I decided to include lessons I actually do with my son on here to help others come up with similar ideas that distance yourself from textbooks. There is so much information out there that textbooks are unnecessary unless your sick, or not in the mood, or your kid just wants to do it.
I love learning and I love it even more when I can learn with my buddy. Scientists are constantly obtaining new information that it evidently changes history. The Incas, as well as other civilizations from the Americas, was a topic I wanted Vincent to learn. Incas had a bigger empire than the Romans and were more organized and efficient. They created their own irrigation system to water their farmlands on the Andes mountains. That's right! They figured how to farm on a mountain. They had a courier system and accounting. It goes on and on.
To begin our lesson, I had picked up a video on the Incas from the library (one more suitable for children but that's not necessary). Kids Discover has a unit on the Incas as well as an Ipad app where they can have a 360 view of Machu Picchu.
This lesson can easily take up a week. For the math part of it, I focused on the Quipu, which the Incas used to account for people, animals, harvest, weapons, crime, taxes, etc. You will need different colored yarn to do it. We focused on the number of family members living on our block and their pets. For smaller children, they can do their immediate family; middle school students can do number of students in each subject or in a school; high school can do members of our federal or local government. It's really neat. Here's more info on Quipu:
Other fun Inca crafts you can do are the weaving, popcorn (yep that was their treat), sculpting one of their animal artifacts in clay, and making or drawing a headdress.
Once we learn about the Aztecs and the Mayans, I'm taking Vincent to the Field Museum to view the artifacts of all three civilizations. You'll be surprised to find many local museums might have some exhibit on these fascinating empires. For example, the South Florida Museum in Bradenton, FL has a lovely Mayan exhibit.
Here's a great video on the Incas- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR7of1Lkef0
*I forgot to mention that Vincent built a Inca building with Legos. Legos tend to be in a lot of our lessons.