To kick off 2021, Windward’s 9th Grade History team collaborated with 9th Grade CREATE Studio Stewards to create an opt-in, hands-on, Cuneiform activity for students.
The 9th Grade History teaching team offered the DIY Cuneiform activity as an opt-in assignment that allowed students during this remote learning year to have a taste (literally!) of one of the elements that makes our course so special—the opportunity to do a hands-on history project. Having learned that writing first emerged during the Bronze Age, and, in Mesopotamia, took the form of Cuneiform, this project gives them the chance to engage with this ancient script in an intuitive and fun way. They also completed a textbook reading on Cuneiform and wrote a thesis statement—a skill introduced in this unit—about the extent to which that script converges with or diverges from other early forms of writing.
“Typical History classes (at least from my own experience) will have students learn about historical events and artifacts and perhaps how to develop and write a thesis statement, but rarely do they have the opportunity to further their knowledge of what they're currently learning through something experiential, relevant, and playful, like making their own Cuneiform,” said Max Nishimura, Windward’s Resident Tinkerer.
The CREATE Stewards created a video on how to design and bake edible cuneiform tablets, which they shared with their peers. The three Stewards who worked together to create the video on how to make Cuneiform cookies were able to express their creativity, and at the same time engaging in other valuable 21st century skills through collaborating, conceptualizing, and executing on their idea.
“This particular unit, and how it was conceptualized by the teaching team, is a great example of maker education. It's multidimensional, inviting and engaging, and embedded seamlessly in the curriculum,” said Max.
"History helps us grow." - Cuneiform tablet by Natalia Fishkin ’24
“Doing this project really helped to bring early civilizations to life. I was able to experience what a writer would have to do in the Bronze Age. Writing cuneiform made me understand the lengthy process of writing in this form. Now I know why it was such a big deal to have and use a complex language. Not only did cuneiform help early civilizations communicate, but it helps us to better understand and learn from our past,” said Natalia Fishkin ‘24.
Below, Henry Kaplan ‘24 displays his cuneiform tablet.
Below, a cuneiform tablet from Leyna Amin ‘24
“This project helped me learn more about Cuneiform, which I didn’t really know much about since I focused on Egypt and hieroglyphs. The process of writing cuneiform on a cookie made me realize how hard it would be to write entire texts and books with a stylus similar to a chopstick edge. This shows how important communication and preserving their ancestor’s stories was to them. It also made me realize how many different languages could have originated from Cuneiform and Mesopotamia or based some of their characters on Cuneiform characters. The project also helped me understand the process of writing, it’s evolution as well as the physical writing itself,” said Leyna.