The one thing the Energizer Bunny was excited about going into first grade was studying history – Ancient Egypt, in particular. She has been in awe of pharaohs and pyramids ever since she saw the movie Mr. Peabody and Sherman, where King Tut was mentioned — “His name rhymes with butt!”
If you have kids, you probably know how that particular body part keeps them in stitches. Not complaining if it ignites an interest like this!
But really, this little girl loves history – something that even my grade school teacher remembers I loathed! I am stoked that there are lots of interesting materials available to fuel this interest in my daughter while making me appreciate it in an entirely different light.
The vast amount of resources can get overwhelming though. So, whenever we do history unit studies, I trim it down to what I think are relevant, crucial to our World History subject, and fascinating.
Almost halfway into our school year, we finally had a chance to explore the life and times of Ancient Egypt. Here’s how we did it.
1. Set the Stage (Or Where in the World is Egypt?)
To put the entire unit study into context, we pointed out where Egypt was in our map. Using a map from this King Tut Mini-Unit, we identified the continent where it belonged and the shape of the country. The same unit study had a simple mapping activity which helped us get familiarized with the geography of Egypt.
Using the book History of the World Using Google Earth, we put our imaginary seat belts on and visited Egypt. We saw the Nile River, the Temple of Karnak, and the Great Pyramids of Giza up close. The Energizer Bunny was blown away! If you haven’t downloaded Google Earth yet, do it now! It is one of my favorite homeschool tools.
Resources used: History of the World Using Google Earth by Penny Worms, I Wonder Why Encyclopedia
2. Live Like the Egyptians
To get a glimpse of how they lived during those times, we explored the Ancient Egyptian homes, what they ate, their occupations, their system of government, and their beliefs about death and burial.
We previously talked about pyramids and the process of mummification prior to this unit study. The Energizer Bunny, however, enjoyed seeing it in action by mummifying an apple! We used 4 slices of apple in this experiment and tried to find out which will keep the best.
I scored this fascinating fact-filled book from our bookshop inventory and discovered a free app called TutTomb 360. The Energizer Bunny was in awe as she “walked” through King Tut’s tomb and explored how the Ancient Egyptians buried their dead.
Resources used: Pyramid by David Macaulay, The Egyptians by Alligator Books, Explore and Learn People of Time and Place (Volume 4 of the Explore and Learn Series), I Wonder Why Encyclopedia, HomeschoolShare lapbook, The Tomb of Tutankhamun: Discover Egypt’s Greatest Wonder by Stella Caldwell
4. Dress Like the Egyptians
Of course we had to dress like them! While the Energizer Bunny was decorating the Egyptian princess headdress and collar, we discussed the climate in Egypt and why they dressed in light clothes. We got inspiration for her costume as we read The Egyptian Cinderella.
Resources used: The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo, The Egyptians by Alligator Books, Egyptian Princess Headband template
5. Think Like the Egyptians
The Ancient Egyptians are called a great civilization for a reason! As early as 5000 years ago, they devised a system of reading and writing, built massive pyramids with their bare hands, and invented papyrus (the first paper) and sundials (the first time-telling device), things that have influence in our lives now.
We attempted to do a sundial but the weather was not cooperating, so that’s something to do again for next time. But our papyrus-making activity was a huge hit! Of course we had to write hieroglyphs on it like a true Egyptian, and the Energizer Bunny appreciated modern conveniences like pencil and eraser! (“Mom, what if they made a mistake?! They’d have to do it all over again!”)
Resources used: Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs by James Rumford, Making Papyrus video
We are now winding it down and tying up everything that we learned by listening to A Storyteller’s Version of Pharaohs and Queens of Ancient Egypt, an audiobook wonderfully narrated by master storyteller, Jim Weiss.
Can you say that we had a blast during this entire week of immersing ourselves in everything Egyptian?! It was light and fun, and yet provided the adequate knowledge that we needed to explore this great civilization’s history further.