We received four books from the If You Were Me and Lived In... book series to review, brought to you by Carole P. Roman and Awaywegomedia.com. I chose If You Were Me and Lived in...Ancient China: The Han Dynasty and If You Were Me and Lived in...the Middle Ages (Volume 6), and they also generously sent us If You Were Me and Lived in...Renaissance Italy (An Introduction to Civilizations Throughout Time) (Volume 2) and If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe. These are all exciting periods of time in World History and I knew my kids would find them fascinating!
What can you do with your If You Were Me and Lived in... books? You can use them for cultural or history studies and unit studies, which is what we did. Each book can be used for various activities, such as creating a timeline, using the glossary for vocabulary and spelling words, pretend play (playing roles depicted in the books, such as a Lord, peasant, or doctor from the Middle Ages book). You'll also learn about various occupations, food (which you can learn about further by cooking recipes in the kitchen), clothing, and recreation.
The book introduces historical figures, such as William the Conqueror, Clovis, and Charlemagne. We each chose a person from history who lived in the time period we were reading about and researched them further. I am teaching my children how to research and this was a perfect opportunity. They were able to look online and find books at the library with help. We chose the Middle Ages for our first unit study. We chose William the Conqueror (Munchkin), Joan of Arc (Bean), and Christine de Pizan (me - mom). After a week we each reported what we had learned about that person. We focused on key facts, such as their date of birth and death, what their name was and other names they were called, what they looked like (we each drew a portrait), where they lived, and what they were best known for. We tagged each one on our timeline for the year they "made history." When they are a little older, we will probably use activities like this to create lapbooks.
If You Were Me and Lived in...Viking Europe introduces you to Viking life in Northern Europe around the year 870 AD. You're given name ideas from that time period and what your family life would look like. In this book, you follow young Knut Ericson, son of a Jarl. Vikings were famous for their long voyages to foreign lands and raids. The Viking era depicted what life was like before the Middle Ages. Many things were similar. Medicine, for example, pretty much didn't change for a thousand years and they had limited options for those who were sick or injured. Food was plentiful for those who were part of the Jarl's family. They also drank a lot, with the adults drinking from horns so they had to drink it quickly or pass it around but never put it down, and children drank from cups. The Vikings written language was runic, which we learned.
The second book we focused on was Viking Europe. We use the first week of the study period to read the book, which usually takes 3-5 days, with 30-45 minute reading periods each day. After reading each page I stop and we discuss what was talked about, such as who a Jarl is or what mutton was. Sometimes this meant turning to the internet to look at more pictures. The second week we visit the library and find more reading materials, typically story books and at least one non-fiction book. Their favorite was the one on Norse myths. The third week, which we will start this week, will focus on what they want to research more about. Bean wants to learn to weave. Munchkin wanted to forage for food, but we're going into the wrong season for that, at least in our area, so instead he is going to learn to dye cloth using berries and plants. For the last week, we will focus on more hands-on lessons, cooking viking recipes, and our final project.
We used a laminated map to draw lines to the countries the Vikings visited and measured how long they would have traveled to get there. We added math into the lesson by estimating how long the journey would take and how much food and water they would have had to bring. We created a Viking ship using a large cardboard box and practiced rowing. It was a lot of fun!
If You Were Me and Lived in...Renaissance Italy The Renaissance took place over 500 hundred years ago, which really wasn't that long ago, although much has changed since then. It began in the Tuscany region of Italy and is most famous for the artists and inventors it produced. The Renaissance took place after the Middle Ages ended, and was a well-spring of creativity. Architecture, science and astronomy were making new changes. Life was making major changes, such as it becoming more common for children to be taught by tutors. Even girls were taught about art, music, and dancing, although they still focused on needlework. Children wore clothing like their parents and were expected to act appropriately. Clothing was important and represented your status in society. Forks were finally being used and important family members ate on porcelain dishes. Artists were in demand and are still remembered today as some of the best artists in the world.
These books are easy to read and the art is interesting. My kids thought they looked like watercolor pictures. Three of the books are illustrated by Mateya Arkova from Bulgaria. The Renaissance Italy book is illustrated by Silvia Brunetti from Rome. We really enjoyed reading these books and look forward to collecting the rest of the books in this series!