Learning about Egypt

In history we are finally wrapping up ancient Egypt! Here are some pictures of some recent projects:

This papyrus kit was a big hit. You get real bundles of papyrus, a plain sheet of papyrus paper and another sheet with a printed outline on it of an Egyptian scene you can color or paint. The kit comes with instructions on how to make your own sheet of papyrus paper. We ordered ours from Rainbow Resource.
We never did successfully create a piece of paper from the plant fibers, but the kit was still worthwhile to get to look at/feel a sheet of real papyrus paper (which is quite rough and sturdy!) and to see the plant material that makes it.

Papyrus kit

Here’s a map of Egyptian sites on the Nile from Remembering God’s Awesome Acts. I didn’t schedule this book into Otter’s ancient history schedule even though I think it makes a good supplement. We just didn’t have the time or interest to use all of it. If your student really wants to dig into early Biblical history and Egypt, you might want to check it out.


This Lift The Lid On Mummies kit comes with lots of mummy making “stuff”. I bought it years ago to use with the “big kids. Now it was Otter’s turn, but he didn’t like it as much as the others had.

Lift the Lid on Mummies

This is a lift the flap Rosetta Stone with a hieroglyphic translation exercise:

Rosetta stone

I’ve been working with Otter on narrating summaries. After I read a selection from our history to him, I ask him questions about it (to help him pick out the “main” facts). Then I have him narrate out loud. After that he writes his narrations down on notebooking pages and files them in his history notebook:

Notebooking pages

For a great article on narration, click here to go to Jimmie’s Squidoo page.

Here is Moses from Famous Figures of Ancient Times: Movable Paper Figures to Cut, Color, and Assemble:


Otter also painted King Tut. We used a simple lesson from the Art Projects For Kids website. I love some of the art lessons on Kathy’s site and plan to visit again soon for some lesson ideas!

The paint container in the pictures was made from the bottom of a plastic milk jug. It’s perfect- it even has raised areas inside to keep the colors of the paint separate.

How to Draw King Tut

Otter also colored a map of the 12 tribes of Israel instead of the scheduled map lesson in Mystery of History. You can download it for free from Bible History Online.


History Pocket Projects

Here are some more pics of Otter’s recent projects for ancient history from History Pockets.

A pop-up Egyptian courtyard :

Pop up

A cut & paste tomb:

Egyptian tomb

A flip-flap booklet of Egyptian gods and goddesses:

Egyptian gods

A pyramid shape book:


An ancient Egyptian person
(with sheer “cloth” *cough* -toilet paper- clothing overlay)


Otter usually does his History Pocket projects during our read-alouds. It keeps his hands busy and his mind focused on the stories or information that is being read.

After I read to him, I usually ask him questions about what we read and he also often provides a narration that summarizes the material.

One of the books we finished last week is:

A Place in the Sun

A Place in the Sun

This adventure story is about Senmut, a boy in ancient Egypt. After his father is bitten by a Cobra, Senmut attempts to carve a statue of the healer goddess Sekhmet with the hopes it will cure his father. While working, he thoughtlessly tosses a tool and accidentally kills a sacred dove. Senmut is sent to the mines for his crime. Will he survive his harsh sentence? Will he ever see his father alive again?

Read the first chapters at Google Books.

I scheduled this book as a reader, although I actually did it as a read-aloud due to the Egyptian spirituality that is woven throughout the story. I wanted to be on hand to edit out or explain/discuss portions because I didn’t feel comfortable with a lot of it. It’s a worthwhile story though, because it gives a realistic picture of ancient Egyptian beliefs, how lives were ruled by these beliefs, and makes this ancient culture more accessible to young readers.

Otter’s rating: 5 stars

Ancient History Projects

We’ve been really busy lately. Here are some pictures of Otter’s most recent projects:

This project was from the Story of the World Activity book. Otter worked on it while we did one of our read-alouds.

A Mohenjo-Daro house made of “bricks”

Mohenjo-Daro house

You can see some pictures of this ancient city here.

Another thing we did was learn the ancient Egyptian game of Senet. Here is the game board from History Pockets. We also played versions of the game online. Guess who won? It wasn’t me!

Learn how to play Senet

Play senet against a computer


Here’s a project Otter REALLY loved: making an “ancient” map. We took one of our Mystery of History maps, crumpled it up, dabbed it with wet tea bags and then burned the edges. Just a note for the future: outline the edges of the map areas in permanent marker! Ours “washed” away with the application of the tea bags (duh).


I also dug out some pages and lessons from Remembering God’s Awesome Acts. I purchased it in the past for the “big” kids and they completed about half of the workbook. It’s been sitting on the shelf ever since and the last half fits perfectly with what we’re currently studying. The program mixes Bible lessons with history, art, logic, geography, culture and more. One of the lessons was about Egyptian art. Here’s Otter’s picture he drew after looking over the different art elements:

Egyptian art

As far as website news, I designed the “art” for the ancient history section. You can see it here on my rough working page for ancient history books.

