Egypt and Ancient Civilizations

The Four Cradles of of Eastern Civilization: A frustration in teaching social studies is the lack of time.  Of the four ancient cradles (Egypt, Mesopotamia, Indus, China), I have decided to focus on Egypt rather than “brush” all four... however it is important that we know where the “cradles of civilization were located,” so today’s lesson will stress that.

The Fine Print: Content Standards.... A. (Geography)  Students in Wisconsin will learn about geography through the study of the relationships among people, places, and  environments. B. (History) Students in Wisconsin will learn about the history of Wisconsin, the United States, and the world, examining change and continuity over time in order to develop historical perspective, explain historical relationships, and analyze issues that affect the present and the future.

Performance Standards....A.8.7 Describe the movement of people, ideas, diseases, and products throughout the world   A.8.8 Describe and analyze the ways in which people in different regions of the world interact with their physical environments through vocational and recreational activities  A.8.9 Describe how buildings and their decoration reflect cultural values and ideas, providing examples such as cave paintings, pyramids, sacred cities, castles, and cathedrals  A.8.10 Identify major discoveries in science and technology and describe their social and economic effects on the physical and human environment  A.8.11 Give examples of the causes and consequences of current global issues, such as the expansion of global markets, the urbanization of the developing world, the consumption of natural resources, and the extinction of species, and suggest possible responses by various individuals, groups, and nations --B.8.7 Identify significant events and people in the major eras of United States and world history B.8.8 Identify major scientific discoveries and technological innovations and describe their social and economic effects on society  B.8.10 Analyze examples of conflict, cooperation, and interdependence among groups, societies, or nations  B.8.12 Describe how history can be organized and analyzed using various criteria to group people and events chronologically, geographically, thematically, topically, and by issues.

Unit Objectives.... The students will learn… 1) the four original places of ancient civilization, 2) necessary conditions for the founding of a civilization, 3) conditions in Egypt that allowed the development of thought and invention, 4) the influence of geography on ancient Egypt, 5) the rise and fall of Egypt based on conflict and economic expansion.


The student in grades 5-12 should understand

  • the major characteristics of civilization and how civilizations emerged in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Indus valley.
  • how agrarian societies spread and new states emerged in the third and second millennia BCE.
  • the political, social, and cultural consequences of population movements and militarization in Eurasia in the second millennium BCE.
  • major trends in Eurasia and Africa from 4000 to 1000 BCE.
    The student in grades 5-12 should understand
  • innovation and change from 1000-600 BCE: horses, ships, iron, and monotheistic faith.
  • the emergence of Aegean civilization and how interrelations developed among peoples of the eastern Mediterranean and Southwest Asia, 600-200 BCE.
  • how major religions and large-scale empires arose in the Mediterranean basin, China, and India, 500 BCE-300 CE.
  • the development of early agrarian civilizations in Mesoamerica.
  • major global trends from 1000 BCE-300 CE.

Tuesday, October 4th EGYPT 'BACKWARDS' UNIT'  

What We are Doing:
1) I am going to test a theory I have in the teaching of social studies with this unit.  I'm calling it 'backwards teaching' because I am going to start with modern times and then work my way backwards through history.  My expectation is that my students will learn about why things are today by backtracking and putting the riddles of history together.  It's worth a shot and I'm confident it's going to work!  I will tell the kids what I am doing and why and get them all on board with it.

2) The study of any place on earth should begin with geography.  I have prepared a packet that we will be working on, that can be downloaded below.

3) We went through the first two pages of the packet and I assigned the students to answer the questions on page 2 using the Notes App on their Ipads... once the printer is fixed I'll pass out hard copies.


Egypt Geography Unit
This is the packet that the kids should have received today* *The printer was not working properly.

Wednesday, October 5th EGYPT 'BACKWARDS' UNIT' -- Geography, Day 2  

1) We went over Page 2 of the packet (formative grade) that was posted on yesterday's site... some of things discussed in class will be....
  • Wisconsin (64,000 square miles) is about six times smaller than Egypt (386,000 square miles).
  • We will talke about the Aswan High Dam and Lake Nasser.  We will discuss hydroelectric power, and if Egypt should have built this dam in the early sixties since they had to move several ancient sites.  I'll discuss energy in Wisconsin and also coal and nuclear energy.
  • We will locate the Suez Canal and draw maps showing how much time a ship can save by using it rather than going around Africa.
  • We will discuss how Southern Egypt is Upper Egypt and why Northern Egypt is Lower Egypt.
  • We will discuss some photos of Egypt... the Western Desert with an oasis...the Red Sea and how the Red Sea got its name...the Mediterranean Sea (Mediterranean means "Middle Earth" in Latin), the Sinai Peninsula and Mount Sinai...I'll tell the story of Moses...not as a Biblical teacher but what it says in the Bible as a historical account of the escape of Jews led by Moses from Egypt... the Suez Canal... the Nile and the Nile Delta.
  • We will begin the discussion Egypt's relations with Israel and how the Suez was closed for two years during the Six Day War.
  • We will introduce the buildings on the Giza Plateau and define what a plateau is.
  • We got more rain already last week (3"+) than Egypt does in a year! (2"-)

