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Egyptology – Mummification

Ancient Egypt is a fascinating subject for children. My son, Rayes, loves to discover the wonders of Ancient Egypt through reading! There are seemingly a million books on this topic, but his favourites so far have been :

  • National Geographic Kids – Everything Ancient Egypt
  • I Wonder Why Pyramids Were Built
  • 1000 Facts Ancient Egypt
  • Usborne Young Readers – Tutankhamun

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One of the most memorable things about Ancient Egypt for kids, has to be the well-preserved mummies they left behind! Rayes used the information that we gleaned from these books to come up with a list that we could use in our own mummification activity.

1First-wash-the-dead

I thought long and hard about how we could incorporate a hands-on activity for mummification. Someone suggested we mummify a chicken,   fruits or veggies. But ultimately I really I wanted to do something that had more to do with the ritual aspect of mummification. So, we decided to mummify Barbie!

First we gathered our materials:

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I cut out little organs from pieces of craft felt. I taped the heart to her chest because that was the only organ that got to stay with the body. The Ancient Egyptians believed that the heart contained the soul and in the afterlife it was judged accordingly.

We started with the removal of the brain which was pulled out through the nose with a special tool (we used tong). The brain was deemed unimportant by the Ancient Egyptians and discarded immediately.

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 Removal of the brain through the nose

The other organs, however, were removed and preserved in canopic jars. I didn’t have time to prepare the canopic jars. Canopic jars were used by the Ancient Egyptians during the rituals of mummification processes to hold the internal organs of the deceased that was going to be mummified. The jars had lids or stoppers that were shaped as the head of one of the minor funerary deities known as the Four Sons of HORUS.

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Removal of the organs 

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Organs removed kept in the canopic jars

Next, we covered the body with salt. The Ancient Egyptions used Egyption salt called ‘natron’ to treat the body. The body and organs were then left in this solution for 35 days to allow the necessary chemical changes to occur.

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Salting the body

After salting, we brushed the body with oils.

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Brushing the body with oil  

Then the process of wrapping began… We used a few strips of white crepe papers found in my art supplies. You could also use white linens!

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Wrapping the body 

Then it was time to put on the death mask and “pray over the body”. Rayes prayed that this mummy will soon get to play with all her favourite toys in the afterlife.

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All wrapped…

The Ancient Egyptians placed mummies in wonderfully built tombs. The tombs were painted with nice scenes from the deceased person’s life. We kind of fudged a bit on the whole sarcophagus/tomb thing. But hey you got to work with what you got and what we had was an empty shoe box.  

Mummies were often buried with many of their belongings that might be needed in the afterlife. So we placed jewels and accessories in the tomb/shoebox. Barbie was ready to be welcomed into the afterlife accompanied by her favourite things! Rayes paid his final respects.. Goodbye dear friend..

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VOLCANOES

Learning about volcanoes is always  super fun!!

We read several books and watched eruptions on youtube. We talked about some science behind; how volcanoes are formed, why volcanoes exist and what causes them to erupt. When exploring about volcanoes with children, it is also important to discuss how they affect people and how we are safe and not anywhere close to any active volcanoes.

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For a little history lesson, we talked about memorable volcano eruptions in history from Pompeii, to Paricutin, to Mt. St. Helens. We pointed out these volcanoes in books we read and I showed him some related videos on youtube.

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Volcano Picture Set Cards and Parts of Volcano Cards

My son really enjoyed  the books about volcanoes, but he was really excited to see and talk about pictures of volcanoes, so I prepared Volcano Picture Set Cards and Parts of Volcano Cards for him.

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Volcano Picture Set Cards

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Parts of Volcano Cards

We also watched nomenclature cards on Parts of Volcanoes on youtube. You can go to this link to view the video.

Baking Soda eruption

Of course we had to do the classic vinegar and baking soda volcanoes. My son loved this. So exciting !! It took several times to get it right and we used up all of the vinegar and baking soda!!

188280990To make vinegar and baking soda volcanoes, pour some vineyard and red food colouring in a small container and then add baking soda for an eruption. You can pile up dirt or play dough or sand around the container to make it look more like an actual volcano.

Personal experience

While I was on the subject of volcanoes, I tried to relate our own personal experience with the the help of photos and videos taken during our trip to National Park on the Big Island, Hawaii two years ago.

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Geography

The Montessori Geography curriculum is two-fold: physical and cultural. Physical geography discusses the formation of the universe, the creation of the earth, and all its physical properties. Cultural geography is the study of human society and culture. The two together show the child that we are all members of the human race who must co-exist peacefully in order to survive.

