A Taste of Mesopotamia in 5th Grade Social Studies

Students in 5th Grade are engaged in a study of Mesopotamia, which was home to some of the earliest human civilizations. They have been learning about the geography of “the land between the rivers,” through texts and maps, gaining an understanding of how these ancient peoples were both helped and hindered by the region’s unique geography and climate. Students applied these insights by performing dramatic skits and painting original landscapes, and stepped further into the shoes of Mesopotamia’s original inhabitants by exploring some of the grains, herbs, and spices they commonly cooked with.

On “Meet Your Grains Day,” 5th Graders felt and smelled barley, farro, coriander, cumin, rosemary, thyme, mint, and even had the chance to taste dates and pomegranates. They recorded and discussed their observations of each, as well as their associations; many students had their own meaningful memories of growing or cooking with some of these items, which they were able to use to vividly imagine the experiences of the region's inhabitants. Now that students have a sense of some of the tastes, smells, and textures of Mesopotamia, they are excited to check out some of its tools and other artifacts next week, when they will visit the Ancient Near East galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.