Apple Mummy Project

Today Otter started an apple mummy project! I considered making a chicken mummy, but that seemed so wasteful… so we settled on making apple mummies instead.

Otter set up the supplies:

  • 1 cup Epsom salt
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 4 containers (we used disposable cups)
  • Something to label the cups with (we used a permanent marker)
  • One apple
  • Knife
  • Cutting board

Apple Mummy

Otter cut the apple into quarters (4 pieces).

Apple mummy experiment

We then labeled the cups with the following labels: control, salt, baking soda, and Epsom salts.

After that, each individual piece of apple was weighed and its weight was recorded on the cup that it went into.

Apple mummy project

Otter poured the substances into the cups over the apples. The cup labeled control didn’t have anything added to it (other than the apple slice).

Apple mummy

So now the apple slices are ready to be put in a place where they won’t be disturbed for 2-3 weeks! When we pull them out, we’ll instantly weigh each piece and compare it to its original weight. We’ll determine which substance did the best job of drying the apple.

How to make an apple mummy


Famous Figures of Ancient Times

Famous figures

I ordered this book: Famous Figures of Ancient Times: Movable Paper Figures to Cut, Color, and Assemble, because I wanted to help Otter remember some of the people we are studying this year. I wasn’t sure if it would really be worthwhile to make the figures in the book, but after making two of them (Narmer and Sargon the Great), I’m really glad I scheduled this in.

The book has figures of famous people throughout ancient history to cut out and assemble. You have a choice of cutting out figures that are already colored, or ones that are black and white that you can color yourself. I really like having that option! Each figure has moveable joints and the name of the figure on the back. The front of the book has a short summary of each person and his accomplishments.

Otter cut out the figures while I did our read-alouds. Afterwards, he acted out little bits of our history lesson. We put each figure into a plastic sheet protector in his history notebook when he was done playing with them.

Otter remembers who each person is SO MUCH better than if we had just read about each one of them. Each figure is a concrete reminder of what he’s been learning about.

Here’s a blurry picture of King Narmer hanging out in Otter’s History Pocket:

King Narmer

Here’s Sargon the Great (who was accosted by King Narmer’s flail as he traipsed across Otter’s desk, lol):

Sargon the Great

I’ve scheduled in the remaining figures to complement our studies from Mystery of History and Story of the World as we go along through the year.

The author is coming out with more books in the future and I plan on getting them! Check out her website to see more figures, an example of the biographies from the front of the book and some additional titles that are coming soon.

Ancient History – Week 3

We are in our 3rd week of studying ancient history and really enjoying ourselves. The Mystery of History is making a terrific spine. The lessons are short (usually about 10 minutes or so), Biblical, easy to understand for my 5th grader and very informative (enough to keep me interested, as well as Otter). You can take a look at a free sample at the MOH website. I like it that I can cover the main part of our history lesson in such a short time and then leave the rest of what I’ve scheduled as gravy.

The Story of the World is also making a great compliment to MOH. I’m glad I decided to do them together. The Mystery of History is giving me a Biblical based account of history, while SOTW is adding in a “story” element to it all that is memorable.

Here’s a map Otter completed after reading about Shamshi-Adad of the Assyrians in The Story of the World. The map is from the activity book.

Story of the World map

After reading about the Tower of Babel in The Mystery of History, he made a mini-booklet that summarized the story. You can get it for free from Gospelhall.org.

He’s also doing some notebooking. I got the page on the right here (scroll down the page) and the one on the left here. Otter is using the pages to write down short narrations of the things I’m reading out loud to him. At the end of studying ancient history, he’ll have a nice portfolio of the things we’ve covered.

notebooking pages

In History Pockets, our lesson today was about frontalism. After looking at some examples from the History Pocket book, as well as online, Otter used the Ralph Masiello’s Ancient Egypt Drawing Book to help him draw in this ancient style.


Last week in History Pockets he made a small timeline featuring some main events in Egyptian history.


I’m glad I chose to use History Pockets this year to compliment our studies. The activities are a good overview of Egyptian basics. I didn’t want to bother with trying to plug in lapbooks this year and I wanted something a little hands-on that would still leave us plenty of time for other activities. History Pockets is really working out for us.

However, if you prefer lapbooks, here are some that are free:

Ancient History Fun

I created an ancient history notebook cover today for Otter’s notebook. Feel free to download it and use it too! It’s a little busy, but Otter helped choose the design.

Ancient history notebook cover

Today we studied early writing. Otter created some cuneiform in
Play-Doh after making a review card from Hannah’s Homeschool Helps. He looked at this webpage to see how to write the letters.
We also explored these two sites:

Cuneiform Alphabet Free Online Translator

National Geographic Hieroglyphs Translator


Otter also created this “Along the Nile River – The River of Life” page using History Pockets:

History Pockets

I’m putting all of his History Pockets, maps and other items into a 3 ring binder. Everything is being placed inside page protectors to keep it nice & neat, plus we don’t have to worry about the pages tearing and breaking from the binder rings.

