Ancient civilisations usually come up in the curriculum starting around sixth grade, inspiring students and teachers to look for Egyptian projects that allow students to express their learning in creative ways. The rich culture and mythology of ancient Egypt provide a treasure trove of material on which to base school projects. Many types of Egyptian art contained religious significance, so in making an Egyptian project, students learn not only about the art but the beliefs that were embodied in the well-known icons of ancient Egypt.
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Cartonnage Face Mask
In the Egyptian belief system, the mummy mask served to help the person's spirit recognise him when it returned to the body after journeying into the afterlife. Legend had it that the sun god Ra had golden skin so the masks were made to resemble this feature. To make a personalised cartonnage mask, cut a large oval of poster board and a hole in the middle just big enough to fit securely around the face. Have the child put it on and cover the ring and face with cling film, making slits for the mouth and nose so she can breathe. Mold papier-mâché strips over the face and ring to sculpt the facial features. Let it dry for about 10 minutes before removing it from the child's face. Set the mask in a warm, dry place until it is completely hardened. Spray paint the entire mask gold and let dry. Let the student paint embellishments, eyes and other features as desired.
Egyptian priests were the primary users of hieroglyphic script, which had religious significance to the ancient people because they considered it the words of God, according to Discovering Egypt. Each pictograph represented a specific sound or sound combination, words or abstract ideas. Text can run from left to right, right to left or vertically. You can determine text direction by looking at which direction the human and animal figures face as they look toward the beginning of the line. Students who have an interest in languages may enjoy using hieroglyphs to tell a short story. Let the student write a story and plan the hieroglyphs needed to translate it into ancient Egyptian. She can paint the hieroglyphs on a large poster board and decorate it to resemble an ancient Egyptian tablet.
Pyramids and sand come easily to mind in any word association of Egypt. A student can fill a shallow carton or box lid with sand and sculpt a salt dough pyramid to set in his sandy desert once it is dry. Add small Egyptian figures and run a trench for the Nile River covered with blue or silver cellophane or tin foil. Tie several short strands of raffia together at the ends to make a model reed boat to float on the river.
Ancient Egyptians believed that their amulets and ornamental jewellery had magical powers that would protect them and so they wore them constantly from birth. As religious icons, they were carefully designed to honour specific deities with use of materials associated with the god or goddess represented in the symbols, such as malachite and copper for Hathor. In addition, the gemstones used carried mythological meaning. For instance, turquoise represented joy and life, lapis lazuli creation and rebirth, and amazonite, good luck and fertility. Make your own amulet by cutting scarabs, lotus flowers, the eye of Horus and other Egyptian deity symbols out of cardboard. Paint or colour the shapes to add details. Stick-on faux jewels can represent the gemstones important to the deity. String the shapes on a piece of twine or leather lacing to wear your Egyptian jewellery.
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