We kicked off our study of Ancient Egypt by finding modern day Egypt on our world map and talking about the Nile River. Ancient Egypt was called ‘The Gift of the Nile’ because the Nile flooded reliably at the same time every year, bringing a layer of mineral rich silt to cover the banks. The Ancient Egyptians learnt to build reservoirs and canals to store water from the flood to use for irrigation during the rest of the year. Once the flood waters receded, crops could be grown on the fertile banks.
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Based on an idea from the Story of the World (SOTW) Activity Book, we created our own Nile River! We went out into the garden and filled a foil baking tray with soil. We added a channel made from foil for the river, then decorated with sand, shells, stones, and a couple of hippos! Finally, we liberally sprinkled alfalfa seeds across the banks of the river, then we flooded the river! The workbook suggests grass seeds, but we didn’t have any. Also, I’m not very adept with plants, but I knew alfalfa seeds would give us a quick result! They did – we had our first shoots 4 days later!
The next day, we followed along with a YouTube video to draw a map of the Nile River. We really enjoyed this video – the instructions were clear enough for all of us to follow, and then we took some time afterwards to paint out our sketches. I also had a printout from History Pockets: Ancient Egypt, detailing the reasons the Nile was so important. Funball chose to glue her definitions onto her river art, while Daisy kept them on the worksheet.
I worked with Funball to create a timeline of Ancient Egypt. She decided to create a mini-booklet. These are SO easy to make! (Link to free instructions) By looking in a couple of books, we decided that her timeline should reach from 3100 BCE to 50 AD. She needed to work out how many years had to fit on each page, and come up with a scale. The mini book did make for one interesting challenge over a linear timeline – we had to re-list the date from the bottom of one page on the top of the next otherwise we’d have a break in the timeline! Funball dove into a couple of drawing books we have and had fun illustrating the front cover. In hindsight, we really made this booklet too early – for weeks the only date with an event was 3100BCE, when upper and lower Egypt were united into one kingdom.
All week our focus was on the Nile and the reasons it was so important to Ancient Egypt. Daisy listened along to all that we read and participated in conversations peppered in throughout the week. Funball was also asked to write up her new knowledge. Together we decided that, throughout this unit, she’d like to make a collection of work to be collated into a report book. We talked about presentation being part of the work for this, so as part of working on her write-up she jotted down reasons the Nile was so important before her final work. She also decorate the page and created the cover for her work. As part of her language work, she completed a sheet I had asking her to use the dictionary to look up terms related to the Nile that she may not otherwise know.
Of course we read all week long, and also watched a few videos. We read pages from:
The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (my old copy, 1985 edition!)
SOTW: Chapter 2, part 1
HQET: Chapter 5, Egypt: Part One (until discussion of writing)
Bill & Pete Go Down the Nile
Miss Frizzle’s Adventures: Ancient Egypt
We watched Kid’s Animated History with Pipo, both episodes, and we liked this video.