Tutankhamen Unit Study

ancient egypt unit study

As I’ve said in previous posts we school four weeks of normal school and then spend a week doing fun school.  This is possibly a misnomer because the fun weeks require much more out of my children than the other four weeks!  However, they do look forward very much to the fun week.  School for the older ones focuses very much on history.  We study the time periods in great depth, so much so, it has taken us two years to cover ancient history.  Having put so much work into their studies and realising that what they could understand at 7 is likely to be very different to what they can understand now they are older, I wanted to revisit areas and study them to a greater depth.

They asked to revisit Egypt, which has probably been their favourite country to study.  I had managed to obtain a few resources about Tutankhamun from the local charity shops so we agreed that this should be our topic:

egyptian adventure set

When I plan their fun week, I tend to include lots of hands on activities.  I also make it much more academic.  By that I mean we search out and comment on primary and secondary evidence.  I ask them to look more critically at what I am teaching them.  They are asked their opinions far more, and I expect a considered answer.  They are then given assignments to do, sometimes simple, other times more complex.

This week we read newspaper reports, written in 1923, about the discovery of Tut’s tomb.  We studied and compared three accounts written by people who were actually there when the tomb was opened.

Their assignments were:

  • To read and discuss Howard Carters autobiography and follow-up by watching the DVD: Egypt – Rediscovering the Lost World.  This has two episodes actually reenacting Carter’s discovery of the tomb. After I wanted them to compare the two.
  • To write a book review on ‘I am the Mummy HEBNEFERT’ by Eve Bunting:

i-am-the-mummy-heb-nefertThis is an unusual book from an unusual perspective and I wouldn’t recommend it for sensitive children.  It does, however, bring up some interesting points that I would like the children to ponder.  The morality of viewing mummies in museums, for example.  I will be interested to hear what the children have to say about that.

  • To fill out a biography sheet on Tutankhamen

Fun projects will include:

  • Completing the Egyptian Adventures pack.  We  started making the reliefs a couple of days ago  so they are ready for painting
  • Lots of read alouds

Most of Monday was spent reading ‘Uncovering Tutankhamen’s Tomb’ an autobiography by Howard Carter.  I had bought a film as a go along but the children knew that in order to watch the film, they first had to listen to the book.  This applies to any film that has been made from a book: book first, film last.  My son is ploughing his way through the Lord of the Rings in order to watch the film!  Anyway, I really wasn’t sure if the book would hold their attention.  I needn’t have worried, they were spellbound from the first page.  He wrote similarly, though not so eloquently, as the author of Swiss Family Robinson.  Johann David Wyss wrote using very long sentences that took some getting used to.  Carter did the same, however once we were in the swing of his style it became much easier to both read and understand, so it was worth persevering.  T10 particularly enjoyed it and the children ended up reading the last few chapters themselves. I also had them narrate the book back to me after each chapter was read to ensure they had understood.

Tuesday they watched the video.  T10 pointed out a few discrepancies compared with Carters book.  This was a great opportunity to talk about primary and secondary evidence.  We’ve covered this in past lessons so they found it easy to differentiate the book as primary and the film as secondary.  T10 was quite the critic!  After this, we read the mummy book.  This is written from the perspective of a mummy.  The theme is her life and death, with the conclusion that even those who look at her now (in a glass case in a museum) will one day grow old and die.  As I said in my previous post it is not, I feel, one for sensitive kids.  I have none of those and so did not have to worry.  The reason I wanted to study it was to pick up on the moral rights and wrongs of keeping and viewing mummies in museums, which are, bluntly put nothing less than corpses.  We had an interesting discussion and I encouraged them to try to look at both sides, even if they had strong feelings themselves on the matter.

During their lunch they listened to the tape that went with the Egyptian Adventures.  This was to set the scene for the mystery they needed to solve as well as instructing them as to what they needed to do next.  Basically an archeologist (fictional) who was at the opening of King Tutankhamen’s tomb was convinced that the Assyrians lived along side the Egyptians.  However, he died before he was able to prove his claim.  He left all the evidence in a sack for the ‘young archeologists’ to discover and prove these assertions in his absence.  The children were first given a bag of debris to separate a shattered pot from the dust and sand.  They then needed to clean each piece carefully and try to glue the pot back together.  After it was whole, something on the pot or about the pot would give possible clues to the dead archeologists claim.

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On the pot were reliefs that the children recognised immediately as being Assyrian in nature.  (Mesopotamia was the very first country we studied in any great depth).  They discussed for a while the implications of this find.  T10 pointed out that it could simply signify that the Egyptians and Assyrians traded together.  These types of discussions, when I can see them using information they had learnt previously, in an intelligent way is one of my joys of educating my children.  It is such an honour to see the way they change and develop from year to year.

8 comments

    1. It came in a set, I think it was called ‘Egyptian Adventures’. I think if you wanted to replicate this you could paint the pictures (or similar) onto a flower pot, then smash it yourself. That’s what I will be doing with my little ones. HTH

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