Egypt

Ages 6-8+

Why I Built This Kit:

Curator Rebekah K.

Curator Rebekah K.

One summer day, while I was riding an elephant, I began to imagine I was in Egypt. I imagined the pyramids, shimmering in the desert sun. I imagined we rode along the Nile River looking at colorful treasure cities. Then a question popped into my mind, “were there elephants in Ancient Egypt?” That year I looked for all of the information I could find about Ancient Egypt. I read articles in the encyclopedia and checked out library books. I found out that Egyptians had things made out of ivory but they didn’t use elephants as much as people in Ancient India did. Along the way, I soaked up a lot of information about Egypt. I’ve been hooked ever since. Whenever I’m in an area where a museum has an Egyptian exhibit, I make my way there. Your young reader probably loves reading everything they can get their hands on when it comes to their favorite subjects. This is what great readers do!

Of all of the subjects young readers ask me for information about, Egypt ranks among the most popular. I love indulging my young friends’ interests by providing as many resources as possible on their favorite topics. Of course it helps that Ancient Egypt’s history is intriguing and many of their contributions are still used today.


Books

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Mummies Made In Egypt

Author: Aliki

[Mummies Made in Egypt] (describes) Egyptian gods and goddesses of the dead; explains the symbols and foundation of the belief in the afterlife; (and presents) the elaborate rituals (and methods of mummification). . . . The art is stunning, the text uncompromisingly informative and clear. (New York Times)

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Hieroglyphs from A to Z

Author: Peter Der Manuelian, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

Awards: Gelett Burgess Children's Book Honor

The combination of the favorite alphabet book format with information about Egypt is a winner. I like that each letter of the alphabet is illustrated with an item connected to Ancient Egypt, the corresponding Egyptian symbol, and explanation of both the item and the symbol. The illuminated borders with Egyptian designs are beautiful. (Zoobean)

 

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Egyptology

Author: Emily Sands

Rich with information about life in ancient Egypt and peppered with Miss Sands's lively narration, EGYPTOLOGY concludes with a letter from the former Keeper of Antiquities at the British Museum, explaining which parts of this unique tale may be accepted as fact, which are guided by legend, and which reflect the author's delightful sense of fancy.(Amazon)


App

Senet

Format: Android

Games have been around for thousands of years, but none are older than the ancient game of Senet, invented by the Egyptians roughly 3500  or 5000 years ago. The oldest hieroglyphs representing a Senet game dates to around 3500 BC. The full name of the game in Egyptians meant “The Game of Passing.” It is believed that this two-player board game originated as a popular form of recreation with both royalty and peasantry. (Google Play)

 

Britannica Kids: Ancient Egypt

Format: iPad & Android

Ancient Egypt is the perfect app for exploring the secrets of hieroglyphics, mummification, the Pyramids, Tutankhamen, Cleopatra, and other popular Egyptian topics. Learn and play at the same time through a variety of games like Memory Match, Jigsaw Puzzles, and the Magic Square among others. (Google Play & itunes description)


Background Information

Once young readers start exploring Ancient Egypt, they are hooked and become experts on all things Egypt. As you read and research, maybe you’ll come across interesting information to add to some of the facts I find interesting about Egypt. Some of the Egyptian tools and inventions that we still use include:

  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Irrigation ditches
  • Plows for farmland
  • Paper
  • Bowling

Fun Facts!

  • One hundred thirty-eight pyramids have been found in Egypt, most believed to have been memorials to Egyptian pharaohs. Sometimes, we hear that the pyramids were tombs; but, it appears more likely that they were monuments.  One of the pyramids, The Great Pyramid of Khufu, was the tallest manmade structure for centuries.  When the Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889, it became the tallest manmade structure. 
  • Hieroglyphs confused the world until 1799 when a man, traveling with Napoleon Bonaparte’s army, found the Rosetta Stone near the city of Rosetta. Scholars used the Greek text on the Rosetta Stone to decipher the Egyptian hieroglyphic text on the stone.
  • Of course, everything about mummies interests us. One of my favorite FIFI (Facts I Find Interesting) about mummification is that Egyptians kept the lungs, stomach, intestines, and liver, but removed and discarded the brain.
  • Nearly 6,000 years ago, people built cities on the shores of the Nile River in Egypt. At that time, cities needed to be near water because they didn’t have pipes to carry water to their homes or fields.  The Nile River was a good place to build a city because people could fish in the river, use the water for their homes, and travel on the river. The Egyptians built boats to travel along the 4,132 mile long river. One fact I find interesting about the Nile River is that it is one of the rivers that flows from South to North. When the river flooded, it left good mud along the shores for fields. About 5,000 years ago, Egyptians dug ditches to carry water from the river to the fields to water the crops. This irrigation system in Egypt allowed farmers to plant more crops.