There are many ways to teach young children Geography. Start by introducing  the seven continents to your child. The most effective way to do this is by using a world map, a globe or a puzzle map. I invested on Montessori Apparatus – Globe of the Continents and Continents Puzzle Map for our Geography Studies.

Globe of the Continents

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It is a  wooden base globe that holds the globe at a 23 degree angle, the same as the Earth’s axis, in relation to the sun. With this globe the concept of the continents is presented to the child, which leads to work with the puzzle maps.

Continents Puzzle Map

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The wooden Montessori continent puzzle is beautiful, but they aren’t very practical for a homeschool. Still, it’s very helpful…. I am very impressed with the quality of this puzzle. It is very well-constructed, all the pieces fit in perfectly, and the colors are vibrant. If you can’t find an inexpensive world/continent puzzle, you can always print out an inexpensive but attractive control map like the ones from Montessori Print Shop.

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My little one took few days to recognise the seven continents and he is an expert now.. !

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 CONTINENT BOXES

Montessori encourages the use of objects when studying geography (hand-on) experiences. They stimulate a child’s interest and imagination and I think continent boxes  are a great way to organise geography materials, and make it fun and easy to study each continent. I have had “create continent boxes” on my to-do list for over a year! Finally I managed to get the project started!! i have no real plan with this project, it is just a fun way to expose my son to cultures, countries, and world geography in general. The continent boxes are works in progress, I even have a wishlist of books and things I want to add to this and other boxes! This is really exciting as I know my son is going to really thrive with his exploration. We will use these boxes for years and years!

Some of our boxes have more items then others. I am just putting stuff in as I come across it, adding a bit at a time hoping that the boxes will grow bigger and bigger. I will continue to add items and crafts as we study the continents. For now, I have my continent boxes set up like this :-

ASIA

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EUROPE

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AFRICA

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SOUTH AMERICA

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NORTH AMERICA

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AUSTRALIA

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ANTARTICA

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Antarctica is a tough continent because there is so little that lives there.

Some Tips for your Continent Boxes:-

  • I recommend starting with your own continent. 
  • Find a creative way to demonstrate land mass size to your kids. I use measuring cups !!

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  • Use Google images to print images/cards. I have made all the cards by using Google images. It was very time consuming, but a little more budget friendly.

  • You could choose to study each continent for a week or a month, depending on how many materials you have and how in-depth you want to take the study. We took about two months to study the seven continents.This is something that can be repeated as your child grows older, so you don’t need to have an extensive amount of materials to begin with, especially for a young child. You could just start with a simple introduction of a few materials for each continent this year.

I love the Continent Boxes so much and I really think it is a special part of my Montessori Classroom! I hope you feel inspired to bring the world to the kids in your life!

I think that the boxes look pretty good, but I do view them all as an on going project. I figure that we can add to them as we go. However, finding things from each continent can be difficult !! so GOOD LUCK!

BOOKS

If you make regular trips to the library, you should plan ahead and get books that supplement the curriculum. The books don’t have to be aimed at preschoolers. You can get books aimed at elementary age children. Read only portions you think your child will understand and discuss the pictures. Buying a childrens’ first atlas, such as the Collins First World Atlas may also be helpful.

Books that we use :-

  • Collin My First Atlas
  • Collins My First Book of Flags
  • World Atlas for Children
  • Mini Atlas/A Unique Table Mat

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Asian Geographic Junior

We also subscribed to Asian Geographic Junior (This magazine subscription was a gift by his beloved grandfather….)This is the only magazine that features Asia, the worlds largest continent. It is very good for children especially aged 4 and above as they will be exposed to a colorful and specific culture, exciting wildlife endemic to the region and also changing trends that are shaping Asia.

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Art – Shaving Cream Earth

This is a very quick and easy shaving cream activity to do with your kids.

First, spread shaving cream all over a paper plate. Next, squirt some poster paint or food colouring on the shaving cream. My boy decided to use only one colour (Green).

Use a spoon, pospsicles stick or toothpick to swirl (but not too much) to create a marbled effect. We did not use any of these since I preferred him to use his hands to encourage sensory play. Your earth shaving cream is ready!!

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ANIMALS OF THE CONTINENTS

I introduced the animals of each continent to Rayes using Montessori 3-part cards. Once he was pretty familiar with the animals of each continent, I brought out the Montessori 3-part cards.  I printed out two sets of each card and cut out the animals and word labels and challenged him  to match them to the picture.

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We also brought out all our plastic animals and he enjoyed sorting those onto the continents map as well

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SONGS

Sing the Countries of the world song with your children…

The Counties of the World Song – ASIA

The Countries of the World Song – EUROPE

The Countries of the World Song- Africa

The Countries of the World Song – The Americas

The Countries of the World Song – Oceania