Friday, September 26, 2008

Walk Like an Egyptian

We just finished a unit on Egypt and Mesopotamia. This is my second time to teach this unit.

Mummies, pyramids, rivers, crocodiles, the Sphinx, crazy pharaohs, deserts, cuneiform, hieroglyphics and ziggurats.

What boy doesn't love those things?

My boys felt like Indiana Jones.

In case you ever teach on Egypt, here are a couple things we have loved.

Write your name in hieroglyphics

Learn how to make a mummy with this game

We love this book:

There are a whole series of these books. The boys have checked some out from the library, but are slowly saving their money to buy each of them.

This book is kind of gruesome, but my boys were all about this story! I want to find out more about the Arabian Night books. When my guys get upset that I quit reading them a book, it's a winner! That's kind of rare around here.

I bought this book years ago. I highly recommend it for this unit. The book has a bunch of pictures you will need to teach the topics of Egypt, but also comes with a pull-out hieroglyph stencil. The boys used these to write secret messages to each other. What is it about boys that gets their blood pumping when decoding a secret message? They could hardly contain themselves.

Anson read this chapter book during this unit. Scieszka writes a lot of historical fiction. Anson always likes his books.

I saved a huge box when we were moving so the boys could climb inside and paint cave paintings. I turned the lights off in the garage, both the boys climbed in, working holding the flashlight, the other drawing important clues about their lives in 2008.

We also made Hayden into a mummy and buried him with some of his favorite things. Anson decided Hayden could never survive in the afterlife without ketchup, BBQ chips and his mp3 player.

We made clay tablets out of mud. Basically we just put mud on cookie sheets, let it bake in the sun until kind of firm, then wrote a message in cuneiform using toothpicks. Fun AND messy. The best part was banging the hardened mud out of the pans. I think they liked that noisy, messy step more than the actual project. You should have seen the back porch. You should also know that leaving toothpicks in the hands of little boys when they are unsupervised is just asking for trouble. This school day ended with me saying, in a very perturbed tone of voice, "Give me them. All of them! Why would you think it was okay to stab your brother?" Ah...boys.

I've been asked, several times..."Do you teach your kids about animal worship, polytheism and Greek mythology?"


We do.

I want them to know about all of these things. Teaching them about these hard topics that are contrary to our beliefs as Christians is important to us as parents. However, these units are also amazing times of teaching them the differences between what the Egyptians believed, and what we believe. We try not to leave things out of our history...because it's OUR history! In every piece of our past, we can clearly see that our problems as humans have remained the same. Everything scripture predicts about us, is so true apart from the knowledge of God.

So, common questions I asked the kids during this unit are:

Why do you think civilizations had a natural desire for laws and rules? (the Bible tells us why)

Do you believe that the pharaohs were part god? What does the Bible say about this?

What are the differences between what the Egyptians believed happened to people after they died, and what we, as believers know from scripture?

Of course, that's just our personal conviction on how to teach our kids. We would never be so arrogant as to think everyone should teach the same way.

Fun movies to watch are The Prince of Egypt and once the kids are older, we'll do the actual Indiana Jones movies. Right now that would freak them out...even the ones with appropriate ratings.

We reviewed deserts while we studied Egypt.

The Houston Museum has a pretty big exhibit on Egypt if you need a field trip.

And of course, no Hendrick education would be complete without music history.

If you've taught over Egypt, or have other ideas for books to read, hands on projects, or fun videos and movies, tell us!


Ashley said...

One of my friends did a similar learning unit...her daughter came up with this joke.

Q: How did horses communicate in ancient Mesopotamia?
A: Using cu-"neigh"-iform.

I thought this was very clever, especially since I had never heard of cuneiform.

bekah said...

Wow. This sounds SO fun! I wish I could teach about Egypt, or better yet, sit in on your class and get mummified!!!

Thanks for sharing! I can't wait until your book comes out.


Whitney Swanson said...

i love Egyptian history! When I studied Egypt in 5th grade, I did an extra credit project- i built a GIANT pyramid out of sugar cubes! it was SOOOO much fun! I also had to like write a paragraph or a page or something that gave some history about pyramids in Egypt, so that I actually learned something out of it :) Actually, I feel like you could really tie in math with that geometry. teaching them how to calculate the area of each level of the pyramid. and the perimeter, and. and what not. of course, that comes when they are like 8 or 9 at the earliest I guess..right?

heather are you writing a book?

Hendrick Family said...

Ha Whitney!

I saw Bekah's comment and thought to myself..."Am I writing a book?"

The only thing I can think of is maybe she's talking about Her Hands. It's in the process of being published through a company called lulu books.

We're hoping to have it ready soon.

If that's not what Bekah is talking about, then we're going to have to find her and ask her!


D.O. said...

The Dallas Museum of Art is having a really awesome, very big deal exhibit on Tutankhamun coming starting October 3rd.

(I already made mention of this over on Hayden's blog, which you've no doubt seen, but I thought I'd make the plug here too for all to enjoy).

Jon & Steph said...

OH MY- I must tell you how much I enjoyed this blog post. Great timing. I am teaching my students about hieroglyphics on Monday. I am sooo going to show them the "walk like an Egyptian" video... they will laugh so hard. They are 10th graders so I don't think we will use your other activities.
P.S. Ashely... that joke is amazing... I taught about cuneiform today. It is a "wedge shaped" writing system developed by the Sumerians in the Fertile Crescent.

bekah said...

No I meant your book on cool units. They just don't teach us this stuff in college. I just learned how to give standardized assessments. I love what I'm teaching now, but it just seems that education has gotten on a standardized testing tangent.

Its refreshing and encouraging to see hands on, authentic learning that kids are actually excited about.

I love the way you love them, and it is so fun to watch.

Jennifer Bacak said...

I love the Bangles.
I really, really want to wear a guitar and sing like that.
(Of course we love the Egypt learning. We mummified our children last year, etc. Fun.)

Alice said...

You are teaching your children to question things, I love that. You are asking them "what does the bible say about that?" Their lives will be so enriched because you aren't afraid of letting your children have a mind of their own. That is one of the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.