it a casual game with the family. It’s particularly good to do if you’ve got some kids who need to get their energy out! After that’s done, you can return to the couch to keep watching the games.

Of course, you’ve got to practice your tackle anyway for Black Friday sales. Just kidding. Please be safe and polite during shopping on Black Friday. Tackling is a foul for sure in that case.

Set Up the Tree

Thanksgiving break to winter break

Finally, it’s socially acceptable to put up that tree! Thanksgiving break, get your tree early and put on your decorations. It’s a nice way to transition from one holiday to the other. You might consider setting up outside decorations too, before it gets too cold to do so! Just pace yourself on holiday songs. Don’t burn yourself out too early on those.

If you don’t celebrate a holiday with a tree, it’s still a good time for decorating or cleaning! Rope your family into helping while you’ve got them there.

Learn Some History!

Of course, it’s important to know the context of Thanksgiving and be aware of our history as we celebrate. Make a small lesson for your kids about the First Thanksgiving or do some research for yourself. 

After that, if you want more check out what Early America was like with Loot Pursuit! Or research another culture with Excavate!

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Moments from History in the Month of November

November 2: First Long Duration Stay on ISS Begins

Expedition 1 was the first long duration stay upon the International Space Station. The 3-person crew lived in space from November 2000 to March 2001, a total of 136 days. The crew consisted of American commander Bill Shepard and two Russians named Yuri Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalev. To this day, the ISS remains an important part of space research.

November 4: King Tut Day

On King Tut Day, we celebrate the discovery of King Tut’s tomb by archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922. King Tut became ruler of Egypt at the age of ten and died in his teens. Before the discovery of the tomb, nobody knew much about the boy pharaoh as there weren’t many records. Therefore, the discovery was a monumental event in Egyptian history.

November 8: Theodosius Buried

In 395, the Romans bury Emperor Theodosius in Constantinope. During his tenure, he officially declared Christianity to be the official religion of the Roman Empire, Unfortunately, he was not particularly tolerant of those practicing other religions. While he was first only emperor of the Eastern Roman Empire, he conquered the other half to become sole ruler for the last few years of his reign. He died of disease.

November 12: First Selfie in Space

In 1966, Buzz Aldrin takes the first space selfie in history. This was, of course, before selfie was a commonly used word. He used the camera using EVA (extra-vehicular activity) equipment to take a picture of himself. While Buzz Aldrin may be known for his trip to the moon, he took many more expeditions into space than that.

Learn More History!

To get into more history, check out our catalog of educational games! There’s stuff there for STEM and social studies, so, no matter your interest, we’ve got a game for you to try!


The History of Halloween and Other Spooky Holidays

Halloween is just around the corner now! We hope your costumes are prepared and your trick-or-treating routes have been decided. But, if you’d like to know the history of Halloween, we’re here to let you know. And not just about Halloween- find out all about several spooky holidays.

Halloween History

Halloween ghosts

You might be surprised to learn, Halloween was not always a time for dressing up and stuffing your face with candy. Halloween began with the ancient celebration of Samhain among the Celts, during which they believed ghosts returned to the Earth. Later, the holiday was combined with Roman traditions as the empire conquered Celtic land.

Finally, Christian leaders decided to combine Samhain with their All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day celebrations. It was common practice to try and overwrite pagan traditions with Christian traditions: the same strategy was used for Christmas! When it moved over to the Americas, however, Halloween slowly lost its religious connection. Many traditions melded together, and the day eventually became the spooky holiday we enjoy in the United States and elsewhere today!

Find out more about its history here!

All Saints’ & All Souls’ Day

All Saints Day Halloween holiday

However, just because Halloween moved away from religion, doesn’t mean the holiday it emerged from went away. Many countries in Europe and South America still celebrate All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day. All Saints’ falls on November 1, while All Souls’ takes place the day after, and they remain a part of Catholic tradition to this day.

All Saints’ Day is meant to commemorate all the saints of the Catholic Church, including those who are “only known to God.” Meanwhile, All Souls’ Day commemorates those who have died and sit in Purgatory. The living pray in order to help them leave. Places such as Germany, Hungary, Austria,and others have specific traditions during this time.

Find out more here!

Dia de los Muertos

Day of the Dead Halloween holiday skull

Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead stems from Aztec ceremonies of around 3,000 years ago. When Spaniards came to Mexico to colonize, the tradition took on some elements of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day, just like Halloween did. Before that point, it was celebrated in summer but moved to align with these celebrations in late October and early November.

The Day of the Dead is a very festive occasion. Families decorate altars to their deceased relatives, offer them food, and clean up the area around their grave. Rather than the scary times of Halloween, the Day of the Dead offers families time to reminisce and celebrate their loved ones who are gone.

Find out more about the Day of the Dead and its history here

Do you celebrate any of these holidays? How are you planning to celebrate this year? Let us know in the comments for this post. If you’re interested in history, don’t forget to check out our deep line of educational games including the Excavate! series, where you can become an archaeologist and discover more about the traditions of ancient cultures.

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Hispanic Heritage Month: Resources for Teachers

What Is Hispanic Heritage Month?

Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of Americans whose ancestry can be traced to Spain, Mexico, or other Hispanic countries. The festival lasts from September 15 to October 15, starting in the middle of a month since September 15 marks the independence day of five seperate Hispanic countries. Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and Nicaragua all celebrate on that date.

The month particularly focuses on the arts and culture of Hispanic Americans, highlighting important figures from history, hosting music festivals, and even working with the Smithsonian, Library of Congress, and more organizations in DC. You can find out more about it and the events that comprise its duration in the DC area by looking at the official website. If you’re not from the DC area, don’t worry. This calendar features events from all over the country. So you can put something on your schedule no matter where you are!

Hispanic Heritage Month Resources

National Hispanic Heritage Month at the Smithsonian

Photo credit: Detail of Maíz Flor Serpiente/ Flower Maize Serpent commissioned digital art work by the Indigenous Design Collection, 2015.

While homeschools could consider scheduling a field trip to one of the events you can find above, teachers in the classroom might not be able to find time to bring their students out and about to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. However, thanks to how long the festival has been an established part of the calendar, there are already plenty of resources for bringing Hispanic Heritage Month into the classroom. Both the websites linked above bring you to plenty of helpful classroom resources.

The government site has links to resources from the Library of Congress, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Archives, National Park Service, and the Smithsonian Institution. Check them all out. On the other one, you can find many articles about Hispanic culture, scholarships, social impact, and more. While not all of them may be great for all classrooms, the resources can expand your knowledge as well.

For more traditional lesson plans, you can also find resources on the National Education Association site and on Scholastic. See how to bring in multi-cultural education into your classroom in celebration.

Excavate! MesoAmerica

Excavate! games MesoAmerican screenshot

While Excavate! MesoAmerica doesn’t cover every Hispanic ancestry, it’s a great, fun way to get students interested in the history and cultures of ancient MesoAmerica. Explore the Aztec, Inca, and Maya civilizations through interactive archaeology. Students can discover more about these MesoAmerican sites by deeply examining artifacts and stretching their critical thinking skills. Excavate! MesoAmerican also includes a Spanish language option!

Until September 30, all our Excavate! games are 30% off with the code BACKTOSCHOOL18, so snag yourself a copy during Hispanic Heritage Month to bring Hispanic history to your classroom.

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Uncovering Ancient Rome: Did You Know?

Ancient Rome has fascinated and intrigued people for centuries. It’s easy to understand why: tyrannical leaders, wars, gladiators, and the rise of a vast empire. Hollywood has helped to fuel this fascination with interpretations of stories and people from this time period. However, many times movies and TV shows stretch the truth a bit to make things even more interesting. Here are a few great facts you can bet on to be true:

An artifact featured in Excavate! RomeGladiator Recovery Shake

Gladiators might have had a special “recovery” drink. According to this article from NPR, the bones of gladiators were found to have a higher level of calcium. While the cause isn’t totally known, Pliny the Elder was quoted as writing, “Your hearth should be your medicine chest. Drink lye made from its ashes, and you will be cured. One can see how gladiators after a combat are helped by drinking this.” Many believe that the ashes of charred plants were mixed into a drink that helped to boost their calcium to build stronger bones.

An artifact used in Ancient RomeBaths Are for More than Bathing

The baths were for more than just bathing. Public bath houses were a large part of ancient Roman daily life. Romans would progress through a ritual of dipping in pools of differing temperatures. In place of soap, they (or their slaves) would rub oil on their bodies and scrape the dirt away with a tool called a strigil. Other than a way to get clean, the baths offered an opportunity for people to network with each other and relax. This article from LiveScience discusses some of the items found in the drains of Roman Baths. Jewelry, plates and cups, animal bones, and even scalpels have been recovered showing evidence of more than just bathing.

An example of a jug used in Ancient RomeSecond Floor with a View

Who doesn’t love a penthouse view? In modern apartment buildings, the higher the floor you live, the more expensive it becomes. The top floor is supposed to have the best view and the largest space. Take this idea and flip it around when it comes to Roman apartments. These buildings, called Insulae, were built quickly and cheaply to house the ever-growing population of Rome. Though most contained only five levels, some reached up to nine. The fear of collapse and fire was real since it happened often. The top floors were usually the most cramped and did not have running water!

An example of a birdcage from RomeFor the Birds

Wealthy Romans lived in individual houses called Domus. One interesting aspect of daily life of wealthy Romans was that they had pets! Dogs were very popular with Romans. The Greyhound and Maltese were two very popular breeds. Birds were also prized – many Romans domesticated nightingales, magpies, and ravens because they could be taught to speak.  However, many exotic species were imported such as peacocks and parrots and kept is beautifully decorated cages.

 

These facts can all be discovered in Dig-iT! Games’ new Excavate! Rome game, along with many more that reveal the complexities of Roman society. Players take on the role of archaeologist and choose which location to dig in (the Colosseum, Baths, Domus, or Insula). At each site, they will uncover and analyze precious artifacts that tell the interesting and intriguing story of ancient Rome. In addition, we have our Excavate! Card Game for ancient Rome that allows students to put their knowledge of ancient Rome to the test. What facts do your students love to learn about the Romans?

A promotional image for Excavate! Rome