2) The kids are to take what they learned today and turn into a KEYNOTE which is due tomorrow.  All of what I'm looking for is listed in the bullets above.

Egypt 1 Keynote
I know there are some typos on this but I can't find the original file to fix them! See if you can find the mistakes :-|

Thursday, October 6th EGYPT 'BACKWARDS' UNIT' -- Geography, Day 3  

1) We are going to work on Page 3 on the Egypt packet (see above).  Each student was given a hard copy of this.

2) Geography Vocabulary Day! We are going to make maps that include the following features, working in paris, ... the countries will be fictitious.... features that need to be included on the map are below.  Each pair will make their country on their will be creative and fun!


FRIDAY, October 7th EGYPT 'BACKWARDS' UNIT' -- Geography, Day 4  

2) We'll use class time to finish our fantasy maps if needed...then....

3) Then we are going to make keynotes that include definitions and pictures of the following terms...including source, mouth, delta, and tributaries , Plateau, Mountain, Valley, Peninsula , Isthmus, country, continent... AND a sea, gulf, and bay.

For each slide, they should have a photo (not one I used already) and a definition.  Due next Tuesday.


Monday, October 10th EGYPT 'BACKWARDS' UNIT' -- Geography, Day 5 

The internet was down in my room today, so we went with plan "B"..

1) We learned the four ancient cradles of civilization... The Nile River, the Tigris-Euphrates River Valley, the Indus River Valley, and the Hwang Ho (Yellow River) Valley in China.  This is will be on the quiz tomorrow.


Tuesday, October 11th EGYPT 'BACKWARDS' UNIT' -- Geography, Day 6 

1) WE started with a quiz, which took longer than I expected...

1) Each student is going to produce a keynote that highlights five different places in Egypt that they would visit if they had won a free trip there.  Each slide must have a short description, a screen shot from google earth, and a photo from the web if possible.  In addition, they need to download a blank map of Egypt and take it to an app they have called Educreations.  Once there, they can paste the map and then put dots or stars on the five places that they visited on their virtual trips!

2) Due date will be set tomorrow...we will have class time tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 12th EGYPT 'BACKWARDS' UNIT' -- Geography, Day 7  and
THURSDAY, October 13th

1) I had some kids retake the quiz from yesterday... and we also reviewed Middle Eastern Geography from last week to see how our memories are working.

1) Each student is going to produce a keynote that highlights five different places in Egypt that they would visit if they had won a free trip there.  Each slide must have a short description, a screen shot from google earth, and a photo from the web if possible.  In addition, they need to download a blank map of Egypt and take it to an app they have called Educreations.  Once there, they can paste the map and then put dots or stars on the five places that they visited on their virtual trips!

2) Due date will be set tomorrow...we will have class time tomorrow.


Friday, October 14th Current Events: Russian Involvement in CyberWar and Syria

We talked about Russian involvement in cyber attacking the US trying to influence the American election, the complicated web that is causing the destruction of Aleppo, Syria... and what American reaction to all of this should be.

We had good class discussions.  My primary goal is to gets engaged in the world around them.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 17TH:  EGYPT 'BACKWARDS' UNIT'  - Egyptian (Arab) / Israeli Relations

One of the hotspots in the world, really since the dawn of human time, has been the crescent of land that runs from Egypt along the Mediterranean Sea through Israel.  To understand modern Egypt, we also need to understand modern Israel and both countries other neighbors that include amongst others, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan...and the people that remain without a country since early wars between Israel and the Arab coalition, the Palestinians.

1) We will begin by looking at the history of Israel through a series of maps.  I'll give an overview of the fundamental difference between Jews and Arabs (religion!) and the struggle that both people have had over the same narrow slip of land since ancient times.

2) There is no assignment for tomorrow.  I do expect the kids to get the overall idea of the expansion of Israel since its creation and the subsequent effort, and failure, of the Arab nations to eliminate it.  We will then discuss the 1982 peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, and how Egypt was the first Arab nation to recognize Israel's right to exist.


