Activities for Kids
Here are a few ideas of Egypt-inspired activities to do with kids...
Make Simulated Papyrus
Papyrus scrolls were made by taking slices of the inner part of the papyrus stem and arranging them in perpendicular layers. The layers were then covered with linen and flattened by a stone to get the juices to leak out. Once dried, the layers were stuck together. You can use another water plant to do this. Cut the flat leaves of cattails and soak them in a bucket of water. You may want to add a teaspoon of bleach to kill the pond smell. After they are good and soaked, rinse and replace the water, but this time use a much smaller amount. Add glue or wallpaper paste to the mix. Have the children lay a piece of paper towel down, and then criss-cross the cattail fronds. Cover with a wet piece of cotton cloth, smooth out with a rock, and remove the cloth. Let dry. The paper towel can be trimmed so you don't see it from the front, but keep it on the back to help hold your papyrus together. Children can use their papyrus to create Egyptian art or to write their names with hieroglyphs.
Unification of Upper and Lower Egypt
Explain how Narmer unified Egypt in 3100 BC, and that the double crown was created by combining the white crown of Upper Egypt with the red crown of Lower Egypt. Then, have the children create new symbols for a modern unification by combining the logos of competitors. To get them thinking, ask what the logo could be if Coke and Pepsi were united... or Verizon and AT&T, or Ford and Chevrolet, or Apple and Microsoft, or the USA and Canada.
Ask the class to come up with a list of some of the animals that live in your state. Record them on the chalkboard. Then have the kids create new gods and goddesses using the heads of your local animals. Brainstorm a list of topics that their deities can symbolize, such as friendship, schools, fun, etc. Challenge them to make their animal choices match the attribute they represent: for example, an owl-headed god of schools ("wise as an owl"), a dog-headed god of friendship ("man's best friend"), a bee-headed god of work ("busy as a bee").
After teaching about bartering and supply/demand, have a bartering session. Get one of those 5-lb bags of candy, some stickers, pencil tops, and other gimmicky cheap stuff. Distribute it to the kids, trying to make sure each child has only one type of item. Don't give the same amount to each child ("This was a bad year for Peanut Butter Cup crops!"). Let them mingle and barter with each other. Follow up with discussion about how they decided what things were "worth."
The Egypt Game
Have the children read "The Egypt Game" by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Make each student responsible for writing a summary and drawing a picture for one of the chapters (there are 23) and then bind them all together as a single book. Or, have each student create a shoe-box diarama for their assigned chapter, and lay them all out in a "story train."
Vacation Greetings from Famous Egyptian Places
Pick several well-known touristy sites (Pyramids of Giza, sphinx, Hatshepsut's temple, the step pyramid, Lighthouse at Alexandria), places (Karnak, Tel el Amarna, Nubia, the delta) and have kids research them. Decide on a few things that the kids will have to discover, such as: When was it built? Who built it? Why? Where exactly is it? What are a few other interesting facts? Then the kids pretend they are on vacation visiting the site. They make postcards that have a color drawing of the site on the front. On the back, postcards are addressed to a friend or family member and a stamp with an Egyptian theme is created. The kids write a vacation greetings letter and include the research facts in it.
Mail Order Catalog from an Egyptian Retailer
Have students create a mail order catalog of Egyptian items with descriptions and "prices" (i.e., 2 bushels of corn, 1 goat, etc.). Have each page feature a specific category. Items could include furniture (beds, chairs, thrones, couches), food (pomegranates, corn, lettuce, beer, onions), African animals (giraffes, baboons, lions), personal care/fashion (make up, tweezers, wigs, clothes, sandals, mirrors, kohl), weapons (chariot, bow and arrow, shields), funeral equipment (sarcophagi, coffins, canopic jars, Book of the Dead). Have the students name their catalog and make a cover.