Have I mentioned lately how blessed I am to have grandchildren? Better still, to have grandchildren living in the same town. I’m telling you…life just doesn’t get any better. The good LORD sure knew what He was doing when He created grandchildren. And mine are such happy, fun-loving creatures, my cup runneth over.
Well, once again, I was invited, by my oldest granddaughter’s teacher, to throw a party for their history class. Not only was I thrilled to get to do it, but in sharing the details with you I’m getting to relive all the best moments. I was disappointed though, that I was given such short notice I barely had time to gather my thoughts let alone make authentic foods, so we had to improvise on most of it. But don’t worry, if you dropped by for recipes and party ideas I have all of that information below, and hopefully next time I’ll get a little more notice so I can make it all authentic – which is the thing that truly makes my tail wag.
What is a “Bring & Braai,” you may be asking? Well, basically it is what we in America would call a Backyard Barbeque (cook-out). In South Africa it is traditional for the guests to bring beverages, side dishes, snacks, and whatever meat they want to eat. The host is in charge of providing the backyard and doing all the grilling. It is such an integral part of South African culture that they even have an annual holiday to commemorate it. And, you know how Chevrolet used to have a little ditty in their commercials here in the States that went… “Baseball, Hotdogs, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet” to epitomize all things American? Well, in South Africa they had the same tiny tune but with these words: “Braaivleis, Rugby, Sunny Skies, and Chevrolet.” (Braai is short for Braaivleis, which in Afrikaans means “roasted meat”). Let me tell you, they are serious about their Braai!!!!
So, the students were learning about Colonial Africa 1750-1950, and to culminate their studies it seemed perfectly appropriate to celebrate with a “Bring & Braai.” We held our little shindig out on the back playground. I drug all the picnic tables over and set them together, covered them with animal print tablecloths, and put some African art objects as centerpieces. I set out Mancala games for each pair of students and set up my little Weber grill with charcoals (wood is preferred in South Africa but charcoals are an acceptable alternative). I put a Soweto Gospel Choir CD in the boom-box, tossed an African Dashiki Kaftan (dress) over my clothes, and gleefully welcomed my guests.
The students arrived with their foodstuffs in hand (chips and dips, sodas, etc.) and we set them out on the buffet table. I informed them a little bit about what a South African Bring and Braai is, and then I started my sausage braaiing (grilling). I explained that cooking the meat is always the man’s job but that in this case we had to improvise. In true Braai fashion, the women always gather in the kitchen to make the salads, sides, and snacks, while the men congregate around the grill and indulge in their manly chit chat. The only time a woman is allowed near the grill is to deliver snacks to the men and then be on her way back to the kitchen. (LOL!)
The three most popular elements to a traditional “Bring & Braai” are Boerewors (you’ll hear how to pronounce this in one of the You Tube videos I share below), Chakalaka (a sort of side dish/condiment, served warm or cold), and Pap (sort of like firm but creamy white grits, or crumbled white grits – “Krummel Pap“) served warm. I wanted to keep things simple, so the kids brought chips and dips, and soda pops, and I provided the sausage and “chakalaka” – Boom!!!!
There are lots of foods that are popular in South Africa. Maybe you’ve heard of Peri-Peri Chicken? It is a spatchcocked chicken slathered in spicy Peri-Peri sauce and braaied on the grill. I’ve made it and it is delicious!!!! Check out this video to see how it’s done. A traditional Braai is all about the meat, and there is often quite a variety, especially when the guests are bringing their own.
Perhaps you’ve heard of other African foods, such as Bobotie? Or Bunny Chow? Or Potjiekos?
Well, today we are learning about Boerewors. I had to improvise on the sausages I made for our party because I didn’t have time to order the sausage making supplies and there was nowhere in my little town to find such a thing already made.
Boerewors translates as “farmer” (boer) “sausage” (wors). It is from the Dutch influence, is made into a long spiral shape, and is often skewered to keep it together while cooking and flipping.
To make your own Boerewors you’ll need a sausage maker. If you have a Kitchenaid, you can purchase the sausage maker attachment. Otherwise, there are several options on Amazon. I have an old fashioned hand crank meat grinder, so I decided to order the manual sausage stuffer along with a package of small batch home pack hog casings so I could try making it (for my next attempt at this party). You can also find the sausages for mail order, or perhaps you are fortunate to live near an African market or restaurant.
This video seemed like a good one to demonstrate to you how to make this sausage, also how to pronounce the name, and includes a good recipe.
Prep Time2 hours 40 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Total Time3 hours
Equipment 12″ wooden skewer, Sausage stuffer
This iconic sausage blends ground beef with spices, wrapped in hog casings, before being cooked on a braai (or grill, as we would call it). It is left in the large spiral of one hog casing and not portioned into individual sizes. This sausage has a coarse texture, sort of like a Bratwurst or Kielbasa, and the use of coriander seeds and nutmeg gives the meat a unique flavor that’s enhanced by flame cooking. It is often served on a roll (a boerie roll, as it’s called) with a traditional sauce called chakalaka (see recipe below), a topping made of tomato, carrot, onion, beans, and spices.
3 lbs ground beef
2 lbs ground pork
1 lbs ground pork fat
10 tsp whole coriander seeds
2 tbsp allspice
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground black pepper
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ cup malt vinegar
⅛ cup Worcestershire sauce
7 oz natural sausage casings (pork)
Add the coriander to a dry frying pan set over medium heat and toast until aromatic. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Place the toasted coriander seeds into a spice grinder, or pestle and mortar, and grind into a fine powder. Mix the other spices, salt and pepper into the ground coriander.
In a large bowl, use your hands to work together the ground beef, pork, pork fat, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and then mix the spices in until well combined.
Cover the meat and spice mixture with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator for at least two hours.
Once the meat has rested, pipe the mixture into the casing, making sure not to overstuff. If using a sausage stuffer, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
You can either shape the sausage the traditional way, keeping it long and wrapping into a spiral, or you can form individual sausage links, 6” long.
When ready to cook, bring your grill to 350°F (180°C).
Insert 12” wood skewer through the center of boerewors from one side to the other. This will help hold it together and make it easier to flip over during cooking. Or, you can place the sausage in a grill basket.
Once the grill is at temperature, place boerewors on grill grates. Cook the sausage gently so that the casing doesn’t split or burn before the filling is fully cooked. Grill for 5-8minutes per side, until sausage internal temperature is 160°F (71°C)
Remove boerewors from grill. Slice to serve and enjoy with or without a bun. Top with Chakalaka or serve it on the side. Or serve without the bun, with Pap (or Krummel Pap) and Chakalaka on the side.
We had, as our one and only side dish, baked beans, which were a stand in for the Chakalaka. Real Chakalaka is spicy and has shredded/minced veggies mixed into the beans. It is easy to make. Here is a video that demonstrates how it’s made…
There are lots of videos out there which use slightly different spices, but basically the same ingredients (onion, garlic, bell peppers, shredded carrots, baked beans, hot peppers, curry powder, and other herbs and spices).