3) Time Permitting: 20th Century Battlefields: 1973 Yom Kippur War


1) We are going to look more specifically at the geography of Egypt, Israel and surrounding nations.

2) We took a non graded pop quiz... there will be an Edmodo quiz tomorrow.

3) I'm passing out a sheet that asks a variety of questions about the geography of this region.  The kids will need to use their Ipads to find answers!  I'm teaching to become independent learners...not ask the teacher or another adult "What's the answer?" but to go find the answer using the web, which is arguably the greatest invention in the distribution of knowledge, thought, and garbage in human history. This is due tomorrow.

4) Geography is the base level of understanding the's like knowing your addition or multiplication facts in math.  I don't ask the kids to memorize many things... but I do want them to be able to 'see' a place in their minds when they hear the name of a country or other important landform.

Wednesday and Thursday, OCTOBER 19TH-20th:  Israel and Palestine: Geography


1) We are going to look more specifically at the geography of Israel.  We will Google Earth into the Gaza Strip and West Bank.  I'll describe the United States attempts at forging a peace, which is difficult at best.

2) We will take a test on geography on Friday.

Friday, October 21st:  EGYPT 'BACKWARDS' UNIT'  - Israeli-Arab Relations: the Six Day War and the Yom Kippur Wawr

1) Britain promised the Jews that they could have their own country in what was then called Palestine.  In 1948, the United Nations partitioned (split up) the land between the Palestinian Arabs the the Jews, who were pouring into the country.  After being attacked by several nations, Israel not only defended itself, but took away most of the Palestinian's territory.  Thousands of Arab refugees fled to neighboring Arab countries...many are still there today.

2) Constant small battles flared up and down for the next 20 years.  Then, in 1967, Israel learned of an impending Arab attack from all of her Arab neighbors.  She struck first.  Today we are going to learn about the Six Day War and why many Israeli's consider it a miracle.

3) We are going to watch this film: 20th Century battlefields; the Yom Kippur War.  We will be STOPPING FREQUENTLY and looking at the map packet (which you can find below), and discussing that war and how it shaped our modern world.

4) My major objective is NOT that the kids have to learn about all the tiny details, but that they get a feel for what Arab-Israeli relations are like.

Monday, October 24th:  EGYPT 'BACKWARDS' UNIT'  - Israeli-Arab Relations: the Yom Kippur War continued.

TODAY'S SITUATION REPORT: Turkish jets attacked Kurdish militia, north of Aleppo, yesterday.   The Kurds have been American Allies in the war against ISIS... but the Turks are also our allies...what do we do?
1) Yesterday we talked about complacency and what it means.  This happened to Israel after their victories in the Six Day War.  They paid for this when they were attacked, starting the Yom Kippur War.
2) Israel once again survived.  Egypt was the first Arabic nation to ask Israel for peace.  In 1979, Egypt and Israel signed the Camp David Accords, in which Egypt recognized Israel's right to exist, the first Arab nation to do this.
3) Palestine remains a people without a country.  This unanswered question will remain a bug to the United States as it continues to support Israel and press Israel for the creation of an Palestinian homeland.
4) We will continue to watch 20th Century Battlefields as a our primary source.



Israel in Maps

Pharaoh Fuzzmohse guided students of the Giza Plateau today.

Tuesday, October 25th Focus on Egypt-The Giza Plateau and Pyramids

What We are Doing:

We started class with what I'm calling the Situation Room.  I am going to highlight a national security issue to help us keep with current events, learn about politics, and learn about geography... Today's topic: Turkish Nationalism!  Link to article is here.

The Egyptians founded a civilization 5000 years ago that put humanity on the path of discovery, invention, science, and exploration.  The set the course of world history that will always affect our lives everyday.

1) I"ll show the students a video I made: Pharoah Fuzzmohse describes the major features of Egypt 

2) We'll look at a map of modern Egypt on Google Earth, noticing where Egypt's major geographical features are.

3) We'll watch excerpts of a video: A Tour of the Nile

4) This is a good video too, if we have time (or do outside of class if you are interested: Journals Through History Ancient Egypt Constructing Civilization


• Egypt was divided into two separate kingdoms, the Upper and Lower Kingdoms.
• The Nile River gently floods every spring, bringing new top soil to the fields.  This allowed the Egyptians to remain in one place for several generations.

• 99% of Egyptians live within 10 miles of the Nile... or in 1% of the country.