Discussion Starters

These Discussion Starters are a great way to get your child thinking critically about the subject and coordinate well with Egyptology.

Before Reading:Chat about what you and your child already know about Egypt. Questions help draw information from your child. Rather than simply asking, “Do you know about Egypt?” begin by asking open-ended questions, such as, “Who is your favorite Pharaoh in Egypt?” Other questions that prompt conversations include, “If you were an explorer in Egypt, what would you want to discover?” and “If you were going to hunt for answers about Egypt, what one or two questions would be top on your list?” It helps to write these questions down so you remember what to look for as you read.

During Reading:Readers tend to automatically set a purpose for reading informational text by asking questions about the subject. We pick up nonfiction and look for the answers to questions we have about the topic. As we read, we evaluate the text to determine whether our questions are answered. You can help your child hone this skill by helping him / her to search for answers to the questions you had about Egypt before you began reading and interact with the text and artifacts. As you read, continue asking questions and searching for the answers. Two questions that will help are, “Did this page answer any of our questions?” and “What questions do you have after reading about this topic?”

You could guide a conversation something like this:

  • Before reading the page “A Trip to Giza” ask, “What questions do we have about Egypt?” Read through the list & identify specific topics like the Nile, pyramids, the afterlife, etc.
  • Look at the illustrations and titles on this page, reading captions and titles out loud to identify the topics on this page. You could say something like, “We’ll read about Giza, pyramids, pharaohs, funerals, and the Sphinx. Do we have any questions on our list about Giza, pyramids, pharaohs, funerals, or the Sphinx that might be answered on this page? What are our questions?”
  • Restate the question so it is easy to identify the answer when you read it, for example, “What were the pyramids made out of?” 
  • Ask your child, “What do you think the Egyptians used to build the pyramids?” or, “What would you use to build a pyramid?”
  • Then read the page and see if you can discover the answers to your questions. Hint: When you open the pyramids, you’ll find out what the Egyptians used to build the pyramids.
  • At the end of the page, before moving on, ask, “Did we find the answer to our question?” “What was the answer?” “Did we find answers to any other questions on our list?” or “Do we have any new questions?”

After Reading:Challenge everyone to share with each other things they learned, answers to questions they discovered and new questions they have after reading. I also love asking everyone to share FIFI: Facts I Find Interesting! I might say, “I learned that the pyramids used to be covered in white limestone. My FIFI is that the Great Pyramid is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. My new question is ‘What are the other wonders of the Ancient World?’”

 

Conversation in the Pyramids

Another way to chat about what you have read is to imagine together that you are in the Pyramids with Miss Sands and role-play a conversation between Miss Sands & Mr. Taak, the interpreter. Mr. Taak is introduced as the interpreter on the page titled “Arrival at Cairo.”

You are Miss Sands and will ask your questions. 

Your child is Mr. Taak and will answer your questions based on the information learned in Egyptology  or from other sources.

A sample conversation could begin with Miss Sands (that’s you) asking, “Mr. Taak, I have a papyrus with hieroglyphics telling me about Osiris. What can you tell me about Osiris?” 

Mr. Taak (that’s your child) might remember that Osiris was the god of the underworld. This information is found on the page titled, “Notes on Ancient Egypt.”

Miss Sands could then ask, “Mr. Taak, why was Osiris important? 

Mr. Taak might remember that Osiris had been the king, or Pharaoh, of Upper Egypt before he was killed.

Don’t worry if you and your child don’t remember everything, this is one book that we can read repeatedly and find new information on each read.


