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Famous Figures of Ancient Times Review by Kathy and Linda Gelzer

Cathy Diez-Luckie
Figures in Motion
6278 Clive Ave.
Oakland, CA 94611

When we first began homeschooling, we chose the classical method for our history studies and hence began chronologically with the ancients. I was constantly on the lookout for quality hands-on activities to enhance our readings. How I wish Famous Figures of Ancient Times had been available back then!

This book contains full-page historical VIPs printed on cardstock to cut out and put together with little paper fasteners or eyelets so that the arms and legs can be moved at the joints. There are twenty figures in all, and there are two copies of each figure, one printed in color and one ready for the child to color himself. Here is a sampling of the famous people included: Narmer, Hammurabi, Moses, Aristotle, Hannibal, Jesus, and Constantine.

Famous Figures of Ancient Times is designed for ages 6-12. It can be used as a history resource as well as a supplement to a full history program. It is not designed to be used as a complete history curriculum by itself.

The drawn figures are beautiful. Author Cathy Diez-Luckie, a homeschooling mom, has a vast background in art, both educationally and professionally. The stylized figures are the perfect combination of detail and simplicity. My daughter liked them because they were "not cartoony" at all. She also especially liked the two-part arms, jointed at the elbow, to show natural movement and poses.

There is an amazing amount of detail included in the pre-colored drawings. Different shades of colors show the drape or folds of the garments, the shine of armor and jewelry, and the decorative clothing as well as the texture of the hair and beards. As detailed as the figures are, their outlines remain simple and easy to cut out. Perforated pages tear out easily to aid in the cutting out process.

Assembly is facilitated by capital-letter labels on all pieces. You simply match up the letter A on one piece with the letter A on a corresponding piece. You are even told which body part goes in front of the other. It couldn't be easier, and all figures are labeled with their names on the back so you remember who is who.

You will need a 1/8-inch hole punch and either small paper fasteners (1/4-inch) or 1/8-inch eyelets and a setting tool. We used the first method, but had to make a trip to the craft store since we didn't have the small hole punch or fasteners on hand.

In talking to my two girls, aged 8 and 10, we came up with some possible ideas for improvement. There are no women figures. Could some famous ancient women be included? Cleopatra perhaps? Since one of the suggested applications was to turn the figures into puppets with Popsicle sticks, how about including some basic plot lines or script starting points?

I highly recommend Famous Figures of Ancient History as a component for studying history. Since one set of figures is already printed in color, non-artsy students will still enjoy assembling and playing with these characters. This product provides a great way to increase involvement with the real players in ancient history and thereby increase learning retention.

Product review by Kathy and Linda Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2009