National Skills: 1) Drawing Conclussions, 2) Identifying Cause and Effect, 3) Making Inferences, 12) Photographs, 14) Drawing and Diagrams, 15) Maps.

Wednesday, October 26th: Egyptian Archtecture: Great Pyramid

Thursday, October 27th: continued

What We are Doing:

There are dozens of theories on how the Egyptians built the pyramids.  We are learning new things from newly discovered evidence all of the time.  I have gone to try and find how different theories explain how each author thinks how the Egyptians pulled off this amazing feat.  

I've included a very short list of videos that explain different theories on how the pyramids were built. I personally am intrigued by the first video is it is the first time I've seen this theory presented over the traditional ramp theory.

1) The students will watch the first video from Pharaoh Fuzzmohse introducing the knowledge quest on the video clip below.

2) Each student will make a 10 step list of how they think the ancient Pyramids were built!  This will be assigned soon and we'll have some discussions both today and tomorrow. 


1) Building the Pyramids of Egypt: A Basic Step by Step Guide (Required): Water Shaft Theory

2) Ancient Egypt: Engineering an Empire: Long video, shows how the first pyramid (Djoser) was built and how Snefru perfected the art of pyramid building.

Modern Marvels: Secret Entrances to the Great Pyramid

3) The Hidden Secret of the Great Pyramid: French archeologist tours the inside of Great Pyramid and shares his ideas on how it was all constructed.

4) Secrets of the Egyptian Pyramids HD: Shows how the Egyptians used the stars and geometry to design the Great Pyramid.

5) The Great Giza Cover Up: What They Don't Want You to Know

6) Ancient Aliens Exposed: The Giza Plateau


NUMBERS to consider: CMS is approximately 90,000 square feet on two levels.   CMS is approximately 150' x 150' x 25' high.  ASSIGNMENT: Compare the volume of CMS with the volume of the Great Pyramid using the dimensions from today's graphic.


Egyptian kids had to do their District Writing on papyrus, like this.

Monday, October 31st District Writing

due Friday, November 4th


1. We have been taking notes off the video that we watched the past two days (Step by Step guide to building the Pyramids)... our notes included...


Pyramid Construction Notes

  • They built a canal from the Nile to the Giza Plateau
  • Had to have infrastructure in place: roads, canals, housing for workers, etc.
  • They had to get a flat surface…used water to check how level the surface was.
  • •The Egyptians first needed to make a level surface.  They used water from the Nile to check how level the surface was. 
  • •Workers took down the high areas with shovels, taking the dirt out and over the wall.  They filled in the low areas, until the surface was level…although they didn’t have to necessarily level the middle of the base.
  •   Only then, could construction begin.
  • Infrastructure- roads, canals, bridges… any construction to help people move and build.
  • Limestone blocks were chiseled while under water.
  • Limestone is softer in water, but turns hard when exposed to air.
  • They tied floaty goats to the blocks.  This way they could easily ‘spin’ the rocks around to chisel on them.
  • The workers stayed cool.
  • The water level was used to level the limestone blocks.
  • They cut a groove in the canal to keep the blocks stable.
  • They attached animals hides that they turned into floats to float to the limestone, which is fairly buoyant.  They also used cedar wood.
  • PAPYRUS was used for paper, but also used for mats.  When wrapped around floaty goats, it created a floaty.
  • Farmers did most of the work, and only during the three months that their fields were flooded.
  • They used water pressure using gates on a covered causeway. (Think of the matches floating in the glass). (Archimedes Principal).
  • Using four water shafts, one each on each side of the pyramid, and a series of gates, they were able to float these massive stones to the level on the pyramid that was being worked on at the time.
  • They flooded the level at the top as well, so workers could float the stones into place.  When they were ready, the water was drained out.
  • This is a theory.  It is one idea that people can think of that may be the truth.

1) I'm spending a lot of time working on their writing.  Writing is critical to success in life.  The kids are using a Google Doc, which is shared with me, so that I can 'pop in' on their papers at any time and work with them.  They can invite parents too if you are intested..just ask them to share!


I stressed VOICE... their papers should sound like they sound when they talk.  The best way to make sure this happens is to read it to themselves OUTLOUD... it is the best way to catch mistakes and the best way to see if the writing sounds natural.

Emphasis on grammar: Capitalization.  7th graders need to be able to do this effectively.

We also talked about sentence structure and paragraphs.  They were obsessed about how long the paper has to be, how many paragraphs, etc. I told them stories and we had discussions about how quality writing does not necessarily equate with writing more words.

FRIDAY beginning of class, I expect the papers to be completed.

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