Pap (pronounced “pop”)
Similar to white cornmeal mush/polenta or smooth grits, and once fully cooked is about the consistency of thick mashed potatoes. Can be enjoyed plain with butter, cream, or olive oil, or you can add cooked onion, garlic, parsley, chives, or make it cheesy by stirring in some shredded cheese in the final step, or even make it sweet by adding maple syrup to the plain buttered version, and serve for breakfast.
It is easy to make, if just a bit time consuming – like making risotto, sort of.
This is a Cheesy Pap recipe:
And this is a creamy, buttery Pap with parsley:
Since I will have another grandchild in this history class in a couple of years, I hope I’ll get another chance to execute this party. If not on the school campus, though, it will make a great family fun thing to do in our own backyard to celebrate and learn about world culture.
And now we’ll move on from the food to the games….
This game is known by various different names. It is readily available at most department stores where games are sold and isn’t expensive. You could even make one for free out of an old ice cube tray or egg carton. The kids could even decorate a homemade one with paint or markers, and then use dry beans, beads, buttons, or small stones for the game tokens. It’s actually a great game to have on hand for grandchild sleepovers.
Just in case you are not familiar, this short video explains and demonstrates the basics of how the game is played:
There are actually several ways to play if you do a search. This is another video that shows how the game is played (simple version) and also features a hand carved game table which features two games.
As well as there being several ways to play, there are also a few different Mancala boards. Most are for two players, but here are a couple of 4-person boards I found.
One of the students brought a 4-person board.
We rounded out our party by learning a few SOUTH AFRICAN SLANG WORDS AND PHRASES WE ALL SHOULD KNOW…
Colloquial language is an especially fascinating cultural product in South Africa thanks to the wide variety of languages spoken in South Africa. Locals tend to borrow words from each language, resulting in slang words or phrases known as ‘South Africanisms’. If you’re visiting South Africa any time soon, it’s useful to know a few turns of phrase to help you along the way.
In South Africa, ag [agh] is not short for aggressive or agriculture — it’s a filler word to express irritation or resignation. Example: ‘Ag, no man!’, or ‘Ag, let’s go.’ (In America we might say Ugh!)
Skinner [skuhn-her] is Afrikaans slang for gossip. Example: ‘Don’t skinner about me.’
Lekker [lek-uh] is a widely used term indicating that something is ‘great’ or ‘nice’. For example, ‘The food was lekker’, or ‘We had a lekker day.’
Kief [kif], derived from Arabic (kayf), means cool, great, awesome or neat. Example: ‘That’s a kief car!’
You’ll often hear South Africans mention that they will do something ‘just now’. This does not mean they’ll do it immediately, but rather a bit later. It may sound illogical but makes complete sense in South Africa!
Indaba [in-daa-bah] A conference or expo, from the Zulu word for ‘a matter for discussion’.
Braai [br-eye] is a widely used noun and verb for an outdoor ‘barbecue’ where meat is cooked over a fire or coals. Example: ‘We’re having a braai tomorrow.’ ‘We braaied the meat yesterday’. A braai is a popular social event in South Africa and even has its own dedicated public holiday, known as National Braai Day, which coincides with Heritage Day celebrated annually on September 24.
Shame is a typical South African expression for sympathy or admiration. Example: ‘Ag, shame man, poor girl!’ ‘Shame, he’s so cute.’
Eish [aysh] is a colloquial exclamation of surprise, disapproval, exasperation or regret derived from Xhosa. Example: ‘Eish, my cell phone broke’.
Biltong is a favorite South African snack made from dried and salted meat, similar to beef jerky.
Boerewors [boo-ruh-vors] is an Afrikaans term for ‘farmer’s sausage’ — a traditional South African meat often enjoyed at a braai.
Sharp [shahp] is often doubled up for effect (sharp sharp!) and means ‘goodbye’ or that everything is great.
Is it? [izzit] is an expression frequently used in conversation meaning ‘Is that so?’ or ‘Really?’.
Dop is slang for an alcoholic drink. It can also mean ‘to fail an exam’. For example, ‘Pour me a dop,’ or ‘I’m gonna dop that test’.
Jol [jawl] is a widely-used term for ‘club’, ‘party’ or to ‘have fun’. Example: ‘We had a jol last night!’
Shebeen [sha-bean] is an illegal tavern derived from Irish (sibín). It refers to unlicensed bars that were set up in townships during apartheid (segregation) and frequented mainly by black South Africans. It has since become a mainstream word.
Sho’t left is derived from everyday South African ‘taxi lingo’. A commuter wanting a ride to a destination close by will say ‘Sho’t left, driver,’ meaning ‘I want to get off just around the corner.’
“So Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.'”
Well, y’all, today was a privilege of privileges! I got to throw another school party for my grand’s World Studies class. We seriously had sooooooo much fun! Praise the Lord for His graciousness. I love sharing these class parties with you all in the hopes that you will find something inspiring, or useful, that you can do with your kiddos. I can barely organize my thoughts to tell you about it all. I’m blogging about it with a full heart that truly did not want the time with them to end. It was a case of having too many things that I wanted for the kids to experience (story of my life), and having much too small of time for us to actually accomplish it all with quality. We managed to squeeze everything in, but we sure could have used another couple of hours.
Their teacher very capably led their studies through the chapter on Australia and Polynesia in their World Studies book, and then generously and graciously allowed me to step in for a brief moment at the end of the chapter, to share the things I’ve collected from all over the world, which in this instance were a few things from the Land Down Under. The Lord has graciously provided over the years for me to get to have these things, and not only that, but also to allow me the opportunity to utilize the deeply compelling, God-given passion that’s in my heart, which is to research, and plan, and cook, and decorate, and bring the cultures of other peoples to life.
This party was all about Australia, from the indigenous peoples to the settlers. We learned about Digeridoos, Dancing Sticks, Boomerangs, and Bull-roarers. We ate Aussie Meat Pies “with sauce” – the national food of Australia, Tim-Tams, Pavlova, and some varieties of licorice “lollies.” We were able to experience a sniff of Vegemite (the kids were too chicken to taste it – although I had snuck some into the meat pies when I made them, so they actually had tasted it and didn’t know it – Ha!) And we all got to taste a glassful of Bundaberg Ginger Beer. So delicious!!!! We also listened to some Australian music, a mix of both the indigenous peoples and some modern top-50.
Side note: Ask me how glad I am to have a Cost Plus World Market fairly close-by. Unfortunately, they have discontinued carrying ANZAC Biscuits and didn’t have any Lamingtons. The even more sad thing was that I was too pressed for time to be able to make very many of the things at home that I wanted to this go around – but I have included all the recipes below for you (and myself), in case you (or I) ever want to try this party (again) at home for a Birthday, or dinner party, or family get-together, or for your school, or Homeschool World Studies unit, or for a church function (perhaps you have some displaced Aussies in the congregation who are maybe feeling homesick, or missionaries to the Outback whom you could honor), or whatever the occasion!!! Perhaps you just want to try some of the lovely foods from down under?