Additional Resources & Recommendations

  1. Zoobean book, The Day of Ahmed’s Secret, is the story of a boy in modern Cairo. Ahmed’s secret connects him with his history, home, and culture in this touching story of a hard-working boy. 
  2. For research, I enjoy sharing Eyewitness Ancient Egypt by George Hart. This book packed with photographs of artifacts and explanations. In this book, you’ll find information on the history and uses of hieroglyphs and the Rosetta Stone. Information on the history, daily life, culture, food, and religion of Ancient Egypt is all included.  The fish, pictured in Tickle Tut’s Toes is included in this book, also. Younger children will enjoy the pictures in this book and will have questions about many of the things they see. The picture of a mummified face may be disturbing to young children. 
  3. Another work of informational fiction is Egypt in Spectacular Cross-Section by Stephen Biest. The detailed cross-sections of the Nile River, the Valley of the Kings, a Step Pyramid, and an Egyptian palace provide labeled illustrations and explanations. 
  4. Aliki’s Mummies Made In Egypt unwraps mummies for readers ages 4 and up. The history and process of mummification in Egypt is presented in an interesting way with fascinating drawings.  I like to use this book as an introduction to mummies and Egyptian mythology.
  5. Liz Sonneborn uses accessible vocabulary to introduce us to Ancient Egypt in The Egyptians : Life in Ancient Egypt. Without using subject-specific words, Sonneborn explains and describes home life, the way pyramids were built, and the making of papyrus for younger readers. 

Activities

1) Cartouche

To make your own Cartouche you will need: 

  • The stencil from “Hieroglyphs from A to Z”
  • Pens, pencils, markers, or paint & brushes
  • Cardstock (or papyrus) and scrap paper
  • Scissors
  • Craft glue or a glue stick
  • A Ruler
  • Findings to create a frame or edging like jewels, yarn, clay, or beads
  • A glass

Time: About 30 minutes for the first project

Cost: Minimal, if using supplies you have around the house

 

How To:

  1. Decide which hieroglyphs you will need. Here’s where you will need to help your child match the sounds of their name with the sounds each hieroglyph represents. 
  2. Help your child practice tracing the hieroglyphs for the name with the stencil on scrap paper before creating the final product. Use the ruler to help you space the hieroglyphs. It doesn’t matter if it’s not perfectly even or straight, your child will enjoy this project even if the final product is a little crooked.
  3. Using a pencil, draw sight lines on the cardstock or papyrus and let your child use the stencil to transfer the hieroglyphs to the paper. You’ll want to allow for a 1-inch by 4-inch oval. You may want to wait to cut out the oval until you know all of the hieroglyphs will fit in 4 inches.
  4. Outline the hieroglyphs with a fine-point marker. 
  5. Create an oval border, tracing around a glass for the oval ends.
  6. Use glue to attach a yarn, bead, or jeweled border to the cartouche.

A piece of yarn attached to the back makes the cartouche easy to hang on a wall or doorknob.

Ways to embellish this cartouche include lightly painting the cardstock in your favorite shade before adding hieroglyphs or using colored pens, markers, or pencils to create an Egyptian design for the border.

Older children might enjoy creating hieroglyphs out of clay, letting them dry, then painting them gold for a bright cartouche.

(Adapted from The Ancient Egyptians by Fiona MacDonald)


2) Clepsydra

Measure time the way the Egyptians did, with a water clock. The Egyptians were using the water clock before 1500 BC. We know this because a water clock was found in the tomb of Amenhotep I who was buried around that time. The water clock works on the principal that the water will drip through a hole in the bottom of a container at a nearly constant rate, with differences for water pressure in a full cup. When equally spaced intervals are marked on the inside of the container time can be measured by the water level.

To make your own water clock you will need:

  • 1 large cup that you can poke a hole in
  • A pin or needle for poking a hole
  • A ruler and pen
  • Recycled newsprint torn into 1 inch strips
  • School glue (white glue)
  • Water
  • A jar (if the cup can rest inside the rim of the jar, you won’t have to hold it) 
  • Paints & brushes
  • A watch, stop watch, or kitchen timer
  • A friend

Time Required: 1 hour, or more, if you’re having fun

Cost: Minimal if you use recycled materials

 

How To:

  1. Poke a hole in the bottom of the cup with the pin. Younger children will need someone to poke the hole for them
  2. Place the ruler inside the cup and use the pen to mark ¼ inch intervals on the inside of the cup
  3. Mix 3 parts glue with 1 part water, then dip strips of news print into mixture and wrap around the outside of the cup
  4. After allowing the glue to dry, paint the outside of the cup and add your own hieroglyphs
  5. Cover the hole in the bottom of the cup as you hold the cup over the jar and pour water to the top mark inside the cup – here is where your friend’s hands will be very helpful
  6. Take note of the time before you uncover the hole and allow the water to drip into the jar. Note how much time it takes for the water to lower to each mark. What do you notice? Can you create a graph to track the time that passed between each water level?