So far I’m really pleased with our schedule. We’re spending on average about an hour a day or so on history with just enough extras to keep it engaging.

January 13, 2010



Today, after reading a story about Isis and Osiris in Story of the World, we followed the instructions in Ralph Masiello’s Ancient Egypt Drawing Book to make our own pictures of Isis. You can see our drawings below.

Otter’s drawing (outlined in black marker after drawing and coloring):


My drawing (made on the computer):


It’s helpful to Otter for me to go through the drawing steps with him – so it’s like a “live” drawing lesson. I draw a bit and then he copies what I just did in his drawing. He gets to see all of the steps appear on the computer screen.

Ralph Masiello’s Ancient Egypt Drawing Book is a great book to use while studying ancient Egypt. You can preview it at ChristianBook.com. Even complex drawings are broken down to the smallest steps. When Otter first saw the finished drawing of Isis, he thought there was NO way he could ever do that. At the end though, he was really pleased with the results.

I like incorporating other things into our main core like art. It helps make our studies more rich, varied and interesting.

I know that some Christian parents avoid teaching their children things like Greek myths and ancient Egyptian gods, etc., however, I think it’s important for Otter to know these things to properly understand history as well as our own personal beliefs from the Bible. You can’t fully understand what God was doing with the 10 plagues of Egypt unless you have an understanding of the Egyptian gods. (Here is an interesting article about that.)

Last week in Mystery of History, Otter had an assignment to make some review cards. On the front of the card is the name of the person(s) or event he is to remember as well as the date and on the back is more information/details. As we go along through the year, we’ll take them out to refresh his memory about things we’ve covered. To make things easier, I’m using the summaries posted at the Mystery of History 1 Yahoo group for the back of the cards. That group has all sorts of free goodies posted in the files section. You can find the summaries I’m using in files: Memory Card notes.

Mystery of History Cards

We also made a couple other cards after a Mystery of History lesson about dinosaurs. Some “dino” cards:

Dinosaur cards

You can get the blank template for the dino cards from Eduplace.com. I took the template PDF, pulled it into Photoshop and then let Otter choose the dinosaurs he wanted to cover from The Natural History Museum’s Dino Directory that I pasted onto the template. There are all kinds of great pictures you can use! We changed some of the info on the back of the cards. Where it says “when” we put “where” instead. That eliminated the young earth vs. old earth dating issues we have.

We are combining a little bit of science in with our history. One of the ways I’m doing this is to read these books with Otter:

Dry BonesDry Bones and Other Fossils Dinosaur MysterThe Great Dinosaur Mystery and the Bible

Both are creation books that talk about subjects I felt important to cover in more depth (dinosaurs and fossils). I also purchased a set of fossils from Acorn Naturalists and we looked at them as well as looked up more information about each online. Otter’s favorite was the dinosaur bone (of course, lol).

FossilsI guess it’s obvious we are believers in a young earth (and creation vs. evolution), however, I wasn’t always. I do believe it’s important for my kids to know BOTH sides and the evidence for each. Emily had some great discussions with her biology teacher in college. I’m glad I gave her a good foundation for understanding both creationism and evolution. She was both successful in her non-Christian biology class as well as successful in defending her faith. I don’t think young earth kids should be sheltered from evolutionary science. I think when you study both carefully, you are able to understand why you believe either way.

For our dinosaur studies, Otter made this dinosaur lapbook wheel last week. You can get it for free from Homeschool Share (scroll down to “Day 7”).

Dinosaur lapbook

I got an email recently from a mom who is looking forward to seeing what we are doing in ancient history. Even though I won’t be posting the full schedule for awhile, I decided to post the first week so you all can get a feel for what it’s going to be like and what we are working on.

Ancient History Sneak Peek (.doc format)

Otter started his first History Pocket for ancient Egypt. Here’s the cover:

History Pocket

Here is the first pocket, a “fast facts” card and a free printable card (text is on the back to review the Story of the World chapter) from Hannah’s Homeschool Helps.

History Pockets

In Mystery of History we covered Noah’s ark. Otter played with his Playmobil Noah’s ark during lesson time:

Playmobil Noah's Ark

All three of my kids have always loved Playmobil, even when they were older. I found that Playmobil is a great “review” toy for things the kids have learned in history. You can set it up and reenact all sorts of things like famous battles and more. Here’s an old post I wrote on Playmobil awhile back.

Someone recently asked what readers I’m using in ancient history. Here is a link to an  page showing some of the books I’ve scheduled in for Otter. Hopefully it will be helpful to any of you who need some extra ideas for ancient history. I will be posting the schedule I’m using later.