Okay, I’ll start with
Music and Decorations…
I had ordered this tablecloth (above) on Amazon, but it never came. ☹
Fortunately, I found this one on eBay and it arrived just in the nick of time. 😊
The food on the table also served as decoration (more on that below), but I also tossed around a few stuffed animals, some real boomerangs, and some Aussie flags and road signs to lend atmosphere. One of the student’s fathers had a real digeridoo, which he allowed his son to bring to the party. It was really heavy, made from a real tree, and decorated with real tribal designs. It was very cool. I also contributed to the party decoration by wearing a t-shirt that said “G’day Mate!” on the front of it. It made me happy all day just wearing it. And I had made some little road signs and Aussie flags to scatter around on the table. I have a friend who lives in Geelong and is a huge “footy” fan, the Cats in particular. She sent me some souvenirs of the 2009 Premiers, because of course the Cats were champs that year!!!!! I wished I could have found stuffed animals of all the Aussie animals, instead I ended up getting a t-shirt, which featured at least 10 of them.
This is the music I had playing when the kids entered the classroom, so they could hear what digeridoo sounds like, but I was cautious about playing it for a long length of time, or too loudly, or to meditate on the sounds too closely, since the indigenous people call it “dream music.” I don’t know if the sound of it opens you up to a spirit world (the way worship music does for Christians), but I didn’t want to go there.
And this is the CD that I played after we had made our dancing sticks. I found a used original online for $6 – a find of the century as it is out of print. It has all the favorites on it. “Down Under” by Men at Work, Waltzing Matilda by The Outback Singers, and an audio passage from The Man from Snowy River by Fred Hollows. Absolutely perfect!!!!
So, I wanted the kids to have an opportunity to try playing a digeridoo, but I didn’t want them passing around my real digeridoo and spreading germs during cold and flu season. So, we made one per kid using gift wrap tubes (which I had asked parents to provide, while they were massively available during the holiday season). The kids then used paint to decorate their digeridoos with various tribal designs.
Click on the link above and then scroll down to the bottom of the webpage until you see this video, pictured below:
I premeasured lengths of thin paracord and stuffed them in baggies, and I also predrilled holes in the jumbo craft sticks (tongue depressors). It made it super easy to pass out the elements. All the kids needed to do was thread the string through the hole and they were ready to use. I had the kids decorate their sticks with Sharpie markers, and then we all went out into the great room to give them a whirl, (literally)! This was probably the most fun experience of the whole party.
The same man (David Hudson) who did the video on digeridoo playing also did one on how to make a cardboard boomerang, which he called a “Roomerang.” The kids watched the video, and then I passed out the strips of cardboard that I had precut. I marked the center to help the kids be able to attach the two pieces properly, and we fastened them with glue dots, which worked like a charm. I had made a few as examples, and also so that I could test them to see if they really worked. They did, but, not as well as his did in the video, but maybe with practice. I found that they worked best when held between thumb and pointer finger right at the base and flicked vertically, and sort of towards your right (if you are right-handed). It takes a little practice.
How to make a kids’ Carded Boomerang (“Roomerang”) with David Hudson:
In this video (link above) he also talks about the designs, which are special to the Gubbi Gubbi/ Kabi Kabi people. These were my examples:
And finally, our last activity was to make the dancing sticks. The same David Hudson as did the Roomerangs, and Digeridoo has a teaching video on how to make the dancing sticks, I basically followed his instructions, except instead of using the clear shipping tape that he uses, and then wrapping it with string, I used a decorative Duct tape to save a step. I also used Bamboo because I have it growing in abundance in my yard and am always looking for useful opportunities to get rid of it. Come to find out, bamboo does grow in the very northern area of Australia.
What Australian party would be complete without food? Top of the list has to be the national dish of Australia – the Aussie Meat Pies, and then Tim-Tams, Vegemite, and Pavlova! I really had ambitious plans for this party, and although I didn’t have time to make everything I wanted to, I’m including the recipes for everything I wanted to. That way, if you (or I) ever want to make these lovely morsels, we’ll know where to find all the recipes in one place.
First things first, Americans need to know how to eat a Vegemite Sandwich, because most of us try it and do it all wrong, and end up spitting the nasty gack substance out into the garbage can with a majorly disgusted look on our faces. So, I thought it fitting to let Hugh Jackman give us a proper demonstration:
I found Vegemite at Cost Plus World Market, but unfortunately the parent who was supposed to bring the white bread and butter for the party, well ooops they forgot. Meh! It happens. 😦 So, I wasn’t able to make a Vegemite Sandwich for the kids to try, nor was I able to make Fairy Bread for the kids to sample either. I was disappointed, but we had lots of other stuff to eat and do, so I eventually got over it. LOL
This is Fairy Bread:
All you do to make the Fairy Bread is toast and butter some slices of the cheap, soft, white bread (just like you do for the Vegemite Sandwich) and then cover the topside with sprinkles. They can’t be just any sprinkles though; to be truly OZ-thentic they need to be the tiny round sprinkles you see in the photo.
Aussie Meat Pies
I made a batch of these before the party just to see what they tasted like, and I think they are quite similar to a sloppy joe in a pie crust. I did them exactly the way Aussie Girl Can Cook does in her video, but to be authentic the bottoms of the pie are supposed to be a “short crust,” which, in America, is just a regular pie crust, and only the tops of the Aussie pies are supposed to be puff pastry. I made mine in a muffin pan. And I didn’t have enough puff pastry to do the tops properly, so I used the little bits of corners that I had snipped from the squares to make them round. Didn’t have to cut a vent hole that way.
So, because I was extremely pressed for time, this is how I made mine for the party:
Mrs H’s Aussie Meat Pies
3 12-oz. packages (8-count each) of Texas Pie Company Pastry Shells, sold exclusively at HEB
1 17.3 oz. package Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Sheets
2 pounds ground beef
1 onion finely chopped
1 24-oz. can Hunt’s Manwich Sauce
Enough chicken stock to make a little gravy
1 tsp. Vegemite
I started my process 2 days before the party by cooking the beef filling first and then placing it in the fridge. Cook the ground beef until browned, add onion and cook until slightly softened. Pour in the Manwich sauce and stir. Let simmer on stovetop for about 10 minutes. Add enough chicken stock to make the gravy and let it cook down to thicken. Stir in the Vegemite and remove from heat. Let cool slightly and transfer to a food storage container. Place in fridge overnight.
The next day take the frozen Puff Pastry out of the freeze and set on counter top to thaw. Take the Pastry Shells out of the freezer also and arrange on a cookie sheet. Flatten the edges of each shell to remove the decorative ridge, then put the shells in a 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes (as directed on the package). Pull the shells out of the oven and immediately begin filling each with about a small ice cream scoop full of the chilled meat mixture.
On a slightly floured work surface, unwrap and gently unfold one sheet of puff pastry. Use a drinking glass or biscuit cutter (that is roughly the size of the tops of each pie), cut circles in the pastry. If you run out of dough, the bits can be collected and gently kneaded on a floured surface and then rolled out with a rolling pin. Let rest a few minutes and then cut more circles. One package should cover 24 little pies, if you are frugal. Take a circle of puff pastry and hold it in one hand, dip a finger of your other hand in a cup of water and moisten the pastry all the way around the edge on one side. Lay the moistened side down on top of a meat pie, stretching if needed, and then press it against the pastry below with your thumbs. Use a fork to seal the edge all the way around. Continue with the next pie, and the next, until you have finished covering all your pies.
