Our final project, the culmination of our study, the big chance for Faith to show off what she had learned about Ancient Egypt. I knew it had to be something big. Something with multiple parts to it, displaying different areas of learning. Something that involved a lot of thinking and decision making on her part. Something with an artistic bent, because Faith loves art.
The assignment I came up with (stay tuned for a free download of the rubric) was to create an Ancient Egyptian tomb using all her mad art skills. In addition, she had to write a short essay explaining her tomb and its occupant.
This went really, really well. I was pleased with everything she came up with: the product, how enthused she was to do this assignment, and the independence she showed in her work.
The tomb itself was housed in a medium sized box, which I believe used to house manila envelopes. Faith cut brown paper to the size of the shoe box’s sides, painted her wall decor on the brown paper, then glued it inside. Each wall told a story, and Faith could tell you that story. She used her resources (books, internet, notes, etc.) to determine what that story should be, and how it should be portrayed.
Inside the tomb, Faith included items that she felt should be in an authentic Ancient Egyptian tomb. Hers were made from Sculpey clay, and we were only able to buy plain white, so she painted everything herself. There were the four canopic jars, painstakingly molded and carved to the best of her ten-year-old ability. There was a pot, with lid, full of “gold coins” — she colored a piece of paper with yellow marker, then punched every coin out with a hole punch. There was a bust of the tomb’s occupant, a scribe she named Hunefer. She also included a scarab beetle, and would have liked to include more, but we were running out of both time and Sculpey. (Part of this was my fault, because while she was working I stole some of her Sculpey to make myself a Fire Nation pendant. Any Avatar fans out there?)
We downloaded a printable sarcophagus paper craft from this website. It seems they used it for some kind of religious lesson, because “First Born” is across the front of the sarcophagus. We easily corrected that using Gimp, but if you don’t have Gimp you can probably use MS Paint, or just corrective liquid after you print it out. If you don’t like that one here is a sarcophagus coloring page to help you design your own.
Faith colored her sarcophagus, cut it out and glued it together, then set it aside to await Hunefer’s mummy. The mummy we made very easily: we found an action figure for about a dollar at Wal-Mart and wrapped him in papier-mache. Pro-tip: if you are out of white/AP flour, go to the store and get more. You cannot just substitute white whole wheat flour. It gets all clumpy and weird and takes forever to dry. (Oops — my bad.) Also, while you will definitely wan to do multiple layers of papier-mache, only do one layer at a time, and allow it to dry completely before applying the next layer. (Oops — Faith’s bad.)
Once Hunefer the mummy was in his sarcophagus, Faith gave him a dagger she had made of Sculpey. She explained to me that she ought to have wrapped up “ankhs and stuff” with him, but the papier-mache would have ruined it and I couldn’t see it anyway, so she didn’t do it. Can’t argue with that logic.
Once Hunefer was resting peacefully in his tomb, it was time for Faith to write her essay. First, I had her gather each piece of her research and pertinent information on a separate note card. We decided which were important to the essay and which were unnecessary. Next, she grouped her information into “paragraph piles”, and organized each paragraph pile’s note cards in the order they should go.
Now she was ready to write her rough draft. I have taught Faith that rough drafts should always be written as neatly as possible, and double-spaced, on one side of the page. This way, her revising and editing process goes easier on her.
Lastly, I had her type her essay on the computer. Typing is one of those holes in her education which is inexplicable to me — when I was in school, we did typing three days per week on a special computer game, and surely today’s kids need it even more than we did! As soon as we began home schooling, I found typing games for her to practice on, and she is still very slow, but there is major improvement. When she had done one final check of her essay, she printed it and glued it to the inside of her tomb box’s lid.
As you can see, the simple act of writing a one page essay encompassed more lessons than I can count on one hand: research and fact-checking, organization, writing a rough draft, handwriting, editing/copy editing, and typing. That sounds like a tall order for a ten year old, but she only worked on it for a total of maybe three hours over the course of two days — and a lot of that was because she is still a slow typist!
The essay portion of the project can be scaled up or down depending on age level. A younger child should only write a paragraph, or perhaps a series of one-sentence note cards detailing the objects in their tomb. You would want a longer essay from an older child, with an added lesson in correct citation for high school age kids. I felt one page (double spaced) was appropriate for a child of Faith’s age and abilities.
All in all, the Ancient Egyptian tomb was our most successful project in the whole unit. It was fun, it covered multiple areas of learning using multiple methods of learning, and really showed me that Faith knew her stuff when it came to Ancient Egypt.
I have included a link to download the rubric I created for Faith’s project below. Have fun making your own!