Saturday, May 1, 2010

Walk Like An Egyptian

Whenever I talk to students about ancient cultures, they seem to divide into two camps. There are the kids who find it cool to learn about how ancient peoples lived, and then there are the kids who don’t quite see the point (“hello, they’re, like, dead!”). Generally, though, most students come around to like learning about ancient civilizations, and to see that despite the centuries that separate us, we still share many of the same concerns and problems as ancient cultures.

Ancient Egypt was a sophisticated culture that was, in many ways, light years ahead of its time. Thousands of years before antibiotics were developed, for example, ancient Egyptians treated infections with moldy bread. They also invented calendars, black ink, ox-drawn plows, paper, irrigation systems, locks, and (much to Lady Gaga’s delight) eyeliner. Several millennia later, the ancient Egyptians are still trend-setters.

This week, I’ve selected three resources from Egypt’s Golden Empire, a collection of great materials based on the documentary series by PBS. The lessons include free online video clips from the series, as well as interactive features designed to maximize the students’ virtual immersion in ancient Egyptian life and culture. One reason that I like these lessons so much is their breadth: the inclusion of varied hands-on projects, video clips and interactive maps, writing exercises, and discussions all allow for kids of different learning styles to soak in the content, as well as flex their creative muscle. The lessons also include resource lists for additional information. PBS is the nonprofit public broadcasting service that provides high-quality television programming to the U.S. and beyond. Their companion Web site offers free video vignettes, teacher resources, online games, and more. The lessons below are all aligned to McREL standards.

A Day in the Life of an Egyptian
Subjects: Ancient history, World history
Grade: 6-12
Just like life in the modern era, the daily lives of ancient Egyptians varied according to their social class. In this lesson, students learn about social orders in ancient Egypt, and the day-to-day responsibilities of the various classes.

The Queens of Ancient Egypt
Subjects: Ancient history, World history, Women’s history
Grade: 6-12
Women in ancient Egypt enjoyed many of the same legal and economic benefits as men. This lesson focuses on some of the great Egyptian queens, such as Nefertiti, Tiy, and Nefertari – all of whom were held in high esteem by their husbands, the pharaohs. Students examine the reasons that these women were powerful, and how they influenced the lives of their subjects.

Architectural Marvels
Subjects: Ancient history, World history
Grade: 6-12
The ancient Egyptians were master builders and craftsmen. Thousands of years later, we still marvel at the pyramids they created. In this lesson, students study great architectural structures erected by the Egyptians, including temples, obelisks, and pyramids. Students learn how these objects were constructed, the purposes these structures served in Egyptian culture, and what modern day people can glean from examining them.

~Joann's Picks - 5/1/2010~

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