Beat an egg or two in a small bowl and then using a pastry brush, brush the egg over the top of each puff pastry top. A little milk can be added to the egg if you need to stretch it to have enough for all the pies. Use a knife to cut a little vent hole in the center of each pie.
Place the pies in a 350 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top crusts are shiny and golden brown. I think mine might have baked longer than 30 minutes, but my oven has been weird lately. Just keep an eye on them to get that beautiful golden-brown color. Remove from oven. Let them cool slightly and then remove them from the pie tins. They can be served hot at this point, plain, or with sauce (ketchup).
If you want to serve them the next day, just let the little pies cool completely on a baking rack (removed from the tins) for about 10 or 15 minutes. Place the cooled pies in a single layer in a large zip-loc bag and then pop them into the refrigerator for overnight storage, or they can be individually wrapped, tightly, in plastic, and then placed into a zip-loc bag and into the freezer for longer storage.
The next day place the pies on a cookie sheet and pop them into a preheated 350 degree F oven for about 20 to 30 minutes. If they are frozen they can be removed from their wrapper and baked in the same temp oven, but may take a little longer to reach a safe 165 degree internal temperature. We also tried reheating them in the microwave for about 3 minutes and that worked also. Serve plain or with sauce. (My hubby likes salsa on his – he likes salsa on everything. Ha!).
Outback Barbie (what we States-side would just call a BBQ
Once a good fire is established in the firepit, put on some shrimp (what we call prawns), snags (sausages – kind of look like fat hot dogs or short smoked sausages), and Barramundi (a type of fish). There’s also many things that are and have been cooked up over fire in the wild, and that’s what Australians call Bush Tucker (Bush Food).
NOTE: many of the foods in Australia are like the foods we have in America. They harken back to both of our British roots. In Great Britain the meat pies are often served as a pie floater, which means they are perched in a pool of mushy peas.
Other common foods are beef stews, chicken and dumplings, pot roast, meatloaf, baked chicken, and that sort of stuff. There is a large Malaysian, Polynesian, and southern Asian influence also, just as there is Chinese food, Italian, French, Cajun, etc. foods here in the U.S. There are also animals, berries, fruits, and herbs (and even bugs) that are native to Australia, like Wattleseed and Lemon Myrtle, that are often used in Australian cooking. I enjoy watching Marion Grasby’s You Tube channel. She makes lots of Asian infused Australian foods.
Tim-Tams can be purchased in the U.S. Amazon has them, and they are at World Market. They are kind of like a chocolate wafer/biscuit sandwich with cream filling, and then coated in chocolate.
ANZAC Biscuits were a type of eggless oatmeal cookie that were sent to the soldiers who were off fighting in war. They are made of oatmeal and coconut, and to make them properly you must use Lyles Golden Syrup. Australia celebrates a national holiday called ANZAC Day every April which gives the whole country a public holiday from work. It is a day for Aussies and New Zealanders to honor those who fought and lost their lives at war and also to honor those who serve in the military for the freedom of their country. Similar to our “Memorial Day” in the USA.
Australian Women’s Weekly published this “Best ANZAC Biscuit Recipe of All Time.” I say we give it a try!
4oz butter, chopped
2 tablespoons golden syrup or treacle (see tips)
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2 tablespoons boiling water
1 cup rolled oats (see tips)
1 cup plain (all-purpose) flour
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup desiccated coconut
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two large 9 X 13” baking pans; line with baking paper.
Stir butter and syrup in a medium saucepan over low heat until smooth. Stir in combined soda and the water, then remaining ingredients.
Roll level tablespoons of mixture into balls; place 2 inches apart on lined trays, then flatten slightly.
Bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Cool biscuits on trays.
Spray your measuring spoon with a little cooking oil spray before scooping up the golden syrup; this will help prevent the syrup from sticking to the spoon. Make sure you use rolled oats rather than quick-cooking oats as they will produce a different result. Store biscuits in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
These can be purchased, but are not difficult to make. They are basically a sponge cake cut into blocks, dipped in chocolate icing, and then rolled in finely chopped desiccated coconut. Martha Stewart has a lovely recipe; click on this link (Martha Stewart’s Lamingtons) and you should end up there, unless they have moved it since this post was created. In that case here is a print out:
I found a variety of licorice at World Market. It’s a little bit different from the licorice we’re used to. Sooooo yummy!!!
The utter queen of desserts. It is a meringue-based dessert named after the Russian ballerina, Anna Pavlova. It is said to resemble her flowing layered ballerina skirts. It is crisp on the outside and marshmallowy on the inside, and topped with whipped cream and various fruits. There are vanilla Pavlovas, and chocolate Pavlovas, and I even saw a lemon Pavlova – which would be a perfect way to use all the egg yokes (lemon curd) and help counter balance all the sweetness.
I decided to try using a carton of liquid egg whites to see if it would work, rather than have several egg yokes to have to deal with. It didn’t work quite as well as it probably would have with freshly cracked egg whites, but it did work, and got raves from all of those who sampled it at the party for the first time ever in their lives.
1 cup cage-free 100% liquid egg whites + 1 freshly cracked egg white (save the yoke to brush on meat pies)
2 cups of regular white sugar
½ teaspoon of pure Vanilla
1/8th teaspoon of Cream of Tartar (or may substitute 2 tsp of lemon/lime juice or white/apple cider vinegar)
2 teaspoons Corn starch
You will also need parchment paper, a large cookie sheet, a 340 degree preheated oven, a pan with water, and a rubber spatula, and then some fresh sweetened whipped cream, and an assortment of fresh fruits.
I decided to do the Swiss Meringue technique, which is to dissolve the sugar in the egg whites in a double-boiler before whipping. I placed about 2 inches of water in a saucepan and turned it on to boil. While I waited for that, I measured my egg whites and sugar into a stainless steal bowl that I could perch on top the pot of water. As soon as the water boiled, I turned off the heat and let the water cool for a few minutes. Then I set my bowl of egg whites and sugar on top and used a whisk to stir, stir, stir, lifting the bowl from the pan of water occasionally, just to make sure I didn’t cook the eggs at all. I reached in and mushed the mixture between my fingers a couple of times to see if it was still gritty, and once it felt not gritty I took it off the water completely and started mixing it with the mixer.
I only have a hand-held Kitchen-Aide mixer, and wasn’t sure if it was powerful enough to do the job. It seemed like it took forever for the eggs to start turning a glossy white. Finally, after 10 minutes or so I began to see a soft white mixture, and that is when I added all the other ingredients (vanilla, Cream of Tartar, and Corn Starch, and I also added a splash of lemon juice in case my cream of tartar wasn’t up to snuff – it’s not something I use very often). I scraped down the sides of the bowl and went back to mixing. It took a really long time, maybe 20 minutes or so, but it finally started getting the stiffer peaks. The videos I watched said you can’t over whip it, so I just kept whipping, and whipping, hoping to achieve stiff peaks I saw in videos. When I thought I had achieved it finally, I stopped whipping. My poor little mixer was getting warm.
