June 22, 2024
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BPY 6th Grade Studies Mesopotamia

The BPY sixth grade is immersed in the study of Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of Avraham, our forefather. The unit was kicked off with a discussion about what constitutes a civilization. The students then participated in hands-on experiences that helped them connect to the lives of the ancient Mesopotamians. Students wrote like a Mesopotamian by writing on a clay tablet. They read like a Mesopotamian when they read a translated version of the Epic of Gilgamesh about a great flood, which they compared to the story of Noach in Tanach. Finally, students played like the Mesopotamians when they played the board game, the Royal Game of Ur. (The wooden board game had been excavated in the city of Ur by an archaeologist in the early 1900s.)

The students also studied the Mesopotamian achievements that still impact us today. To study irrigation, an important farming invention of the time, they virtually visited the “Field and Fork Campus Food Program,” a farm on the campus of the University of Florida in Gainesville. Professor Dina Liebowitz showed the students around the farm pointing out how irrigation has evolved since Mesopotamian times. She also showed them how farms that are not in the Fertile Crescent have to fertilize the land.

To hone writing and researching skills, students selected one achievement from the time period and wrote about it. They wrote why it was useful at the time and how it has evolved since then. The most popular achievement among students was the wheel, but they also wrote about medicine, types of art, and the water clock.

As a cross-curricular connection, the class spent time making connections to Tanach—a very important part of our learning. While looking at an ancient map, students wondered what path Avraham would have taken to reach Canaan. When learning about each invasion of Mesopotamia, the class discussed who that nation was in the context of Jewish history. The textbook mentions the Assyrians, for example, who had a well-organized army and had their capital in Nineveh. The students studied the pesukim in which this nation, known as Ashur, is mentioned and recounted the story of Yonah. It was the city of Nineveh that Hashem wanted him to go to.

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