Monthly Archives: August 2014

Islamic Advances: Math & Science

Week 11: Islamic Advances: Math & Science


View K – 3: These two Youtube videos:

  1. This video is about the start of numbers. It’s fictional but it gives kids a good idea as to why we need numbers, and why the Arabic numbers are so much easier to use.
  2. This video explains the origin of Arabic numbers. Unfortunately, the last bit of the video is cut off.

Read 4 – 6: The Story of Our Numbers by Zelda King

7 – 8:  Science, Medicine, & Math in the Early Islamic World by Trudee Romanek



  • The numbers we use today (0 – 9) are called Arabic numerals, but where did they originally come from? (Hindu mathematicians in India)
  • Why do you believe they are called Arabic numerals? (Europeans learned them from Arab mathematicians.)
  • What numbers were used for math before Arabic numerals? (Roman numerals)
  • Why are Arabic numerals easier to use? (There are ones, tens, & hundreds columns. There is a zero. The numbers don’t take as long to write.)
  • How did the use of Arabic numbers spread to Europe? (Arab mathematicians wrote books on the Arabic number system and taught at universities where their ideas were spread.)
    Question for Grades 4 and up: Look on the map on page 12 of your book. (Pg 7 for Grades 7 – 8).
  • What parts of the world were controlled by the Arab Empire in the Middle Ages? (North Africa, Egypt, most of the Middle East, including Israel & Southern Spain.)
    Questions for Grades 7 – 8:
  • Describe the “Translation Movement.” (Muslim scholars studied and translated writings of brilliant Greek thinkers. They also studied Chinese inventions, and ideas about mathematics and surgery from people of India. Thousands of documents were translated into Arabic.)
  • T/F Muslim leaders set up universities throughout their empire. (T)
  • Describe the Arabic advances in the medical field? (Set up hospitals, studied writings about herbs used for medicines, performed surgeries, used anesthesia, studied the eye and how it worked.)
  • Name some of the machines used by Muslims? (waterwheels, clocks, automatons, windmills)
  • Islamic art during the Middle Ages utilized skills in what form of math? (geometry)

Activities: K – 8: Islamic art and architecture was known for its beautiful, geometric designs. Check out these images from Islamic mosques and other important structures for an idea of their exquisite beauty.,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.51495398,d.dmg&biw=1680&bih=864&um=1&ie=UTF-8&hl=en&tbm=isch&source=og&sa=N&tab=wi&ei=Nk4lUsWqNcfh4AOm1YBw
(From Google Images Islamic art and architecture)
K – 2: Complete the following worksheet: Use this chart for help in completing the worksheet: The Arabic empire was known for its beautiful, geometrical patterns in its architecture. Color the following worksheet:
3 – 6: Complete the Greek, Roman, and Arabic portions of the following worksheet: A chart for use with the worksheet, as well as an answer key can be found on this page: The Arabic empire was known for its beautiful, geometrical patterns in its architecture. Color the following worksheet:
7 – 8: Write an essay describing Islamic achievements during the Middle Ages in the fields of math, science, art, or all three. Then color the following worksheet, exemplifying Islamic Architecture:

Copyright August 28th, 2014 by Gwen Fredette

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Week 10: Muhammad (570 – 632 AD)


Read K – 5:  Muhammad by Demi AND skim information on these sites:

6 – 8: Muhammad of Mecca, Prophet of Islam by Elsa Marston AND read information on these sites:


  • What happened to Muhammad’s parents? (died when he was very young)
  • Who raised Muhammad? (grandfather & uncle)
  • What was Muhammad’s nickname in business? (the trustworthy)
  • What type of work did Muhammad do as a young man? (merchant, trader)
  • What was the name of Muhammad’s first wife? (Khadijah)
  • What happened to Muhammad in the cave just outside of Mecca? (said he saw the angel Gabriel who told him to recite.)
  • What message did Muhammad bring to the people? (there is only one God, be good to the poor, etc.)
  • What is considered to be the holy book of Islam? (the Koran)
  • What was the Kabah? (square structure with a meteorite set into the corner; located in Mecca; many Arabs worshiped there.)
  • Before Muhammad preached to the Arabic people, how many gods did they worship? (hundreds)
  • What tribe fiercely opposed Muhammad? (the Quraysh)
  • How are Muslims called to prayer? (Man calling)
  • T/F Muhammad and his followers fought many battles. (T)
  • Do Muslims believe in the Trinity? (no)
  • What foods should Muslims avoid? (alcohol & pork)
  • What are the 5 pillars of Islam? (1.) There is one God, Allah, and Muhammad is his prophet)
    2.) Muslims must face the Kabah in Mecca and pray 5 times a day)
    3.) Give to the poor
    4.) Fast during Ramadan
    5.) Pilgrimage to Mecca
  • What were Muhammad’s friend, Abu Bakr’s words to the people when Muhammad died? ( If you worship Muhammad, Muhammad is dead; If you worship God, God is living, & eternal, immortal.)

