History That Kids Can Make - and Eat!


By Laurie Carlson

Chicago Review Press

188 pp., $14.95

The book's cover clearly states, "Classical Kids: An Activity Guide to Life in Ancient Greece and Rome." Flip it over: "Ages 5-12."

There's no getting around it. This book is for kids. Not fair!

If we'd taken time in my college Roman history class to make seed and bean mosaic coasters or construct a model aqueduct, I would've retained more facts.

That's the book's forte - it's fun. Kids won't even know they're getting duped into learning classical history.

Carlson sneaks lessons about the ancients into related hands-on activities and games. She's so sly that even her instructions bear nuggets of education.

Kids might think they're just making string art, but they'll actually be learning about parabolic curves. It might seem like a regular old papier-mch elephant, but it's really a lesson on the war between the Romans and Hannibal's Carthaginian army.

It's rare I would do math voluntarily - but there I was, making a sieve of Eratosthenes.

Kids will come away with some familiarity of Greek and Roman achievements, ideas, history, and society.

Messy activities are kept to a minimum - papier-mch is as crazy as it gets. And the required materials for projects are readily available at any craft store.

The only troublesome sections are those about food. While there's some useful information - recipes for asparagus and artichokes - it's unlikely kids will be clamoring to saut vegetables on a Saturday afternoon.

If you're careful, though, you might trick Junior into dinner by turning to Page 29 and saying, "Look, honey! We can roast chicken just like the Greeks!"

* Kristina Lanier is a Monitor intern.

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