Guess the Spices
As we study the Gateway to the Orient, we can recall the influence that the Orient had on Europeans and even American development. In the 13th century, Marco Polo made his journey to the East, returning with many new and exciting stories, foods, and clothes. This, of course, eventually led to Columbus' exploration to the west (in search of a better route to the East), where he found the Americas and brought back news of the new lands to Europe. But back to Marco Polo, one of the great discoveries he brought back to the Mediterranean was the many spices of the Orient.
As a pre-opening activity, set up a series of blind boxes that have different spices in them. Label the boxes with letters or numbers and list out the letters/numbers on blank pieces of paper. Have everyone go to each box to smell the spice and try to guess what it is. Some spices to include are pepper, cloves, mace and nutmeg, cinnamon, thyme, anise seed, bay, coriander, and marjoram.