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6-8: Mummy Madness

by Jo Oliver, Learn NC

This is a lesson for seventh grade Social Studies students to learn and demonstrate the mummification process used in ancient Egypt.

A lesson plan for Grade 7 Visual Arts Education and Social Studies

Learning outcomes

To allow students to experience a hands-on demonstration of the ancient religious art form of mummification.

Time required for lesson: 2 Hours

Materials/resources

Mummies

  • -apples (one for every student)
  • -carving tool (students can share these)
  • -toilet paper or paper towel roll (cut paper towel roll to make 2)
  • -small ziplock freezer bags
  • -hot glue gun
  • -canister of salt (one for every two students) (used for natron)
  • -roll of toilet paper or cloth (to wrap mummy in)
  • -several spray cans of clear glaze
  • -shoe box (one for every student)
  • -shovels

Apple Peelings – Organs of the Dead

  • -small baby food jars
  • -paint
  • -paint brushes
  • -small paint brushes
  • -dehydrater

Pre-activities

Talk and read about the ancient Egyptian practice of mummification.

Send home a list of supplies needed for this activity.

Mummy Fill in the Blank

Grave

Pharaohs

Embalmers

Resin

Bacteria

Burial

Death

Christianity

Coffins

Life

Decay

Mound

Natron

Nobles

Choose the correct word to complete each sentence.

1. The ancient Egyptians believed in ________ after ________.

2. Each body was placed in a __________ and accompanied by goods such as pottery, fishhooks, beads, and ivory combs.

3. Usually a small __________ was built over a grave.

4. After Egypt became united changes took place in __________ customs.

5. Bodies of ordinary people were laid out in wooden __________.

6. Tombs of ___________ and __________ were much more elaborate.

7. The dampness of the tomb encouraged __________ and __________.

8. __________ would remove body parts that would decay quickly – the stomach, liver, and lungs.

9. They dried out the bodies by using __________, a kind of salt that occurs naturally in Egypt.

10. The embalmers used __________, a sticky substance, to pour over the body to form a shell.

11. Mummification came to an end when most of the people had adopted __________ which said that the body did not have to be preserved to ensure eternal life.

Answers:

1. LIFE, DEATH

2. GRAVE

3. MOUND

4. BURIAL

5. COFFINS

6. PHARAOHS, NOBLES

7. BACTERIA, DECAY

8. EMBALMERS

9. NATRON

10. RESIN

11. CHRISTIANITY

Activities

Day 1:

1. Bring all supplies

2. Go over mummy worksheet

3. Read a few stories from Tales Mummies Tell by Patricia Lauber (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1985.) This book also has great pictures of mummies.

4. Paint baby food jars so they represent something about the student (put aside to dry).

Day 2:

1. Peel apples and place the peelings into the baby food jars and put the lid on

2. Carve the face into the peeled apple

3. Place carved apple into freezer bag and pour salt into the bag until full (leave until tomorrow)

This part of the activity is best done on a Friday so the carved apples can be left in the salt all weekend. A dehydrater can be used to dry teachings quicker. Sometimes teachings will become very soggy if there isn’t enough salt in the bag. You can eliminate the salt step if you like and just place them in a dry area to dry on their own or you can just use the dehydrater. No matter what you do, there will be a very strong odor. Warn students ahead of time so they’ll be aware of this.

Day 3: (Usually do this on Monday)

1. Take apple out of the salt.

2. Hot glue teaching to toilet or paper towel roll.

3. Spray with glaze.

4. Wrap entire “body” with toilet paper or cloth.

5. Place in shoe box and bury in a pre-selected place on campus.

You can come back at the end of the year and dig these up to see how they kept.

Assessment

Successful completion of the worksheet and producing a mummy to be buried.

Supplemental information

SAFETY TIPS: I have tried this activity several ways. The way I feel is safest is as follows: I request parent volunteers from each class. I usually have four to six parents that will volunteer. If I don’t have enough parents I enlist the aid of my assistant principals or principal. I place five tables at the front of my classroom and I assign each adult volunteer a table. I bring 5 kitchen knives from home and place one on each table. One student comes to each table and peels his apple. Once the peeling is completed a new student comes to the table. It’s fun to challenge them to try to peel teaching without breaking teaching skin. That way they have one long piece of apple peeling to place in their jar. For carving tools I generally bring plastic knives, toothpicks, and dental tools (the kind that scrapes tartar from around the gums). Definitely, the key to safety is plenty of supervision. The students are into the activity so much that there’s little time to do anything else.

I find talking to them about safety at the beginning of the lesson helps as well. Anyone who “plays” is sent to ISS or Time Out for the remainder of the activity.

Related websites

Ancient Egypt from the British Museum http://www.ancientegypt.co.uk/menu.html

Life in Ancient Egypt from the Carnegie Museum of Natural History http://www.carnegiemuseums.org/cmnh/exhibits/egypt/

Tour Egypt: Master Index Articles and Essays on Egypt http://www.touregypt.net/magazine/masterindex.htm

Comments

This is a great activity to do during the Fall. Students love to dig up their mummies in the Spring to see what they look like.

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