I got a large cookie sheet, put a dab of meringue in each corner, and placed a sheet of parchment paper to cover the pan (the dabs of meringue keep the parchment from moving around. Then I dumped the meringue in the middle of the pan. I didn’t fuss with trying to shape it. I just sort of made a depression in the center and called it good. Mine didn’t set up tall and hold its shape like the ones in the videos, which is when I realized I probably gave up beating it too soon. Oh well. I guess we’ll see.
I placed the meringue into the oven and immediately turned the temperature down to 190 degrees F, and set the timer for 65 minutes. After the 65 minutes I turned the oven off, but did NOT OPEN THE DOOR. I left the meringue in the oven overnight. I did peek through the window though and it looked to be the same size and shape as when I put it into the oven (hallelujah), only it had a slight baked tint to it, and only had a couple of hairline cracks on the side. Praise the Lord – so happy!!!!!! Hoping for the best.
While the Pavlova was in the oven, I made my whipped cream. I put about 2/3 of a pint size carton of heavy whipping cream into a cold bowl. I added about 2 slightly heaped Tablespoons of powdered sugar, and ½ a teaspoon of pure vanilla. I started the whipping process slowly to incorporate the sugar, and then as the mixture started to thicken a little, I increased the speed. It was messy and there was spatter, but as soon as firm peaks appeared, I whipped a smidge more and then stopped beating (fearing I’d end up with butter). I immediately transferred my whipped cream to a covered container and into the fridge to be used on my meringue first thing in the morning.
I decided on the following fruits: Strawberries, bananas, canned mango drained, blueberries, and kiwi. I waited until right before serving to top and decorate my Pavlova. I started by removing the meringue from the oven and carefully and gently peeling away the paper. I placed my meringue in the center of a large platter, and then dumped my whipped cream on top and spread it out a little. Then I started decoratively piling on the sliced fruits and blueberries (Uh Oh, what happened to my banana? Okay, minus the banana, I must have dropped it on the sidewalk somewhere between my car and the school).
OMGosh, it looked amazing!!!! The kids thought it was fantastic, and the teacher and other staff who sneaked in to try it said it was to die for. No one had ever eaten Pavlova before – which is probably my saving grace.
This is a photo of my attempt:
And what to drink? …
In conclusion, if we want to sound like Aussies for a day here are some Australian Vocabulary Words:
G’day Mate = hello
No worries = not a big deal
Sanga = sandwich
Lollies = sweets/candies
Bush Tucker = Outback Food (that’s native to Australia, and grows in the wild)
Aussie (pronounced Ozzie) and is why Australia is sometimes called Oz
The land down under = Australia
Wallabys = kangaroo (aka ROOs)
Joey = baby kangaroo
Billabong = a pond in a dry river bed
Dingo = a wild dog native to Australia
Footy = What Aussies call football
Kookaburra = a type of bird native to Australia
Walk-a-bout = a hike or vacation (traveling)
To “Captain Cook” something = is to Take a Look at something
That’s the way our little affair got started. Let me tell you the tale of a Renaissance Escape Room that happened recently, one very foggy mid-autum’s day. The Jr. High students of our quaint little school had been looking forward to this day for weeks. They picked out costumes from the Drama Department’s costume closet and daydreamed through chapel just waiting for the chance to crowd into their classroom and see what awaited them there. Their laughter and excitement filled the room, but in just a moment it was all abrutly interupted by aTown Crier with news! She shouted out to them in a booming voice, and that is when they discovered their mission.
She then exited stage left and our dear “Mrs. Hollingsworth” appeared (which just so happens to be a real English renaissance family name from my own family’s history – how about that for a little historical fiction to go with our turkey legs). She was dressed as the rest, but in a red velvet costume, and when she cleared her throat a faux English accent came out. She addressed the students thustly:
“Hello, I am Mrs. Hollingsworth. I’ve come to help you. We are going to have to be sneaky and very quiet so as not to draw attention to ourselves. We’re going to need to split up. Here, I’ve put some slips of paper in this black sock. Each of you must draw a slip out and then sort yourselves into your teams.
White team, your area of the room is over there. [she pointed]
Red team, yours is over there. [she pointed]
And Green, yours is there. [she pointed]
You must stay in your area until you have completed your tasks. I’ve put together an envelope for each team. You will find them once you enter your area. Read the outside of the envelope and follow its instructions.
Your knowledge of the Renaissance is all that will save you now. Okay, be off!!!!! And good luck.“
The room was divided into 4 areas, using long classroom tables. Each area was clearly labeled, Red, White, and Green. The kids were divvied up into their 3 groups and sent away to their respective areas to begin their escape. It started with reading the outside of the envelope and then dumping out the contents. They had the choice of solving a puzzle that would tell them where to look for their 8 questions, or they could just look for them if they were feeling lucky. Most decided “just looking” sounded good. They found questions stuffed in bottles, and questions stuffed in boxes, others stashed in books , and books made out of boxes. They were high up and low down, on top of things, and underneath.
Let’s start with the Envelopes, please…
(In the interest of full disclosure, the images on the envelopes for the questions and puzzles were taken from a purchase of materials at Teachers Pay Teachers. I’ll tell you more about that a little later in this post. But I used their template for the question cards,although I made many of my own questions using our school’s World Studies Textbook, along with information found in various other books, such as these, and some online sources).
I organized all the Level One questions to be about Famous Artists & Architects of the Renaissance. Level Two questions were about Famous Explorers & Navigators of the Renaissance. Level 3 questions were about Famous Inventors & Humanists of the Renaissance. Level 4 questions were about Famous Thinkers & Philosophers of the Renaissance. Level Five questions were about Famous Writers & Composers of the Renaissance. And, Level Six questions were about Famous Mathematicians & Influencers of the Renaissance.
I made a cheat sheet for each team, printed on both sides. I wanted them to be able to check their answers, but also, since I had included some information that wasn’t in their textbook, I wanted them to be able to find the correct answer for the things they didn’t know about. Here are the CHEAT SHEETS, and QUESTIONS, and MASTER LOCK CODE SHEETS for each team…
Level One Questions Cheat Sheet. Did you know that the Renaissance was a “rebirth” of art and architecture, deliberately anti-Gothic/Medieval? Because of the wealth of citizens, and the church, many works of art were commissioned (that means the artist was hired and paid a certain amount of money for his creation). During the Renaissance the wealthiest and most influential members of Italian society were called Patricians. Before the Renaissance, only royalty, religious leaders, and the very wealthy could afford to have their portraits made. The Renaissance produced a booming economy, and ordinary people could then afford such things. There was a humanist (human virtue) interest in art, and a renewed interest in mythology as subject matter for art. The Medici family, the richest and most prominent family in Florence, used their wealth to sponsor new artists and help fund the humanist movement. The Medici family became wealthy from banking, mining, and trade. The Medici family paid Brunelleschi to build a massive domed cathedral in Florence. Brunelleschi studied ancient Roman ruins to help create his unique architecture. Architecture during the Renaissance combined perfect mathematical proportions, domes, and classic columns. Religious works, portraits, and landscapes were mostly displayed in public; while mythologies and nudes were generally displayed in private homes. Some of the greatest artists and architects of this period are listed below.
