Ancient Egypt is always a popular choice in homeschools around the world. This Tutankhamen homeschool lesson is a great accompaniment. I tried to expose my children to all sorts of resources including primary evidence using Howard Carter’s own writing. We will also use newspaper reports to explore the rumours circulating in 1923 regarding the discovery of the tomb. We will compare these articles written by third parties with those written by Howard Carter himself. Lastly, we will be completing an activity we found in a local charity shop.
Resources for our Tutankhamen Homeschool Lesson
We read lots of fun picture books to whet the children’s appetites. You can choose any that your library has or that you may already own. The role of these books is to spark their interest, which will hopefully last through the heavier books to come:
Tutankhamen and Tut’s Mummy are easy to read factual books. The Legend of Tutankhamen is a beautifully illustrated book. It tells the tale of a young pharaoh who died too young and who was hidden from the world until his tomb was discovered by Howard Carter. Howard and the Mummy focuses more on Howard Carter than Tutankhamen. Stunningly illustrated, this book will transport you right back to Egypt at the uncovering of Tutankhamen’s tomb. These are all excellent choices, but really any will do. That said, we used ‘I Am Mummy Hebnefert‘ again to explore the morality of keeping mummy’s in museums.
Primary Evidence V Secondary Evidence
I chose a collection of resources to compare information gathered from primary sources, compared to secondary resources. We read the newspaper articles together, and I read The Discovery of the Tomb of Tutankhamen by Howard Carter outloud. This details his discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in great detail. I had the children narrate each chapter to make sure they understood. We then watched Egypt: Rediscovering a Lost World and I asked the children to compare the three sources of information:
These opened up so much discussion and was an impromptu opportunity to discuss the inherent inaccuracies with secondary sources.
I am the Mummy Nebhefert
I am the Mummy Hebnefert by Eve Bunting is not a book for sensitive children. It is from the point of view of a mummy in a museum. We found it a hauntingly thought provoking book, filled with lyrical language and beautiful illustrations. The children wrote a quick review on the book, before I asked some questions designed to get them thinking.
Hebnefert describes her life and death, concluding those who gaze on her now will one day grow old and die. I wanted to study this book to pick up on the morality of keeping and viewing mummies in museums. After all, mummies are essentially dead bodies. Should they be shown more respect than being kept in a museum? We had an interesting discussion (!). They had never really considered this before…they were kind of mortified by the idea!
The Egyptian Adventure
This was a fascinating activity. The children 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. Archeologist, Sir Oliver Jones (fictional), was at the opening of King Tutankhamen’s tomb. He was convinced that the Assyrians lived along side the Egyptians. However, he died before he was able to prove his claim. Fortunately, 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 some reliefs to create their own ancient Egyptian artefacts:
Next, they recieved 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:
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. Thomas, 10, 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.
I think if you wanted to try to replicate this for your own Tutankhamen homeschool lesson, you could perhaps use a terracotta pot and trace some Egyptian/Assyrian art onto it. Then you could break it, mix it with mud and sand, pop it in a bag and you would have something similar.