And by “they,” I mean my own children.
Four years ago we began our four year history cycle NOT with the Egyptians, but with Mesopotamia, Babylon, Assyria, and such. And I’ll show you that a little later.
But right after that we started a big unit on Ancient Egypt. We made a lot of really neat crafts and read a lot of fun books. And I learned a lot about crafting and reading out loud with lots of littles. One: Little kids’ crafts don’t look like the examples given in the books. And that is ok. Now, that sounds obvious, but when you are trying to make something really awesome and you end up with a pile of glue and some paper somewhere mixed in, it is a little disappointing. You know what? That’s a learning experience, too. Two: Kids just love being read to. Well, my kids love being read to. But they all have different length attention spans. Sometimes I had them color pictures at the same time to keep them busy. Some days we could read a lot of books. And somedays we could only read one.
And, without fail, the phone would always interrupt us.
And, without fail, it was always my husband. He’s a little harder to ignore than telemarketers.
Here are some of the things we did while learning about Ancient Egypt. (This is just all going off my sometimes shaky memory and the gazillion photos I took of every thing we ever did – because somethings, like camera happy things, just never change.)
Here are some of the things we did, some of the things we did well, and some of the things I wish I had done differently.
Exhibit A: This is a blurry photo of me organizing books and papers and material getting ready to teach those kids with a passion no teacher had ever known before!!! Ah, the very first year of homeschooling.
(ps. I don’t spend that much time in prepping anymore. And you know what, we’re all still doing just fine. But for me back then, this was very necessary and I needed to have everything planned out just right, so I felt like I was doing a good job and wouldn’t make any mistakes.)
(pps. Everyone makes mistakes. E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E.)
What you see there on the once new carpet are lapbook pages. We made lapbooks again this year, and you will see lots of lapbook examples throughout this blog. But as a reminder, a lapbook is a booklet filled with mini booklets of various shapes, sizes, and designs (think accordion style, matchbook style, etc.), which mini booklets highlight a piece of information pertaining to the subject of the entire booklet. (Yes, I did indeed just make that definition up. But just because it sounds a little awkward, doesn’t mean it’s wrong. Right?) Many lapbook printouts can be found at Homeschoolshare.com, and the specific Ancient Egypt Lapbook link is here.
Lapbooks are great for those creative kids! They usually involve A LOT of cutting and gluing. My kids especially like the lapbook booklets where the info is already printed inside the mini books, so they don’t actually have to know or write anything down.
I especially don’t like that they like that as much as they do.
Exhibit B: We built a pyramid.
Now, let’s just take a step back for a moment here. Look at those two kids in the photos. One of them is in 1st grade, the other is a preschooler. Now look at the pyramid, the drawings of the canopic jars (the brown construction paper thingys), and those cute little mummies all wrapped up. Who do you think did all that? Well, despite the photo showing my cutie patootie preschooler carefully painting the gold on the top of the pyramid and my oh-so-handsome 1st grader painting… well, actually that is a ziggurat (also obviously not the handiwork of a 7 and a 4 year old) … I made those things. Yes, it was me. I had this idea that it all had to look just right or else they wouldn’t learn and my homeschool would be a failure because people would ask us what we had been doing and I would have to answer, “we made a pile of glue and there is some paper mixed in there as well.”
Did the kids even learn anything? Yes, actually they learned a lot. They learned and retained so much, that on our second time through Ancient Egypt, they can tell me about how a mummy is made and the god Anubis. They can tell me about the Valley of the Kings and about the Nile River. But I think I would have been a better parent, and consequently a better teacher, if I would have let them do more on their own instead of trying for something Pinterest worthy.
(ppps. I’ve since given up the lofty goal of being Pinterest worthy.)
Exhibit C: We made papyrus paper look-a-likes!
This was so fun! Definitely a good activity to do, even in the upper elementary ages. Maybe even in the middle school ages.
And Exhibit D: We mummified apple slices. I think we left these to mummify for two weeks or so. The slice on the left was wrapped in gauze and buried in a sippy cup of salt (to imitate the natron the Egyptians used.) I honestly can’t remember what the middle slice was buried in, but the last apple slice was in a cup of sugar. He didn’t fair so well!
And besides reading, and reading, and reading, and more reading… that was Ancient Egypt! Now, check out how we did Ancient Egypt the second time round!