The Ottoman Empire or Chapter 24 hit home with me, as I grew up in Romania, and our medieval history was riddled with battles against the Turks. In fact, as late as 1878, Romania was fighting the Ottoman Empire or what had remained of it. It’s always interesting to read history from an English source, a source that would not be as biased as a Romanian historian, for instance.
My children did not appreciate the fact that Muslims took over Constantinople and called it Istanbul. My daughter, who loves art and would color anything, refused to color the page I had printed out from our history curriculum – a page depicting the fall of Constantinople. I then offered the portrait of Suleiman. She took one glance at him and said, “No, I don’t want to color him either.”
When it comes to coloring, I think it falls in the category of “busy work” unless the child takes great delight in it. So I don’t make my children color unless they really want to. Instead, we worked on a craft with dancing bears. We made the puppets and then we recorded a short clip of the kids working them as puppeteers, the way an itinerant Turkish entertainer might have.
I tried reading to them from a Romanian history book for children, “Mircea cel Mare si luptele lui cu turcii” by Nicolae Djuvara. We bought this book in the gift shop at Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle) when we were in Romania in April. My son wanted it. It has beautiful full-color illustrations, but I am afraid the level it is written on may be for higher grades than my children’s Romanian level. I got through the first chapter and then they started with all sorts of questions which revealed it was way over their heads. I put it back on the shelf for a later time.
This is a fairly long lesson, with four different story lines, so we had plenty to discuss as it is. I have given up on trying to read the recommended texts, whether fiction or nonfiction. Our goal at this stage is to introduce children to names, places, historical facts, and lots of vocabulary. I think we certainly accomplish that goal with the text of our history book.