Friday, October 08, 2010

Ancient Egypt

Begin at the beginning.
That's how most elementary history courses should start and so too does the classical education approach. So we have started with Ancient Egpyt and are working our way through the various phases of this empire that lasted almost 5,000 years before the Greeks took over.

This is the timeline that hangs on our living room wall to help us keep track of what was going on and when. It is very homemade and very amateur. It is dated from 3400BC to 400AD and has room for Old Testament and New Testament, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian people and events with space for other ancient nations. The intsructions were downloaded from the Brandenburg Studies site under The Timeline Project which appears to still be available free as a pdf.

So far we have been either drawing our images or printing them off the internet. The papyrus scrolls and pyramid were drawn by Seth.

But I have ordered the timeline figures from Homeschool in the Woods and expect to use her images after I get my mail from my parents. I plan to use the timeline figures in multiple projects as well as for a timeline book when we study in the later grades.

These are most of the titles that we use to help us study the different aspects of Ancient Egypt's civilization. The books are mostly above Seth's reading level but when we study this topic again around grade five, these books will be more independent reading for him. Right now, I read, study and organize the material and dates myself and decide how it will be presented and what we will do with it. The following is what we have accomplished in the first four weeks of school.

We have labeled outline maps and drawn his own map of Egypt.

In addition he has colored a couple pages found on the internet while I read aloud more detailed information from one of the upper level books.

We also have started his own dictionary with terms that we have learned and are likely to encounter again in other studies.

So far the words have come from our studies in History, Bible and Science. I select the words, dictate the spelling and the definition which we discuss together. I keep the definitions brief and very basic as you can see. Sometimes I write for him if I sense he is losing interest or patience but generally the dictionary is in his own handwriting.

But mainly, we have enjoyed looking at the various pictures in the books and a few hands-on projects done together. This is where I try to incorporate Charlotte Mason's educational approach for the younger grades. Shorter lessons, centered around interesting books that provide real and significant information. Minimal time has been given to bizarre topics such as mummy-making, the after-life beliefs of the Egyptians and their pervasive system of false gods and goddesses.
The projects that I look for need to store well and be as realistic as possible, so that they reinforce and aid in remembering the topics studied. I hope that these projects do that for Seth now, but also in the future.

The picture above became the model and inspiration for our salt dough map project which originally called for a map of Egypt. Instead, we studied this page carefully and designed our version of it first on paper, then inside the pizza box. This is the photo I posted a couple weeks ago using it as a "guess what this is" post.

Here it is again from another angle.

And here is the whole thing.

The Ancient Egyptians developed an irrigation system of canals and levers(called shadufs) to help them farm the land close to the Nile River which would flood around July of every year and then recede leaving the rich river mud behind to grow crops in. Our shadufs are not exactly historically accurate as acorns are not native to Egypt but it worked for us. Our flax and barley crops came out of a garlic press, in case you were wondering.

Next, we made our version of papyrus paper by cutting strips of paper, soaking them in a flour and water mixture, and then laying them criss-cross on top of each other and letting it dry. We also made our version of their reed boat out of straws and what else but duct tape. Early civilizations relied heavily on the reed plant that grew along the rivers. In fact, the Red Sea, I believe is a misnomer and is possibly intended to be known as the Reed Sea due to the amount of reed plants growing around it. But you better fact-check that as it's been a while since I read that. Both of these ideas came from this book, Great Ancient Egypt Projects You Can Build Yourself borrowed from the library.

And when the paper is held up to the light, the pattern is revealed, giving us an idea of what their papyrus would have looked like with the strands of reed showing.

And most recently, we built a small pyramid out of Lego. A very colorful pyramid in no way resembling the quarried stone and limestone of the Egyptian pyramids still standing today. :)

We are about two-thirds of the way through our study of Ancient Egypt and I am pleased with how it has come together so far.


  1. Anonymous5:03 PM

    How can I NOT comment!!! =)
    No wonder Seth said that he couldn't wait for what would come!Praying for all of you in this important endeavor.
    love, MemMem

  2. Heather,
    This really affirms the beauty of homeschooling. You and I are teaching our children the same subject in completely different ways. Custom-made learning. Love it.

  3. I love this! I came across your blog because I had done a google image search on Ancient Egyptian canals (we are studying it in our homeschool group!). I love all the activities you've done! And thanks for the picture of the books you've been using. I'll have to look some of those up!


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