Ahhhh. The first grade Egyptian/Hebrew festival is OVER! I didn't realize how much I was thinking about it until it was over and I immediately had trouble keeping my eyes open! (I was in bed by 10:00 last night. That's very early for me.)
It went off yesterday morning without a hitch. Another mom and I headed it up and we had TONS of help. It was SO fun. The kids dressed in their costumes from their history reports (they each chose a person from either the Old Testament or Ancient Egypt and did an oral report in class dressed as that person) and visited four stations to learn more about the culture and food from the time. We had several King Davids, quite a few daughters of Pharaoh (Moses' adoptive mother), several Sarahs, two Nefertitis and a partridge in a pear tree. No, wait, that's next week's assignment.
The first activity was a traditional Jewish community dance. That was a lot of fun! The kids enjoyed it and it got the event off to a great start. Then we split the kids into four smaller groups (about 8 or 9 per group) and sent them to the four stations.
The first station was all about ancient Hebrew food. We had goat cheese, unleavened bread, liquid yogurt (to stand in for curdled milk), lentil soup, spices to smell and melons to taste. The kids sat on rugs on the floor and listened to a volunteer tell about all of the different foods. We even had some cleverly made locusts - hummus on celery with strips of bell pepper for legs and wings and a green maraschino cherry for the head (and icing eyes). The mom who made them said that they would probably taste nasty, but they looked good! I reminded her that real locusts probably tasted nasty, too!
We were very blessed to be able to have a real archaeologist / anthropologist come and set up a station all about Bedouin culture. She had authentic rugs, pillows, scarves, clothing, bowls, vases, you name it! She also went to Phoenicia Bakery the day before and got dates, figs, bread, hummus, and some really yummy honey treats for the kids to sample. She had fresh rosemary and mint for them to smell. She had books and personal stories all about how the Bedouins live. She told us that the Bedouins of today live very much like the Patriarchs of the Bible lived. I sat in her station under the canopy that we had set up and I thought, this was where Sarah was when she heard that she was going to give birth. She was in a tent like this with food like this when she heard that God's promise was going to be fulfilled. It made the story all the more real to me. I pray that at least some of that sunk into the kids, too.
Next we had Esther. One of the moms dressed up as Esther and told the story of Purim. The kids had shaker boxes (I forgot to ask why) and they sat on the rug and listened intently and shook their boxes at the right times. I wish I had been able to visit that station and hear the story, but I was at my station.
At my station we had an ancient Egyptian party! (It sounds more fun than it was. I had about 7 or 8 minutes of info and activities to present in 15 minutes. I should have planned better.) I dressed up like an Egyptian - complete with a pair of my huge silver earrings from the 80's! (I knew I would need them again one day!) I made some "wax cones" for the kids heads from red plastic cups. (They wore cones of scented wax on their heads at parties, making the hair or wig smell good.) We glued a circle of felt on the bottom of the cup and then I sprinkled the felt with essential oil (sweet orange - it was the least expensive and least offensive!) and those who wanted to wear them attached them to their hair with bobby pins. I wore a plastic cup on my head for the whole festival. (Sigh. I love my kid.) I also served dried figs, pita bread and hummus. Another mom had face paints and made the kids' eyes look Egyptian. It was a lot of fun! Oh, I also served root beer. Everything I read about ancient Egypt said that they drank beer at every meal. I just didn't think that bringing a six pack for a bunch of 1st graders was appropriate (although the mom volunteers asked why I didn't bring some for them!) so I brought the next best thing - fake beer (a.k.a. anything that said "beer" that could be served to kids.) Some kids loved the root beer, others made faces. But most gamely tried the food set before them.
It was a very successful event. I was pleased at how the moms stepped up and helped out. I think that the moms had just as much fun as the kids! And we all learned something.
When we got home I asked Princess (one of the Nefertitis) what her favorite part of the festival was. Her answer? "Eating watermelon."