Thursday, October 2, 2014

Early Egypt

Over the last two days, we have started our study of Ancient Egypt in our The Mystery of History Volume I text (Lesson 11). 
While we read about the Nile River, hieroglyphics, the pyramids, mummies, and the Great Sphinx, I let her hold my mini model of the sphinx (from my Safari LTD World Landmarks Toob).
 We then got into some more reading, with The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History ...
 ... Usborne's See Inside Famous Buildings by Rob Lloyd Jones (page 1 features "The Great Pyramid") ...
... The Usborne Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt by Gill Harvey ...
 ... Children of the Ancient World's If I Were a Kid in Ancient Egypt ...
... Usborne's See Inside Ancient Egypt by Rob Lloyd Jones ...
... (These See Inside books are so interactive!) ...
 ... Ancient Egypt by Robert Nicholson and Claire Watts ...
... Pharaohs & Pyramids by Tony Allan ...
... (This one has a great map of the Nile River Valley!) ...
... Look Inside Mummies and Pyramids by Rob Lloyd Jones ...
... and Pyramid by David Macaulay.
 Once we were done reading, we checked out this YouTube video, "Music in the Age of Pyramids."  The music was so interesting, but the images on this video are great, too.
 After that, we checked out a virtual street tour of the pyramids at Giza, thanks to the suggestion of my sister-in-law!  You can find this at
It was time for some fun activities!  First, as per the text, we sacrificed a roll of toilet paper for wrapping Mags up like a mummy!  (She loved this, of course!)
Once she was wrapped, I carefully laid her down, pretending she was going in her inner coffin.  (In the end, I'm not sure if she had more fun being wrapped or busting out of it all!)
 Once her wrappings were removed, we thought it would be fun to decorate a sarcophagus using the printable at
Looks great, Mags!
For lunch?  Mummy dogs, of course!  I added yellow rice ("gold") and mixed fruit ("jewels") for the mummies' tombs. 
She was thrilled!
 After lunch, we delved more into hieroglyphics.  I found this great little chart at that shows a picture for every sound in our alphabet.  I challenged her to write her name in hieroglyphics.
 She did it pretty quickly.
We also used this book with a stencil, Hieroglyphs by Joyce Milton.
 Here she is, stenciling away!
 Great work!
Once we practiced on paper, it was time to carve some hieroglyphics in "stone."  I got the idea for this at  The site has the recipe for the sand dough you will need to make it, but I would recommend you buy sand dough at the craft store.  Why?  It is a mess to make (my kitchen was covered in sand) and it takes a long time to get it mixed and I still don't think we had the right consistency.  But, she still seemed to enjoy it, so we went with it. 
 Once it was made, we rolled some out onto a plate and she started to "carve" into it with a plastic knife.
 It didn't look as good as the pictures on the site so I just told Maggie ours would be "more aged."
 Once we were done "carving" hieroglyphics into it, we laid it in the sun to dry.
I picked up this "Paint Your Own Papyrus" activity when we went to the Michael C. Carlos museum last week, so after our work with hieroglyphics, we got to work on this.
 Maggie's painted papyrus!
Then, it was time to start our "Ancient Egypt" history pocket for our "Ancient Civilizations" book we've been working on (thanks to our Evan-Moor History Pockets: Ancient Civilizations workbook).
 Here are our vocabulary words for this pocket.  (You lift the picture flap and the definitions are underneath.)
 Next, we put together the postcard from the workbook ...
 ... and mailed it to Maggie's Grandma and Grandpop!
Ancient Egyptian puppets!
 And a cute little 3D paper pyramid!
The last thing we put together for our pocket was this cute little foldable about the Nile River with a moveable crocodile.
All of these were placed in her "Ancient Egypt" pocket.  Great work, Maggie! 
The last project we did for this lesson was one I came up with after being inspired by this little Dover Three Egyptian Punch-Out Mummy Cases book (by A. G. Smith) I have.  I thought it would not only be great to make a mummy case, but then to actually use it to pretend to mummify something and make it a tomb!
 First, we picked out a case and put it together.  These are so cool.
Next, we picked out a poor soul among Maggie's toys (Sorry, Kermit!) and began the process of mummifying him.  Here, Maggie is cleaning the body.
 In this picture, Maggie is adding "natron" (really, just bath salts) to Kermit to help dry him out for preserving.
 Poor frog.  Maggie kept referring to him as the "Dead Frog Pharaoh."  Funny.
 Once he was in the natron for "40 days" (or two minutes in our time), he was removed and then cleaned off again.
 Then, we began the process of wrapping him in bandages (AKA: TP).
 Once he was properly mummified, we laid him in his coffin.
 Then we prepared his "tomb" (diorama).  Using some old scrapbooking paper I had, we covered the inside of a small box.
 Once our walls and gold floor were done, we brought in the "Frog Pharaoh."
 We added some "treasure" from around the house.  We put in this little gold table from one of her play sets and this large cat bead to serve as one of the canopic jars. 
 We also added fruit, fish, and honey thanks to the generosity of Maggie's Calico Critters.
 Maggie added small beads, gems, and shells, too.
 We even filled small glass jars with small, shiny beads and gold glitter for Kermit's tomb.
 What fun!
 RIP, Kermit, "Frog Pharaoh."
And I have to share ...

Last week, when we went to the Michael C. Carlos Museum in Atlanta, we saw so many neat Egyptian artifacts!  This first picture shows Maggie in front of a mummy (2345-2181 B.C.) of a young man wrapped in many yards of linen soaked in tree resin to stiffen the fabric and allow it to be modeled in the shape of the body beneath the wrappings.  Such early attempts at mummification were more concerned with mimicking the outward appearance of the individual than preserving the body.  The deceased is shown lying on his side in a sleeping position with his neck cradled in a headrest.  It was not until later that mummies were uniformly buried in a prone position.
This room was SO COOL!
Here is Maggie in front of a canopic jar (1938-1759 B.C.) made of calcite.
This sarcophagus of Asetirdis (150-100 B.C.) is made of limestone.
This is a bowl of natron, the salt that was used to dry out bodies for 40 days before mummification.
 Canopic Jars
If you live anywhere near Atlanta, make the trip to see this exhibit!  It is amazing!


  1. The biggest FLOP of my entire homeschooling career.......many years ago while studying Ancient Egypt we tried to mummify a chicken. (That came from Story of the World Activity Guide, as I recall.) The biggest debacle you could EVER imagine. Horribly disgusting. I look back now and laugh....I remember standing in the kitchen BY MYSELF up to my elbows in salt because it was so gross the kids wanted nothing to do with it. Gee....they learned a lot from that one!

    The next round of Ancient Egypt we mummified a Barbie instead! :-)

    We also did a big Egyptian feast one year and the boys got to roll up their Grandma in toilet paper. Such awesome family memories we create with this awesome gift of homeschooling, right??? I just love it!

    1. LOL, Brooke! Too funny! Yes, homeschooling is so cool! I wish all kids had the opportunity. God has blessed us greatly. :)

  2. I stumbled here from googling "Egyptian headrest" and skimmed the post. Interesting teaching methods used here. The kermit mummification seemed the most profound. Though, that 1:1 hieroglyphics chart seems sketchy.

    Also, cute kid. That smirk in the picture captioned "'MAGGIE'" is incredibly endearing.