Questions for Grades 6 – 8:

  • What were the Satanic verses? (Muhammad was told by revelation that Muslims could worship at the shrines of 3 female gods, then received another revelation that no, Muslims must worship only God; Muhammad reasoned the first message must have come from Satan.)
  • According to the Koran, how many wives can a Muslim take? (4 but they must be treated equally)
  • How many wives did Muhammad have? (more than 4; most sources say at least 11 and he also had concubines)
  • Who was Aisha? (one of Muhammad’s wives – possibly his favorite after Khadijah; married her when she was 6; Muhammad consummated the marriage when she was 9; she gave us much information about his life.)
  • Originally Muhammad and his followers faced what city when they prayed? (Jerusalem)
  • According to the Koran, can men divorce their wives? (yes, as long as they provide for them)
  • T/F Muhammad was both a spiritual & political leader. (True)
  • What is jihad? (Holy War – Muslims must fight to protect, defend & advance Muslim community)
  • If a tribe was attacked but agreed to become Muslims what was the result? (tribe could live)
  • If a tribe was attacked but did not become Muslims what was the result? (all were killed)
  • Did the Jewish tribes living near Muhammad accept his teachings? (No)

Activities: K – 2: Create a model of the 5 pillars of Islam similar to what is shown on this website: Toilet paper and paper towel rolls work great, but if you don’t have enough, paper can be rolled up and taped for the same effect.
3 – 6: Write a paragraph telling what you’ve learned about Muhammad and Islam. Write another paragraph contrasting Jesus and Muhammad. Then, from the chart on the website you just read: copy two of the chart comparisons of Jesus & Muhammad. Choose two that stood out most to you.
7 – 8: Write a 5 paragraph 3 proof essay describing the life of Muhammad, the teachings of Islam, and how it contrasts with Christianity. Then, from the chart on the website you just read copy two of the chart comparisons of Jesus & Muhammad. Choose two that stood out most to you.


Copyright August 21st, 2014 by Gwen Fredette

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Stained Glass & Cathedrals

Week 9: Stained Glass & Cathedrals


Read K – 5: Looking at Glass Through the Ages by Bruce Koscielniak

6 – 8: Looking at Glass Through the Ages by Bruce Koscielniak AND Cathedral by David Macaulay



  • What ingredients are needed to make glass? (sand & soda ash [which is made by burning plants or hardwood]. These ingredients are heated at very high temperatures to make glass.)
  • What glass items did the Ancient Egyptians create? (beads, glass containers)
  • What is glassblowing? (Workers blow through a long, metal tube into a gob of molten glass to create glass items.)
  • During the Middle Ages glassmakers were able to invent a clear, colorless glass. What was this glass used to produce? (spectacles and magnifying glasses)
  • How were different glass colors created? (by adding metal or metal oxides to the glass mixture)
  • How was colored glass used in the Middle Ages? (stained glass windows for Cathedrals)
  • Why are these windows so famous? (works of art; tell Bible stories through pictures)
  • How were stained glass pieces held in place? (grooved strips of lead & iron in framework)
  • Name other great use for glass created in the Middle Ages? (mirrors)
  • How are mirrors created? (back of a piece of glass is coated with a thin, reflective layer of tin, silver, or other metal)
  • How is most glass produced today? (by machine)
  • Do glassmakers and glassblowers still exist? (yes, create works of art)
  • What glass items do you find the most beautiful or interesting to look at? (answers will vary)

Questions for grades 6 – 8:

  • About how many years did it take to construct the Cathedral in this book? (almost 100)
  • Name some of the specific skilled workers needed to create the Cathedral? (quarrymen, stone cutters, sculptors, mortar makers, masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, roofers, glassmakers, plasterers, & painters)
  • Compare cathedrals of the Middle Ages in size to local peasants’ homes? (Enormous!)
  • Why were such magnificent cathedrals built? (for glory of God)
  • What were relics? (religious artifacts – believed to once belong to Jesus or one of the saints)
  • How was money raised through relics? (people would pay to come see them)
  • What were cathedral windows made from? (stained glass)
  • What was scaffolding? (wooden temporary support frames used for builders to work on)
  • Was work on a cathedral sometimes dangerous? (yes, people could fall from the scaffolding)
  • What musical instruments did many cathedrals contain? (bells)


K – 2: Make a stained glass window from construction paper and tissue paper (in various colors) using the instructions from this site and youtube video:

3 – 6: Write 3 short paragraphs describing new things you learned about glass from your reading assignment.