(Adapted after experimentation from Hands-on History: The Ancient Egyptians by Fiona MacDonald)


3) Family Experience: Egyptian Competition

Some historians tell us that the Egyptians held national and international sports competitions in Upper Egypt long before the Olympics in Greece. Art from tombs and temples show Egyptians competing in boxing, wrestling, swimming, archery, and many other sports.

Gather your family or friends for Egyptian-style competition with tug-of-war, hockey, and handball.

 

4) Make Your Own Paper

Egyptians made paper, called papyrus, by weaving reed together. I find it easier to make paper from recycled materials. This paper can be used as the background for a cartouche or to cover the outside of your Clepsydra.

To Make Your Own Paper You Will Need:

  • A piece of window screen (can be purchased at a hardware store) Note: some people prefer a picture frame for shaping their paper, the screen can be stapled inside of the frame you use
  • A dish tub
  • Washcloth or towel
  • Water
  • Torn paper from recycled newspapers, magazines, or tissue paper, even dryer lint
  • Blender

Time: about an hour for the process and at least one day for drying paper

Cost: Minimal, if using supplies you have on hand or recycled materials 

 

How To:

  1. Shred paper into small, one or two inch pieces and soak pieces in warm water.
  2. Place paper in the blender and cover with warm water. Blend on low, adding more water as necessary, until pulp is smooth. If you want your paper to be a specific color, now is the time to add food coloring.
  3. Drain the paper pulp
  4. Spread pulp in a thin layer across the screen in a square, rectangle, or any shape you want. You’ll want to do this outside where things can get wet.
  5. Cover pulp with a towel to absorb water and gently press to push water out of the pulp
  6. While holding the towel against the pulp, turn the screen over to release the paper & let the paper sit so it can dry for at least one day. While the paper is still wet, you can press items into it, like threads, grass, seeds, leaves, or other findings.

Once your paper is dry, you can cut it into strips for the outside of your Clepsydra or into the shape you want for your cartouche. This is fun paper for many crafts.


Media Resources

  1. Kid’s Animated History with Pipo by Frederico Badia, Ernesto Soto, and Paul Essiembre
    • Disc 4 in this 2012 series is on Ancient Egypt and is full of great information. This DVD includes an overview of Egyptian geography, early civilization, social structure, history, explanations of hieroglyphs, pyramids, afterlife, and a connection to what is going on in other parts of the world at the same time. The animation is a combination of computer animation and collages of Egyptian artifacts that captures the attention.  The narration by Paul Essiembre is clear, easy-to-follow, and lively. Overall, this is an entertaining introduction to Ancient Egypt.
    • Available on Hulu and for purchase in a set of DVDs
    • ISBN 9781594648052 1594648050
  2. Tombs of Ancient Egypt from National Geographic
    • or kids who are already interested in Egypt - National Geographic packs a lot of information into 3 minutes.
  3. The Great Sphinx from History.com
    • Labeled PG but I've watched it and if a child is reading about Ancient Egypt, this video will not be a problem. (2 min)
  4. Sesame Street: Bert and Ernie in a Pyramid
    • I like the way this addresses that some children are a little apprehensive of pyramids and mummies. (5 min)


About Rebekah

An insomniac since 1979, Rebekah has filled her nights with books & history. Rebekah's earliest memories are of watching documentaries, reading books, and playing Candy Land late at night with her dad. Is it any wonder that she doesn't consider being a librarian and teacher a job? During her fifteen years, in college and K-12 libraries and 10 years in English, ESL, and History classrooms, she has spent her days talking about books and history, sometimes at the same time. Rebekah says, "I love pairing readers with books that are a perfect fit. I feel like I have won a war when a reluctant reader returns to tell me they hated reading; but, after reading a book I recommended, they stay up with a flashlight to read until the page is blurry."

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