Tuesday, October 30, 2012

More Than Planned

Egypt. It's been a major topic for a few weeks in our home. We've looked at maps. We've read books. We've watched YouTube clips. We've played games. We've done crafts. We've done experiments. We've sung songs ("Pharaoh, Pharaoh" anyone?).

I have a love-hate relationship with the whole subject of Egypt.

Its past is full of demonic worship and idols. But, its past is also full of rich history from civilizations that started us toward the course of the science, medicine, and technology we have today.

Its past is full of remarkable accounts of God moving in the lives of his people to accomplish amazing things. Currently, however, its in a place of political chaos and religious brutality to anyone renouncing Allah.
As the boys and I study history this year, we began at Creation and are slowly working through the ancient civilizations. I arrived at lesson plans for Egypt and anticipated a day, two at most, as we talked about ancient Egypt from a very general perspective:
- Location: Upper right corner of Africa.
- Climate: Hot and dry
- Geography: Desert, Nile River, Mediterranean Sea
- Famous: Pyramids, pharaohs, hieroglyphics

"Africa? Mom, does that mean jungles and cheetahs?"
"The Nile River? Is that a long river? Was that where baby Moses was found?
" Pyramids? Can we make some with our Legos? Or, what if we try to make mud blocks in the sandbox and then dry them?
"Pharaohs are very mean, you know. If they don't like you they send plagues to make you sick and hurt."

And so, the what-was-supposed-to-be-a-day-of-study became an almost-three-weeks-of-study. Can I get an amen for flexibility of homeschooling?
As gruesome as it was to read about the process of dissecting, drying, and embalming the bodies that were put in the pyramids, it was equally as fascinating. Micah wants to try to recreate the tool used to pull the brain out of the nostrils, and Grady Lee wants to find a museum where we can go see excavated mummies. I haven't decided if this is a healthy curiosity or if I should be concerned.

The eewww factor aside, we did a really fun and simple experiment that helped us understand the process of assembling a mummy and why the Egyptians had figured out the best possible way of mummifying bodies. If you're interested in giving the following a try, check out this link for details.
In short, we sliced a couple of apples, gathered various preservatives and spices, cut strips out of bandage cloth, and got to work making mummies. Our goal was to see the results of apple slices placed in various preservatives, some wrapped and some not, and determine which method was most effective at preserving the apple slice.
We used baking soda, vinegar, sugar, and salt. There are many options but I went with what I had on hand. For each substance, we wrapped and submerged an apple slice and we also submerged a slice without wrapping it. My boys really enjoyed wrapping and dipping the slices, and it provided an opportunity to discuss our hypothesis of what each apple slice would look like when we uncovered them a week later.
When a week had passed, my boys were excited with the chance to dig out and unwrap their apple mummies. What would they look like? What would they feel like? What would the smell like?
We arranged and labeled all the apple slices on a tray so we could compare and contrast them. My boys even brought out their magnifying glasses. I'm not sure they helped in any additional way, but according to Grady Lee, "Scientists always look at things up close when they are investigating."
To finalize this project (and our Egypt study altogether!), I asked the boys to choose four apples that they wanted to document and draw.
When they were finished, they added their sheets to the History section of their notebooks. "Mom, we sure do have a lot of stuff about Egypt, don't we?" asked Micah. I nodded in agreement, and deep down, I was happy that our Egypt study took us further and deeper than I had planned.


  1. You are such a CREATIVE mommy!!! LOVE all your wonderful ideas!!! Your kids are blessed to have you as their teacher!

  2. Hmm....I am thinking that it might be a teensy bit unfair to keep all that amazing teaching talent and creativity to the Peeler family only...I might have to bring my kids over to your house to learn from you! :-) Wanna share the wealth?