7 – 8: Write 3 paragraphs describing the following:

  • Glass in the Middle Ages
  • Cathedrals in the Middle Ages
  • You have been hired to work on a Cathedral. You must choose one of the following positions: quarryman, stone cutter, sculptor, mason, carpenter, black smith, roofer, glassmaker, plasterer, or painter. Which position would you choose? Why?

Copyright August 9th, 2014 by Gwen Fredette




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Great Literature: King Arthur

Week 8: Great Literature: King Arthur


Read K – 2: King Arthur: The Sword in the Stone* by Hudson Talbott

3 – 4: King Arthur: The Sword in the Stone* by Hudson Talbott & Excalibur* by Hudson Talbott

5 – 6: King Arthur: The Sword in the Stone* by Hudson Talbott & Excalibur* by Hudson Talbott & King Arthur and the Round Table* by Hudson Talbott & Lancelot* by Hudson Talbott

7– 8: Arthur: High King of Britain** by Michael Morpurgo OR Books listed for Grades 5 – 6 (see above)

*Note:  I love these books!  They are beautifully written and illustrated.  You can flip through the first few pages of each book by clicking here:

** Note: Arthur: High King of Britain by Michael Morpurgo gives a more complete version of the tales of King Arthur. Consequently, it tells the tales of many of King Arthur’s knights. It tells of the relationship (adultery) between King Arthur’s queen, Guinievere, and his knight, Lancelot, and it tells of the sorceress, Morgan Le Fay, and the illegitimate birth of King Arthur’s son, Mordred. This book is beautifully and tastefully written, and it is written for junior high school students. However, the subject matter is for more mature students. If you are uncomfortable with this reading material, please have your 7th or 8th grader read the books listed for 5th and 6th graders.


  • Who was Arthur raised by ? (Sir Ector or Sir Egbert)
  • Who was Arthur’s foster brother? (Sir Kay)
  • Describe Kay’s personality? (boastful, liar, selfish)
  • Who was Arthur’s real father? (Uther Pendragon)
  • How did Arthur become king? (pulled a sword from a stone)
  • What great wizard put the sword in the stone and advised Arthur? (Merlin)
  • Were all the people happy to believe Arthur was the true king? (No)

Questions for Grades 3 – up:

  • What great knight did Arthur face when his sword was broken? (Pellinore)
  • Who saved Arthur from death when fighting Pellinore? (Merlin)
  • What was Excalibur? (sword)
  • Where did Arthur receive Excalibur? (from the Lady of the Lake)
  • What was more important, the sword or the scabbard? (the scabbard)
  • Why? (protected wearer from harm)

Questions for Grades 5 – up:

  • What was the name of Arthur’s true love? (Guinevere)
  • What two great gifts did Arthur receive from Leodegrance? (daughter Guinevere as queen, round table)
  • Why were knights considered as equals sitting at the round table? (no one at the head)
  • Why was Merlin against Arthur’s marriage? (foresaw trouble in his future if he married her)
  • What great knight was “the queen’s champion”? (Lancelot)
  • What great monster did Lancelot fight and defeat? (dragon)
  • Who became the mother of Lancelot’s son, Sir Galahad? (Lady Elaine)

Questions for Grades 7 – 8:

  • Who was Mordred? (Arthur’s son by his half-sister, Margawse)
  • Who was Morgan Le Fey? (half-sister of Arthur and sorceress; Arthur’s enemy)
  • What was the name of Arthur’s kingdom? (Camelot)
  • Who stole Arthur’s scabbard? (Morgan Le Fey)
  • Who was Arthur’s greatest knight and best friend during most of his kingship? (Lancelot)
  • Why did Guinevere end up being a poor choice for queen? (in love with Lancelot)
  • Which great knight began the search for the Holy Grail? (Galahad)
  • Whose son was Galahad? (Lancelot’s)
  • Why was Mordred a disappointment? (unhappy child, negative, scheming)
  • Who did Sir Gawain fight? (the Green knight)
  • What happened to the Green knight’s head? (it was cut off, but he still remained alive)
  • How did Mordred destroy Arthur’s kingdom? (exposed relationship between Lancelot & Guinevere; later fought against Arthur to kill him)
  • Did Mordred survive? (no)
  • What happened to Excalibur? (thrown back into the lake)
  • Why do you think the King Arthur stories have remained so popular for so long? (answers will vary)


K – 3: Draw your own picture of a scene from the King Arthur story you read.

4 – 6: What King Arthur story did you enjoy the most? Why? Which character from the King Arthur stories do you find most interesting? Why? Write the answers to both of these questions in paragraph form.

7 – 8: Write a 5 paragraph, 3 proof essay on one of the following topics:

    • Your favorite King Arthur story (which one and why)
    • 3 Favorite characters from the tales of King Arthur
    • Why are the King Arthur stories still popular today?

Copyright August 5th, 2014 by Gwen Fredette

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