Old Scrolls with a Secret Message: How HomesCool is that?

Oh my,  we  have  probably made so many  “old” scrolls and treasure maps as HomesCoolers! They’re just instant WINNERS for young children. Of course, you’ve got to create a setting to stir some excitement regarding the reasons behind such projects.  You can  easily find stories to set the stage for this or watch movies like maybe Indiana Jones ( the children friendly edition) or read material that include maps to treasure or scrolls with secret message. I particularly love stories from the Bible.

For our HomesCool, we had just finished a unit of how the Christian Bible was put together.  Of course, we had to discuss a lot of things first like how people began to write, or draw, what they used to create the figures or “letters”  and on what medium ( papyrus, clay, stone) to write on. For many years now, we’ve been using the Mystery of History for our World History and we are now in the 1600s!  (Imagine we began around 7000-10,000 BC??) and it chronicles the evolution of writing and many written works, one of which is the BIble.  For our 1500-1600s lessons, we learned of great men who fought to allow the “common man” to read and own a Bible: Martin Luther, John Wycliffe and William Tyndale.

Central material in our homeschooling. Using this for 10 years now and we are at Volume 3. snails pace but it works for us!
Central material in our homeschooling. Using this for 10 years now and we are at Volume 3. snails pace but it works for us!

 

To “vicariously” try to experience how it was to write messages prior to the the invention of mechanical movable  printing in the 1430s, I asked the children to make “hidden messages”.  Oh the passing of the Word of God during the 1500s  was exciting and dangerous.  It was possible that some had to write them and pass them around in secret. This made the kids excited and so working on this was really a breeze and fun!

But first, we had to create the “medium on which to write’! The Scroll!  So what makes a scroll look  real?  It has to be have the signs of “age” like discoloration, torn areas, and a rough, crumpled texture. So here is how to do it.

1) Choose a card stock paper or board paper in white/ beige range of colors. 12 x12 size or bigger is ideal since you may need to cut off the edges later for some dramatic effect.

2) Oh let the kids have fun : crumple and trample the paper. Pound it but don’t destroy it.

The crumpled, trampled sheets of 12x12 scrapbooking paper ( you can substitute with hard cartolina
The crumpled, trampled sheets of 12×12 scrapbooking paper ( you can substitute with hard carolina

 

3) Prepare some brown based hot tea. (Be careful with the kids around). I haven’t tried green tea on this so  I am not sure if this will create a similar effect. Let it cool.  Get an adequately sized tray or basin, where you can soak the crumpled paper for maybe 5 minutes.

Be careful with hot water when around children.
Be careful with hot water when around children.

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Don't oversoak since this may destroy your paper.
Don’t oversoak since this may destroy your paper.

 

4) Dry them under the sun. Make sure you put some paper weight on them on a windy day .

The wating begins. I love projects like this because it teaches patience!
The wating begins. I love projects like this because it teaches patience!
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Oh no, it rippled! But then we said, “But that makes it more real.” Could you imagine what the authentic scrolls had to weather through and how archaeologists have to be trained on carefully handling scrolls? Don’t you just love HomesCooling this way, when an “error” can be turned into a teaching opportunity?

Do they look authentic enough?

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And  for the exciting part! (  Looking back, we should have burned it first before the written message.)

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Safely, burn the edges with a tea light candle. Thinking again, I should have done this outdoors to be extremely safe.
Safely, burn the edges with a tea light candle. Thinking again, I should have done this outdoors to be extremely safe.

 

We got some “chalk” and started smudging to make it look more “dated” ! How fun is that!

We tied this activity with what we were studying in Christian Living/Bible subject, the  importance of God’s Word in a Christian’s life so the children memorized  the  Psalm 119:105  “Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”   So  for a while, at that moment, I felt a deep, overwhelming gratitude ( and I am hoping my children felt that too) for the heroes who have gone before us to make sure that the Word is passed on.

So now we came to that point of what to write in our “old scroll”?

Will they draw symbols, will they put a treasure map?  As they were thinking, I tried to give them ideas ( hoping not to quash their ideas but trying to steer them to tie the whole UNIT of study together). I just said, “Imagine yourself as a child in your current age, a  thousand years ago . What message would you like to give to another child your age?  ”

That got them thinking.  Then I said, since it was a period of dangerous times, you need to send your message in a secret code! Then you hear the most coveted HomesCool response of “Ooooohhh, Ahhhh”!

So off they went on making symbols for each letter of the English alphabet. Oh my, I was floored seeing how detailed and patient they were in creating their “code”. While doing this, I tried to save them by suggesting, you can also draw like the Egyptians (thinking how tiring this must have been for my younger 9 year old) ! But they were having fun! Who gets tired anyway when you are having fun, right?

Raya tested it first. She is into calligraphy now but opted to use sign pens first., fearing that she may destroy the scroll with ink and a calligraphy nib.
Raya tested it first. She is into calligraphy now but opted to use sign pens first,  fearing that she may destroy the scroll with ink and a calligraphy nib.

 

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Raya added drama using her knitting needles!
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Gino fretted a bit because of the spaces and misalignment of his “sentence” .  So teacher Mama said. ” Back in those days, it’s possible they had different rules ( and mentioned how the other cultures like the Japanese read their text in a different direction) and what you may think isn’t right now, may be really ok back then.” I had to stop myself from going further….. “Beauty is in the eye of the……..” Sometimes I get carried away, you know?

 

Now, here is the secret code :

Raya's secret code and scroll
Raya’s secret code and scroll
Gino's  secret code and scroll
Gino’s secret code and scroll

Now,  can you decode their messages?  Let us know if you got it!  I have to really give it to Gino and Raya for their amazing determination and patience in completing this unforgettable scroll!  Clap, Clap, Clap! Take a bow, kids!

Psalm 119:105  Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

2 Timothy 3 :16 All Scripture is God breathed. It is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking and training in righteousness.

For Mystery of History books, you may purchase them locally from Homeschooling Solutions, Inc.