Famous Artists and Architects of the Renaissance:
• Filippo Brunelleschi – famous for the dome of the Cathedral of Florence
• Ghiberti – famous for the doors of the Baptistry of Florence
• Sandro Botticelli – famous for his Adoration of the Magi, Primavera, and The Birth of Venus
• Titian – famous for The Assumption of the Virgin, Pesaro Madonna, Bacchus and Ariandne, and Venus of Urbino
• Leonardo da Vinci – often referred to as a Renaissance man, was a painter, sculptor, architect, inventor and writer. He created the most famous painting in the world, The Mona Lisa. Her portrait demonstrated his mastery of 2 new painting techniques, Sfumato (blends colors to create a smoky effect) and Chiaroscuro (uses light and dark to create depth and texture). Some other paintings include Adoration of the Magi, The Virgin of the Rocks, and The Last Supper. His sketch books contained drawing of various machines, some that could be used as military weapons, and others that were beneficial to the advancement of medicine. The final drawing in his sketchbooks was the Vitruvian man inside of a square and a circle. The term Renaissance Man refers to a person that was talented in may areas.
• Raphael – was a painter and architect born in Italy. He painted his greatest work called The School of Athens. He also did an oil painting called The Sistine Madonna. It features two cherubim (angels) at the bottom. These angels have been featured on stamps and t-shirts, and many other memorabilia of modern day.
• Donatello – famous for his Bronze David and his later stone David sculptures, as well as many Biblical figures, his innovation of shallow bas-reliefs, and his larger architectural reliefs.
• Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, otherwise known by his first name. He created a statue of David which features realistic muscles, joints, and veins. His works also include the sculptures of Bacchus and Pietà, and painting of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, which was commissioned by Pope Julius II. He also designed the dome on top of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
• Giotto di Bondone – was the first Renaissance painter in Florence, Italy. He broke away from the typical Byzantine style. He painted people and objects that looked natural, not abstract. His paint style became knows as realistic painting.
Level Two Questions Cheat Sheet. Did you know that the Renaissance was a “great re-awakening” of exploration and navigation? During this period, there was a great renewal of interest in the ideas of ancient Rome and Greece. Many of the leaders of the Renaissance, who were born in the different city-states of Italy, found inspiration in these ancient writings and wanted to know more by studying art, architecture, and culture. Some brilliant minds pursued knowledge through the study of math, geography, and science. All of this expansion of knowledge contributed to the exploration of the world, which was both good and bad. The famous Silk Road, a once-prosperous trading route, had become very dangerous with tribal groups reclaiming land and charging fees for passage, or taxes on goods. Europe was desperate to find a route to China and India (where their most treasured exotic goods came from), that would avoid these dangerous middlemen. Many explorers and financiers of the age were also unfortunately desperate for fame and fortune and conquest. Part of the reason explorers were able to travel farther from home had to do with advances in navigation and shipbuilding techniques. Not only did Europeans hope to find direct routes to places with exotic goods, some European kings and queens were inspired to send expeditions out for religious reasons as well.
Famous Explorers & Navigators of the Renaissance
Niccolò De Conti – was a self-funded explorer, mostly by land, and one of the first Europeans to reach Indonesia and Burma. He shared many exciting stories about people, spices, animals, and geography. His travels helped to improve maps of Asia, such as the Genoese, and his experiences also helped to create a map of the world.
Christopher Columbus – made 4 legendary voyages. His maiden voyage was funded by Ferdinand and Isabella (King and Queen of Spain) in April, 1492. That voyage included three ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and his flagship, the Santa Maria. He named the first island where he landed San Salvador, in hopes that the natives would find “salvation in Christ.” He is credited with discovering the “New World.”
Vasco de Balboa – is best known for the discovery of the Pacific Ocean. Balboa started a European settlement in Antigua del Darien, on the east coast of Panama. Hearing that there was a sea on the south side, he journeyed across the Isthmus of Panama and sighted the Pacific Ocean while standing on a peak. The Spaniards called the Pacific the Mar del Sur (South Sea). The expedition descended the mountain and become the first Europeans to navigate the Pacific Ocean off the coast of the New World.
Hernán Cortés – is famous for a legend where off the coast of Veracruz, he burned his ships in a do-or-die effort to conquer the land. He warred against the Aztecs and their leader Montezuma II, and lost all of his treasure and most of his men in The Sad Night.
Amerigo Vespucci – a great navigator, explorer, cartographer, and cosmographer and is where the continents of the Americas got their name.
Ferdinand Magellan – was a Portuguese explorer and navigator who led the first successful circumnavigation around the word. Unfortunately, he did not finish the journey, but his surviving crew members managed to complete this history-making voyage. He was the first observer of a previously unknown species of penguins, discovered galaxies, and was the first European to cross the great Pacific Ocean. He discovered a shortcut through Chile in South America, which became known as the Strait of Magellan. Besides the strait, Ferdinand Magellan also has a rail car (Ferdinand Magellan Railcar), lunar craters (Magelhaens and Magelhaens A), and even a penguin species (Magellanic penguin) named after him. His expeditions showed clearly that all the world’s oceans were connected.
Marco Polo – though born very early in the Renaissance period, probably inspired some of the enthusiasm for exploration through his book, “The Travels of Marco Polo.” Young Marco became a trader, traveler, adventurer and storyteller. His life inspired a children’s game that is still played today.
Juan Ponce de Leon – was rumored to have been looking for the “fountain of youth.” Served as the first governor of Puerto Rico.
Sir Francis Drake – Accompanied John Hawkins in a voyage of the slave trade. Became a privateer who attacked and plundered other ships. Was considered a pirate by the Spanish, but a hero by the English. Was given a fleet of 5 ships by Queen Elizabeth I and his expedition was only the second in history to sail around the world. He brought back lots of treasure for the queen. The queen knighted him and he was known as Sir Francis Drake thereafter.
John Cabot – was an Italian explorer sent by King Henry VII of England to the New World. It is believed that he landed in what is now called Newfoundland, in Canada, and was the first explorer to find that part of the world since the Vikings who had traveled there many centuries before. On his second voyage his ships were lost at sea and the fate of John Cabot is uncertain.
Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco da Gama, and Pêro Da Covilhã are a few other famous explorers, but there’s not enough room to talk about them.
And these were the questions that were hidden all over the room (inside of books, and boxes, and bottles, etc.)
This was their code sheet:
Level Three Questions Cheat Sheet. The Renaissance began in Florence, Italy somewhere in the 14th century (1301 to 1400) and lasted until sometime in the 17th century (1601-1700). Humanism played a big role during the Renaissance? Humanism was a cultural movement, and idea that everyone should seek to be educated in arts, science, and literature. It was a time when human emotions were expressed in the form of art. It made the people think about their own lives and less on spiritual ideas. This new idea about education and emotional art quickly spread to Venice, Rome, and Milan, Italy. Eventually, new ideas spread throughout Europe. The start of the Renaissance brought an end to the Middle Ages. The fall of Rome brought the beginning of the Middle Ages. People were more consumed with survival during the Middle Ages. They didn’t have money or time to learn or to study. They were mostly poor farmers/peasants serving the royal class. Advances and progress in science, art, and government were lost during the Middle Ages. This part of the Middle Ages was referred to as The Dark Ages. The Renaissance was a time to “come out of the dark.” Renaissance means “rebirth.” The Black Death delayed economic grown in northern Europe. Many believe the Renaissance began with the invention of the printing press. The printing press made books and written materials more easily available, and because of the rise of the middle class and new found wealth, people were eager to learn and prosper. People began to feel better about themselves and optimistic about life.
