Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Our Travels Further in to Ancient Egypt!

Kindergartners continued their journey into the realm of the Ancient Egyptians and the study of the mummification process in particular.  We are finding out some interesting details about this very sophisticated process using books, artwork, x-ray photos, artifact models and the Internet then comparing this information with modern day burial practises.

We were surprised to learn what internal organs Egyptian embalmers stored in canopic jars and deemed as important for the "Afterlife" and which ones they chose to throw away (the brain for instance.) Coincidentally, Ks had a recent visit from Isha's Dad, a neurologist, who explained the importance of the brain so were a bit confused by the Egyptian's choice.

We created models of mummies using shredded paper pulp, warm water and glue.  Ks were reminded that once the mummy was formed it should be left alone undisturbed to dry properly.  We did not have to wait as long as the Ancient Egyptians (their process took about 90 days altogether) but we did need our figures to dry out for about 9 days. In the meantime, we had a real life incident happen as an example of why one would want a wrapped "body" to dry out completely. Our K classroom seeped in a bit of water during a heavy rain storm recently. A small section of our carpeting was soaked! In our quest to dry our floors we "mummified" the area using large bath towels that acted as linen bandages and sprinkled baking soda (our version of natron/salt) to avoid rotting and smelling.  (Every teachable moment counts!) It worked!  The carpet is sufficiently preserved for years to come!

After our paper mache mummies were allowed to dry out for a few weeks, they were wrapped with gauze strips and allowed to dry some more.  In the meantime, shabtis (small doll like figures) were created out of clay to represent servants in the afterlife.  Shabtis are place inside the sarcophagus and wrapped in the mummies bandage layers. The quantity of shabtis indicated wealth so Kindergarten created lots!

Our Head of School, Walter happened to stop by during our activity and appeared intrigued by our gooey yet scientific embalming process. 

In Math class, we have been challenging our critical thinking skills while converting numbers into Ancient Egyptian symbols. We are also using skewers to practice counting by 1s, tally groups of 5 and bundle groups of ten sticks in the process.  Problem solving and logical thinking skills were paired with group discussions and partnerships to hopefully make the task more palatable.  Kindergartners are taking more risks by doing something 'hard' and appear pleased with some of their results. 

Another Math activity included a "Minute to win it" challenge to work together to assemble a steady pyramid!

As a part of one of our writing activities during Language Arts, Ks performed the role of the Egyptian scribe while using hieroglyphic stamps to spell out their names and other words on papyrus like paper.

Kindergartners traveled to the U of M Kelsey Museum of Archeology to visit our favorite docent, Jean.  She led us on a tour of the museum's many acquisitions including Dr. Kelsey's excavation of an ancient Egyptian city.  We marveled at the well preserved woven baskets, writing desks, pottery, glass work, sandals, decorative slabs and toys.  We also compared the elaborately carved sarcophagus of a priest to the greatest find to date, that of King Tutankhamen.

Examples of  canopic jars and shabtis
Docent Jean also told us that archaeologists have found ways to x ray mummies without unwrapping them or disrespecting some burial rituals.  3D imaging gives us a clearer picture of how certain figures may have looked in life and how Ancient Egyptians, including King Tut, may have died.  Kindergartners are hopefully learning ways to admire and celebrate history and culture in respectful ways.

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