Learning About Ancient Egypt: Resources For Homeschoolers & Classroom Teachers

Ancient Egypt is my favourite ancient civilization to study! What student isn’t captivated by learning about gods and godesses, mummification, hieroglyphics, and pyramids? I thought that I would take the time to share some of my favourite resources to help you explore ancient Egypt with your students.

I’m of the opinion that if provided with the right support, setting, and resources, students can be amazing self-guided learners. In fact, I recently wrote about how my self-guided learning experience mummifying our classroom fish in the third grade was an important learning opportunity. So with any unit I consider it vital to provide students with free access to a variety of fiction and non-fiction resources. Here are a few of my recommendations for ancient Egypt.

Videos

Egypt’s Great Pharaohs– History Channel

Tutankhamun and The Golden Age of the Pharaohs– National Geographic

How to make a mummy Ted-Ed (Len Bloch)

The Egyptian Book of the Dead: A guidebook for the underworld– Ted-Ed (Tejal Gala)

The pharaoh that wouldn’t be forgotten- Ted-Ed (Kate Narev)

Books

See Inside Ancient Egypt by Rob Lloyd Jones & David Hancock

Seeker of Knowledge The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs by James Rumford

Mummies in the Morning by Mary Pope Osborne

Cleopatra VI: Daughter of the Nile by Kristina Gregory

Eyewitness Ancient Egypt by George Hart

Music

I’m a big fan of incorporating soundscapes into the classroom to make content come alive for students. For example, play a desert soundscape while students complete an activity in their notebooks or read. For ancient Egypt I like this one by ArcologyDesigns.

Games

University of Chicago Mummy Maker

National Museum of Scotland Egyptian Tomb Adventure

Unit Study

If you are looking for a more developed unit I have recently updated my ‘Back To Ancient Egypt Time Travel Unit Study” with new components and more detailed teaching guides.

The unit provides a general overview of daily life in ancient Egypt in an engaging way that presents the information as a fun narrative. Students are transported back in time to ancient Egypt and produce a hands-on notebook with interactive components. They follow the field diary entries of an archaeologist (Dr. Helena Carter), creating crafts, foldable notes, and other activities for each entry and topic.

Here are a few example pictures from the resource. If this is something you are interested in trying you can find it here.

Let Them Explore: The Fish Story

I’m of the opinion that if provided with the right support, setting, and resources, students can be amazing self-guided learners. Miss. Frizzle is a personal hero of mine and her advice to “take chances, make mistakes, and get messy” summarizes a lot of my beliefs about embracing mess and chaos in the classroom, or in your homeschool practice. Learning cannot happen unless we allow ourselves and our students to be open to wholehearted exploration, and true exploration can’t occur without a certain degree of chaos and mess. So where does the fish come in? Let me tell you…

One of the best lessons I ever had was highly unconventional, but self-guided by a small group of students and supported by my amazing third grade teacher. We had been studying ancient Egypt when one of our classroom fish died. Instead of flushing it, we decided that we were going to mummify this fish and give it a proper ancient Egyptian burial. When we asked our teacher his response was simply “of course”. And so began the process of wrapping this goldfish in layers of salt and toilet paper, decorating an inner and outer sarcophagus, and making a cardboard box tomb with appropriate antechambers, a cartouche, and enough fish food for the afterlife. It took us most of the day as we went back and forth between the fish and our classroom library of resource books, trying to get it just right as our teacher looked on from afar. The burial later that day was a solemn affair, but as we gave the goldfish a procession down the hallway we all carried with us a new detailed understanding of ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife, their tomb construction, mummification, and burial practices.

So why is the fish important? Had my teacher stopped us because of a narrative surrounding potential mess, hassle, or the perception of wasted time, we would never have learned what we did with such passion. When faced with a gaggle of probably-too-eager 8 year olds he looked at the potential for chaos, and valued the potential learning more than his resistance to mess.

There are amazing educators out there who stare the potential for mess in the face and say “come at me” every day. The proof is in the inspired learning of their students, the awesome learning experiences they create, and the dirt and glitter piles in the corner of their classrooms. But with the pressure of performance as we compare ourselves to bloggers and Instagram users with seemingly spotless classrooms, it can be good to have a reminder that mess is ok.

Who knows what the next dead fish opportunity to come your way will be 🙂

Teaching Effective Group Discussion

I am a steadfast believer that the best classroom management technique is the creation of a classroom environment were students know how to communicate effectively. You cannot hope to have successful small group or classroom discussions if students do not feel safe to express themselves in a space where they know their ideas, feelings, and opinions will be respected.

Unfortunately, most students do not have effective communication modeled for them not just in their educational past, but at home, with their peers, and in the media. So how can you begin to teach effective group discussion with your students?

The first thing is to have an open dialogue with students about effective and ineffective communication. This dialogue can’t just start once there are issues part way through the school year, but should be explored during the first week of school.

  • Ask students to share past experiences and their feelings surrounding group work, when have they felt that their opinions weren’t respected? Did it affect how much/little they shared? Do they think it affected their learning?
  • Explain that it is possible to disagree with someone, or to give critical feedback, while still respecting the other person’s beliefs and emotions. Remind students that it can be okay to “agree to disagree”, and that part of learning is being able to consider issues from another’s perspective and respecting that they have their own beliefs, without having to give up your own. 
  • As a class, brainstorm some examples of effective and ineffective language. For example: “I disagree with Elliot because…” vs. “No Elliot, you’re so wrong”.
  • Come up with an acronym or other system to remind students of effective group communication. I came up with the TALK method (Trust, Appreciate, Listen, Be Kind).
  • As a class come up with a ‘reminder phrase’ that students can use to take a break and get back on track if they feel discussions are becoming ineffective. For example, “I think we need to take a breather”.

This is just a start, and effective group discussion is a skill that should be touched upon throughout the school year. I am passionate about this topic, and have created a variety of resources that you can use with your students to teach effective group communication.

 

FREE Effective Group Discussion Interactive Notebook

Use these four interactive notebook components to explore the concept of effective group discussion with students.

The first note allows students to explore how they want to be treated by others in a group discussion, and what they need to give in return. The second has them brainstorm encouraging vs discouraging words when providing feedback to others. In the third note students decide wether statements are an example of effective or ineffective communication, and and in the final note they brainstorm statements they can use to agree, disagree, ask for clarification, and more.

 

Effective Group Discussion Lesson 

The perfect lesson for the beginning of the school year to introduce effective group discussion. Students learn about effective communication by comparing a group discussion scenario written two different ways. In the first example, the characters do not demonstrate effective communication. Students analyze the passage to see where more effective communication could be used. They then read the second example to see how the discussion could have been improved. For both passages, students reflect on how the discussion would make each character feel.

After this introduction, students brainstorm how they would personally like to be treated during group discussions. This leads to the introduction of the TALK method (Trust, Appreciate, Listen, Be Kind), in the form of a foldable note. Students use the knowledge they have gained to debate a topic in a small group, and reflect on their group dynamics and communication.

 

Sentence Frames For Effective Group Discussion

 

Use a sentence frame fan to support clear and respectful student communication during group discussions.

Each category includes five sentence frame prompts. Students can use the sentence frames to create responses that promote effective classroom discussions.

 

Effective Group Communication Task Cards 

In this activity students read examples and decide whether they demonstrate effective or ineffective communication. This is a great activity to use for SCOOT and to introduce effective group discussion to students.

 

Effective Group Discussion Bundle 

If you like the sound of all of these resources you can also buy them as a bundle for a discounted price!

How do you promote effective group discussion in your classroom? Let me know in the comments or at lifelonglearning1234@gmail.com