Famous Inventors & Humanists of the Renaissance
Erasmus of Rotterdam – was one of the most highly regarded and influential scholars of the Renaissance. He mastered Latin and Greek. He was the first to publish a Greek New Testament, which was an essential tool for the Reformation.
Leon Battista Alberti – a humanist author, artist, architect, poet, priest, linguist, philosopher, and cryptographer.
Thomas More – was a close friend of Erasmus and served in the court of King Henry VIII of England. His work, Utopia (which means “nowhere”) is a story about an imaginary country based on Christian principles, and the philosophy of Plato. In this work More presented his view of an ideal state. More supported the supremacy of the Pope and rejected the Reformation.
Johannes Gutenberg – inventor of the printing press
Leonardo da Vinci – inventor of many, many, many types of machines.
Galileo Galilei – was
Niccolò Machiavelli – created a new branch of political science based on humanist principals, where human interests were the priority.
Francesco Petrarch – was known as the “Father of Humanism.” He studied Ancient Rome’s poets and philosophers. His poetry became inspirational to other writers.
Level Four Questions Cheat Sheet. During the Renaissance, people loved learning about new ideas and having their old ideas challenged and changed. They were thirsty for knowledge about art, biology, mathematics, astronomy, chemistry, literature – everything! The printing press made it possible to mass produce books. As books became readily available, more people learned to read, and new ideas spread faster than ever. During the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church played an enormous role in European life, but during the Renaissance people began to have different religious views. The first book to be printed on a printing press was the Gutenberg Bible. During the Renaissance, people (called humanists) were more interested in finding and studying the original versions of texts. They began to interpret writings in different ways, and to ask questions. Universities across Europe played extraordinarily significant roles in the Renaissance and the Reformation. They hosted innovative research in many fields and changed forever European religion and society. Universities and their professors may have had greater influence on society in the Renaissance and Reformation than in any era before or since. That influence endures to this day.
Famous Thinkers & Philosophers of the Renaissance
Francis Bacon – argued for an approach to scientific research based on observation and reason.
Desiderius Erasmus (of Rotterdam) – was a Dutch philosopher and Catholic theologian. Among the humanists he was given the nickname “Prince of the Humanists,” and has been called the “crowning glory of the Christian humanists.” He wanted to introduce humanistic enlightenment into the Catholic Church without breaking with Rome. He mastered Latin and Greek. He was the scholar behind what is now known as the Textus Receptus, when the only Bible available at the time was the Latin Vulgate. His versions were used by Martin Luther for his German translation, and William Tyndale for the first English New Testament, and also contributed to the Robert Stephanus edition of the Geneva Bible and the Authorized (KJV) Bible.
Thomas More – a close friend of Erasmus, served as lord chancellor in the court of King Henry VIII. His work, Utopia (which means “nowhere”) was a book of social and political satire which presented his views of an ideal state.
Filippo Brunelleschi – was at first a goldsmith, and made a living making jewelry. He competed for the commission of the Baptistry doors, but bowed out when they wanted to team him with another artist and went to Rome. While there, he studied ancient Roman ruins, and in the process of making detailed drawings of them, rediscovered a lost artistic technique known as linear perspective. He also solved major problems in architecture and was able to construct the largest dome ever built without wood supports. Because Brunelleschi never wrote down his designs, historians have struggled for centuries to unravel the secrets of his success. It is still not fully understood how he accomplished what no one else has ever been able to do.
Niccolo Machiavelli, an Italian philosopher, created a new branch of political science based on humanist principals, which emphasized human interests over religious views. He wrote groundbreaking books about politics. One small “mirror book” called The Prince, which has been translated into dozens of languages and read by millions. Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin kept a copy of it on their nightstands. His last name became a euphemism for everything bad in politics. Lying, cheating, scheming, backstabbing, killing—are all qualities associated with Machiavellianism.
Nicolaus Copernicus – worked out accurate measurements of the earth in relation to the sun.
Garardus Mercator – outlined an approach to scientific inquiry that changed several branches of science. Queen Elizabeth gave him the nickname, “Little Lord Keeper.” He was the first English writer to use an “Essay” format.
And this was their code sheet:
Level Five Questions Cheat Sheet. Thomas a Kempis authored the book, The Imitation of Christ, which is still in print today. The Canterbury Tales is a collection of twenty-four stories written in Middle English by Geoffrey Chaucer and can also still be purchased today. Did you know that the Elizabethan Era is famous for the works of William Shakespeare? It was the Tudor period of England’s history, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. This “golden age” represented the apogee (which means the peak or highest point) of the English Renaissance. The era is most famous for it’s theatre, but it was also an age of exploration and expansion abroad. The circumnavigation of Francis Drake brought wealth to England.
Famous Writers & Composers of the Renaissance
William Shakespeare – was an English playwright, poet, and actor. He is credited as having written 39 plays, 154 sonnets, 3 long narrative poems, and a few other verses. His most notable works are “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “All’s Well That Ends Well,” “Anthony and Cleopatra,” “Romeo and Juliet,” “Hamlet,” “Macbeth,” “Othello,” “The Comedy of Errors,” “The Taming of the Shrew,” and many more.
Petrarch – was a scholar and poet of early Renaissance Italy. One of the earliest Humanists. His rediscovery of Cicero’s letters is often credited as initiating the Renaissance. His notable works include odes and sonnets to Laura, the idealized subject of his chaste love, Triumphs, Canzoniere, Secretum Meum.
Dante Alighieri – wrote his narrative poem/book, the Divine Comedy in 1308. The first part of this epic poem is Inferno, often referred to as Dante’s Inferno. It describes Dante’s spiritual journey through hell, guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil. It includes nine concentric circles of torment located within the earth. Inferno (hell) is followed by Purgatorio (Purgatory) and Paradiso (Paradise/heaven). His book is considered the greatest piece of literature written in Italian. Iconographic images from Donte’s Divine Comedy have been painted inside the dome of the Cathedral of Florence, the brainchild of Brunelleschi.
Nicolaus Copernicus – was an astronomer and one of a handful who believed that the sun was at the center of the universe and that the earth and planets revolved around it. He proved in his book, On the Revolutions of Heavenly Spheres, that the heliocentric model was correct, backing up his theory with mathematical equations. It was Johannes Kepler that later proved Copernicus right. Also, Galileo, developed telescopes powerful enough for astronomers to see for themselves that Copernicus’s heliocentric model was accurate.
Machiavelli – is famous for his little book, The Prince, which was a how-to or guidebook for rulers. He was called a lot of bad things, including “devil” and “monster,” but nothing indicates that he was ever terribly “Machiavellian.” He was influential, but never sought power for power’s sake. And every devious strategy he described in the book was based on the actions of others.
