Ancient Egypt Unit Study: Week 1

Welcome to Ancient Egypt! This amazing civilization will teach us about science, art, animals, and plants. Join us this week as we explore the Nile River. We will build several projects by hand and make this ancient people come to life. (No, not the mummies—the history! 😉) Follow your child’s lead, and have fun! And don’t forget the tasty treat at the end of the week. If you have younger learners working together with older ones, be sure use Level 1 Ancient Egypt unit in conjunction with this unit. Want to track your progress along the way? Download our skills and books tracker here for your records.

What you need:

Books (find at your local library or order below on Amazon):

Optional additional reading:

Additional reading suggestions for family read-alouds:

Supplies (use what you have, but here are links to shop if you need anything):

Note: We break down our supply list by so you can choose what you need based on which lessons you plan to do with your child.

Nile river model:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup of salt
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • paint
  • medium cardboard box
  • faux or real greenery (optional)
  • paper + access to a printer (don’t have one? we like this model)

Egyptian boat model:

Shaduf model:

We provide three versions of this project for inspiration, but you can use whatever you have on hand to build your shaduf. Before gathering any supplies, review the three options in Lesson 3 to determine which one you will build and which supplies you need.

Date candy recipe:

Papyrus paper project:

What to do:

We recommend doing the below lessons in this order to build on each skill your child will develop, but don’t feel that you *need* to do them in this order. Do what works for you and your child. If they love an activity, feel free to repeat! Not a winner? Skip and try the next thing. Have fun!

Lesson 1:

Activity 1: Map work. Let’s located modern day Egypt on a map, atlas, or Google Earth. Ancient Egypt had different boarders. Ancient Egypt was located in Northeastern Africa and had four clear geographic zones: the Delta, the Western Desert, the Eastern Desert, and the Nile Valley. Each of these zones had its own natural environment and its own role within the Egyptian State. (source) Click here to download (and print) a map of Ancient Egypt. As we learn about the different places and landmarks take note of the map. We will build a map model in the next lesson when we learn about the Nile River.

Activity 2: Read + Discuss. Read the text and photography from Usborne World History on pages 134-135 to start our week of study. Next, read DK Findout! Ancient Egypt pages 40 and 41 to learn about farming and the Nile River. 

Not sure how to Read + Discuss? Read more about it here, and then pick one of the activities below to try.

  • Snack + Chat
  • Narration + Retelling (younger sibling, parent)
  • Cartooning + Drawing
  • Journaling

***Click here to learn more about our reading reinforcement ideas and why they’re important!

Lesson 2:

Activity 1: Research. Watch this video to add to your knowledge of the Nile.  Look at the map on pages 134-135 of the Encyclopedia of World History book to see the area we will be modeling (or click here and choose those pages to find a printable map). You might also want to use a globe or an atlas to find Egypt and the Nile River.

Activity 2: Build a model of The Nile River. Start by making the playdough using the recipe on the blog post.

Cut out a paper bag or a piece of cardboard as the base of your project.

Flatten out the playdough on your paper bag to create your map. Using a blunt object, like a pencil or chopstick, map out the flow of the Nile River. 

Using paint, color in the land and the water using blue and green paint.

Once your map is made, label it. Identify the river, the land, and direction. Create a key. 

Add a critical thinking activity: Why is the so-called Lower Egypt to the North? Because it’s the valley. Upper Egypt is to the south because it was higher in elevation. Demonstrate this by creating a hill with your hand at the base of your 3D map to make this all come to life.

Optional: Embellish your model with trees, reeds, and a ship (here’s a simple ship tutorial you can try).  Read about the boats of Egypt on pages 46 and 47 of the DK Findout! book.

Lesson 3:

We know so much about ancient Egypt because of written records. Start reading the optional book recommendation: Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs. We’ll learn more about archology and hieroglyphs next week, but this would be a great introduction.

Activity 1: Research. Watching yesterday’s video about the Nile introduced us to an ancient tool used by the Egyptians called the shaduf. Watch this video to learn how they work. Sketch a shaduf to clearly identify all its parts.

Activity 2: Now let’s build our own shaduf! Have your child design and build their own shaduf with items from around your home. Or use this Lego idea, or the one mentioned in this blog post using sticks or this outdoor idea for inspiration. Use this printable as a coloring sheet or as a project explanation page for a child who would like to create a display for their shaduf.

Activity 3: Science application. A shaduf is a type of simple machine called a lever. Take a deeper look at levers here. Next, watch this video to learn more about levers and identify levers that are part of our everyday life.

Lesson 4: 

Activity 1: Food History. Ancient Egyptians enjoyed tasty desserts just like you! Read about their food and drink on pages 42 and 43 of the DK Findout! book. One of the fruits they had in abundance was the date. Today, we will make a date cookie and learn more about this food as well as apply and practice some math principles.

Click this link to see an ancient artifact and a picture of a date tree today. 

Scientists learned about ancient civilizations by studying ancient artifacts. Looking at this picture, what can we learn about the way dates were picked from the tree? Now look at the picture of the man in modern times. How is he collecting the dates? What are the differences? What is the same?

Activity 2: Ancient Egyptian Date Candy. This recipe has only a few ingredients. You can use fresh or dried dates, but we recommend chopping them up in a food processor (without water) to avoid a splashy mess. One more tip: Make your “candies” small. They are very sweet, and you won’t need much to be satisfied. 

Activity 3: Math application. In today’s recipe, you can introduce or review several different math concepts. Before you break out your ingredients, read through the list below and decide which application would work best for your child. Below, we have shared some ways to bring math into your cooking/baking. Use any of these suggestions to meet your child where they are. And remember to keep it fun! Use this as a lesson, not a test. 

  • Discuss whole numbers vs fractions. Learn how to read the fraction ½.
  • This recipe will only make about 12 cookies. If that’s not enough you will have to double it. Multiply all the ingredients by 2. Want even more? Multiply it by 3. 
  • Word problem: If the original recipe makes 15 cookies, how many cookies will you get when you triple the recipe? Practice adding (15+15+15) or multiplying (15×3) to get the answer.
  • Adding fractions (½  + ½  = 2/2 or 1). Need a video to remember the rules? Try this one.
  • Algebraic thinking. Review the word problem in the link and apply it to our recipe. Create an algebraic equation to represent it. Here’s the situation: Once you made your recipe, you realized that you need more cookies. First, you put 10 cookies on the plate. Then, you make more and now have 5 more cookies. You liked the cookies so much, you decided to triple the cookies you made. Just as in the video linked above, create an algebraic equation to express this situation. (You don’t need to solve it, but you can.)
Lesson 5: 

Activity 1: Fauna + Flora. Read DK Finout! pages 44 and 45. Review this link to learn about more animals and plants that live along the Nile River. Learn more about the Nile Crocodile by watching this short video. Want to learn even more? Encourage your child to research more about them. Schedule a library visit to search for more books or research on the internet for more documentaries about this fascinating animal.  Next, create a lapbook about crocodiles.

New to lapbooking? Check this post for details.

Activity 2: Papyrus paper was an important product the Egyptians made using reeds that grew along the Nile river. Learn all about the papyrus plant and the process here, and then make your own paper with the help of this pdf

Optional: If your student loves puzzles and problem solving, introduce the book The 5,000 Year Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt.

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Published by The Learn + Live Letter

The Learn + Live Letter is a play- and project-based homeschool curriculum for children ages 3-12.

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