Monday, May 5, 2014

Ancient Egypt Sensory Bin

Ancient Egypt is so fascinating! I remember when I first learned about Egypt in 3rd grade and we mummified a chicken and gave it to our principle when it was done. It was awesome. Well, we didn't mummify a chicken (we might when the kids are older, who knows!). But we did create a sensory bin to go along with the books on ancient Egypt and Egyptian mythology that we have been reading.

For this activity we used our Safari Ltd. Ancient Egypt Toob. This toob includes: Nefertiti, Bastet, Tutankhamen, Isis, an Amulet, Mummy Case, Scarab, Pyramids, Sphinx, Thoth, Anubis, and a Hieroglyph. We also used a few of our other Toob animals including a cow, mountain lion (because we didn't have an African lioness), crocodile, goose and pig. These animals were to represent some of the other Gods and Goddesses that were not in the Ancient Egypt Toob. (I will go over them later in the post.)

When people think of Egypt, pyramids and the Sphinx are probably the first thing that come to mind. They are enormous and simply beautiful and absolutely capture "Egypt". There is just so much history there! So I knew that was where we had to start. Earlier in the week we created a few different types of pyramids. The first with Lego's, the second with different sized foam cubes, and the third with play dough (I made a ton of play dough cubes and they did the constructing). Each of these methods helped them understand the shape of a pyramid. When they are older we will go over how they are built, but for now we focused on the shape and how to construct a 3-D pyramid. For the Sphinx we created paper-plate lion manes to wear like a mask (the middle was cut out so it was their face with a lion mane), used our Little People lions and play dough to give them new faces and read lots of riddles!

Bean was fully in charge of creating this sensory bin and I let her add all the different pieces and she really enjoyed pouring the corn meal into the bin to create a desert! She was amazed how much the little hills and slopes looked just like a desert. She had to repeat this process many times until the desert was just right.

Image from The Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt by Leonard Everett Fisher

We also used a map from one of the books we were reading as the basis for our Egyptian city. We referenced it many times when we were talking about a particular God or Goddess or myth. We used green and blue glass gems for the Nile river but Munchkin kept removing them, so I told Bean it must mean they were having a drought and she agreed. Set must be happy.

First up, let's meet Tefnut! She is the Goddess of Morning Dew.


This is Tefnut's son, Geb, who is God of the Earth.

Geb and Tefnut

This is Geb's sister and wife, Nut, Goddess of the Sky. She had four children with Geb, named Osiris, Isis, Set and Nephthys. Nut also had another daughter with Ra named Hathor. The story goes that Ra was angry with Nut and cursed her. The curse made her unable to have children on any day of the year. In Ancient Egypt, there were 360 days in a year. Nut knew someone who could help her. Thoth challenged the Moon to a card game and every time he won, he asked for some moonlight. Eventually all this moonlight added up to five days. Now the year was 365 days long and because of these extra few days that were not included in the curse, Nut was able to have a child on each of these days. And because the moon lost so much moonlight, it was no longer able to shine full all the time.

To teach this part of the story, we created a simple card game that had the phases of the moon drawn on them. They each drew cards and played a matching game until five full moons were created. Munchkin sat on my lap and I helped him when he needed my assistance. When they were all matched up, we glued them together and wrote the name of the God or Goddess that was born on that extra day. Bean also wanted to look at the calendar and asked what days they were born on. I told her I didn't know. So I gave her a highlighter to choose which days she thought they might have been born on. I suggested maybe at the end of the year, but she spread out the days over different months.


This is Set, God of the Desert. He is not a nice guy. Best to just stay away from this guy!


This is gentle Hathor, Goddess of Love. Who once tried to destroy all of mankind. And almost succeeded. (As you can see, after reading this part of the story, Bean made sure to knock everyone down, bellowing, "watch out! Moooo!") Hathor is known for being the Cow Goddess who protected mother and children and as Ra's eye. Other times, when she was doing errands for Ra and punishing people, she took the form of a lioness. But when Ra became old, he feared that his subjects would no longer want him as their king and he wanted to show them he was still powerful.. So he sent Hathor to punish mankind. As a lioness, she was doing a great job until she lost control of her power and Ra had to step in to prevent her from wiping out all of mankind. He had messengers create a sleeping draught that looked like blood and poured it over the fields, and she drank so much that she fell asleep. When she woke up, she was back to her old self and forgot all about destroying mankind.


We also learned a lot about Ra - God of All Creation, Isis - Goddess of the Home, Anubis - God of the Dead, Bastet - the cat headed GoddessShu - God of Air, Osiris - God of the Underworld, Nephthys - Goddess of Mourning, Horus - God of Life, Nekhebet - Goddess of Royal Protection and Seshat - Goddess of Wisdom, Knowledge and Writing. We read stories about these Gods and Goddesses, and talked about who their parents were (if they had any), who their siblings were (if they had any), and what they were Gods and Goddesses of. I loved that we had a couple books to go along with this activity because it was fun for the kids to match up the figures to the pictures in the book. 

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