Erasmus of Rotterdam – was known as the “Prince of the humanists.” Was a friend of Thomas More and was staying at his home when he composed what is considered one of the most important works of the Renaissance, “In Praise of Folly.” In this work, Erasmus took a humorous approach to old superstitions and corruption in the Catholic Church. He dedicated the essay to More.
Sir Thomas More – was famous for his book, Utopia, which was his idea of the ideal society. He was very religious and served as lord chancellor to King Henry VIII.
Castiglione wrote a book on manners and etiquette (social behavior). His book was titled, The Courtier.
Level Six Questions Cheat Sheet. Did you know the Renaissance began in Florence, Italy somewhere between 1350 and 1400 and lasted until the mid 1600s. The Hundred Years War took place between 1337 and 1453 and ended in a French victory. During the Hundred Years War, a peasant girl from France named Joan of Arc believed she was being led by God to drive out the English. The French defeated the English under her leadership, but the English later captured her and burned her at the stake. The Black Death may have started in China and by 1347 had spread to. It claimed the lives of an estimated twenty-five million Europeans. The Renaissance (which means “rebirth”) was a period of great awakening of classical arts, culture, science, medicine, education, literature, art and music. It was a time to “come out of the dark.” The Renaissance began as more and more people were able to afford to learn to read and write, the printing press made printed materials more available, and the Italian seaports traded goods as well as new ideas.
Famous Mathematicians & Influencers of the Renaissance
Nicolaus Copernicus – was the mathematician and astronomer who formulated the model that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not the other way around.
Galileo Galilei – was an Italian mathematician credited with creating the first modern telescopes, which supported Copernicus’s idea that the Earth revolves around the sun.
Johannes Kepler – was a German astronomer, mathematician, astrologer, natural philosopher, and writer of music. He is best known for his laws of planetary motion, as well as his books Astronomia Nova, Harmonice Mundi, and Epitome Astronomiae Copernicanae. He was a contemporary of Galileo Galilei.
Johannes Gutenberg – was a German inventor, printer, publisher, and goldsmith who introduced printing to Europe with his mechanical movable-type printing press.
Henry VIII – was king of England from 1509 to 1547. He is credited with initiating the English Reformation by separating the Church of England from papal authority. He appointed himself Supreme Head of the Church of England. He also invested heavily in the navy. He made radical changes to the English Constitution.
John Calvin – was a French theologian, pastor, and reformer in Geneva during the Protestant Reformation. He developed a system of doctrine known as Calvinism.
Elizabeth I – was Queen of England and Ireland from 1558 to her death in 1603. She was the daughter of Henry VIII.
Pope Julius II – was head of the Catholic Church and ruler of the Papal States from 1503 to his death in 1513. He was nicknamed “the fearsome Pope.” He chose his name in emulation of Julius Caesar. He was one of the most powerful and influential Popes. He established the Vatican Museums and initiated the rebuilding of the St. Peter’s Basilica. He invited Raphael to decorate some rooms in the Vatican. The Catholic Church – used their wealth to make extravagant cathedrals, ornately decorated inside with architecture, paintings, sculptures, expensive doors, and domes.
Martin Luther – was a German priest, author, and hymnwriter Catholic friar responsible for starting the Protestant Reformation.
Lorenzo de Medici – was a poet, known as Il Magnifico (“The Magnificent”), the wealthiest and most powerful man in Florence. He was a supporter of humanist thinkers and a great patron of the arts.
And this was their code sheet:
The Question cards were hidden individually all over the room, but each team needed 2 puzzle cards and those were hidden together in a locked box for each team. The students had to find and answer all their questions correctly (8 per team), plus find the key for their locked boxes (which I hid in books and in a soup can), and also the locked boxes themselves. Once they figured out the codes for each of the the Questions. Those codes would then be used for finding the FINAL MASTER CODE that would unlock the final “Escape Door.”
These were the puzzle cards I used, and I got them from a kit I purchased of a Renaissance Escape Room. This is where you can get your kit: Escape Room EDU @ Teachers Pay Teachers. It is very well done and very inexpensive. They actually designed it to be used in connection with the internet, but it works easily without it. Since there is nothing on the website or in the printed materials to forbid me sharing these images with you I included them here. Please, though, go visit that website and download your own complete kit. Please support the hard working people that put these awesome things together. It is only a few dollars and very well worth it. I altered the Level 6 card.
Once some of the students had finished this first part, they needed to wait for all the teams to finish in order to go on to the next part as one big group. So this is when they were invited to feast. And what a feast it was!!!!! Bread and wine (okay, grape juice), grapes and pears and apples, cheese curds, jello – did you know that gelatin was invented (discovered?) in the Renaissance?, carved meats and roasted turkey legs, pies and tarts., beer and ale (okay Root beer, and Ginger ale). The kids sat at a table fit for King Henry VIII.
After about 10 minutes, since no one had noticed a certain incognito item that was crucial to the success of the mission, I asked if anyone had seen the tag thing that was hanging from Da Vinci’s the LAST SUPPER painting, which was hanging on the wall by the table of food. Of course the kids made a bee-line over there to check it out.
The tag was attached with a string to a note that was taped to the back of the painting. It said:
“What is missing from DaVinci’s Last Supper Table, that is always part of our Communion Table?”
They searched and searched…
…and someone blurted out, “THE CHALICE!”
Under the CHALICE was a note tucked inside of a little blue envelope that said:
“Look under the drawbridge!”
…and so they did!
Under the drawbridge was this TAP CODE/Polybius Cipher puzzle which needed to be solved. It required all teams to come together with their Master Lock Code Sheets, plus the box that had the 3 colored blocks in it (which hadn’t served a purpose yet), and a cipher key.
This was the cipher key to the TAP CODE/Polybius Cipher:
If you’ve never done one of these before, each letter of a word is represented by two numbers. It helps if the first thing you do is draw a slash between each pair of numbers in the puzzle. Then tackle the first pair, which in our case is 55. First go 5 spaces across the top, and then 5 spaces down. So 55 equals W. 32 is 3 spaces over and 2 spaces down and is an H. 43 is 4 spaces over and 3 spaces down, which is O. So, the first word is WHO. To make the puzzle more challenging, remove a few letters in this key.
After solving the puzzle, the question is asked, “Who found the blocks in the box?” One of the kids remembered and ran and grabbed the box. There were three blocks in the box. One block was Green, one was White, and one was Red. The Green block had a code written on it: “Level 3/Q2/Digit2” (or something like that). The White one and Red one also had a similar written code. Each number of the escape code came from a different team’s code sheet.
The kids were sure they had figured it out. They jumped up and ran to the door. They twisted the numbers on the wheels of the luggage combination lock to enter the code: [?] [?] [?] and voila, SUCCESS!!!!!!!!! The lock popped open and the kids escaped, exactly 30 seconds before the end of the class period. YAY!!!! They got to keep their heads.
Inside the locked pouch I had placed bookmarks, one for each student, with their names on them, and an exclamation that said, “I Escaped the Renaissance!” The kids got to keep their drink goblets and the bookmarks as souvenirs. And they seemed to have had a really fun time. Half of them had to hurry off to their next class, but the other half stayed and helped me clean up, and haul all my decorations and food service out to my car. What a great group of kids.
“To be, or not to be: that is the question.” — “Hamlet”