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.
The "Four Cradles" were: Nile River (Egypt), Tigris-Euphrates Rivers (Mesopotamia), Indus River (India-Pakistan), and Yellow River (China).

Friday, September 12th Introduction to Ancient Civilizations  repeat... Monday, September 15th

What We are Doing:
1) There is evidence that human beings in our current form have populated the earth for at least 200,000 years, with the advent of primitive tools being used around 50,000 years ago.  Humans survived in mostly nomadic, small tribes, going to where they were most likely to find food.  In four separate places around the Eastern Hemisphere, four civilizations developed, all along rivers that flooded.  Because of this, humans living in these areas were able to grow crops, save food, erect protective walls and begin the development of things like art, science, literature, that make us truly human!

1A) Here is a video review (Ancient Civilizations 01) of what we will be learning today...

2) I'll have the students use "sketch it" on their Ipads to design a place that they would want to settle their "tribe" if they were looking to start a new society.  We'll discuss what natural features they found and why those features are important.

3) I'll use the whiteboard to show on a world map the location of the first four Eastern Hemisphere Ancient Civilizations.  They were Egypt (Nile), Mesopotamia (Tigris-Euphrates), India (Indus), and China (Yellow).

4) I'll use Google Earth to show them the four rivers as they look like today.  How have modern societies controlled the flooding of these rivers?  Are they still important?


• Civiilization: A group of people settling permanently with a consistent food supply.

• All needed a steady water supply that occasionally flooded and to be surrounded by natural protection from enemies.
• Each of the four developed incredible inventions and technologies when most of the rest of the world was throwing rocks at bunnies.

• Nomads/nomadic: Moving from place to place in search of food.
• Rivers... Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Indus, Yellow
• Civilizations... Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China


National Skills: 2) Identifying Cause and Effect, 3) Identifying Implications, 10) Summarizing Ideas, 11) Identifying the Main Idea, 12) Photographs, 15) Maps.

Four pages of reading fun!

Egypt Class Activity Monday, Sept. 12

Quiz of the Day Egypt 1
With Key!

This relief was found from Ancient Mesopotamia. All of these cultures developed beautiful art and buildings.

Tuesday, September 16th Comparing and Contrasting Ancient Civlizations

What We are Doing:

1) I have found an excellent website that breaks down the separate components of each of the four Ancient Civilizations in nice, easy to read, detail.  It can be found by clicking this link.... The River Valley Civilizations.  I have also turned it into a 'text' that kids can download into ghostwriter below in case they don't have an internet connection at home.

2) We are going to do an activity that investigates the similarities and differences between all of these ancient cultures.



• Geography: the land of a particular area.
• Social Structure: the class system of a society as defined by her people and government.
• Polytheistic Religion: Worshipping many gods.
• Monotheistic Religion: Worshipping a single God.
• Economy: How people make money and acquire goods through trade.

• Architecture: How buildings are designed and built.
• Military: How a country or society defends itself from invasion or attacks other countries.

ASSIGNMENT: The students show make four slides, each slide showing a different early civilization with a map, a photo of the river, and some building from that ancient culture.

National Skills: 1) Drawing Conclussions, 3) Making Inferences, 6) Restating Information, 10) Summarizing Ideas, 11) Identifying the Main Idea.

Ancient Civilizations Text Packet
From the River Valley Civilizations, on line at

Compare and Contrast Activity for the Ancient Civlilizations
Done in class, mostly.

The Nile River gently floods every spring, bringing new top soil to the fields around the river.

Wednesday, September 17th Focus on Egypt

What We are Doing:

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 on the Major Features of Egypt...A Google Earth Tour!

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: Egypt, Gift of the Nile (7 minutes)



• 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.

Thursday, September 18th Egyptian Geography

What We are Doing:


2) I passed out a paper sheet of a map of Egypt, asking the students to label the most important geographical features on these maps.  We've had a lot of technical difficulties with the wireless and this is plan B.

Extension: if you complete the map activity and are confident that you could get an A on a Egyptian geography quiz, you can watch some of the following...

Egyptian Culture cartoon video

How much do you know about Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egypt: National Geographic

Egypts Geographic Challenge


Friday, September 19th Egyptian Archtecture: Great Pyramid

Monday, September 22nd 

What We are Doing:

We want to see how big the Great Pyramid is, and the best way to do this is to go to Egypt!

But we can't :(

So, we are going to be making models of CMS and the Great Pyramid so we can see how big the Pyramid is if we put it on school property.
I think the kids will be amazed... :)


NUMBERS: CMS is approximately 90,000 square feet on two levels.... we used a key of 150' = 8".   CMS is approximately 150' x 150' x 25' high.  We used note cards to make that.

The Great Pyramids dimensions are shown below... how large does this have to be according to our key?


Tuesday, September 23rd Egyptian Archtecture: How Were the Pyramids Built?

There are dozens of theories on how the Eygptians 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 auhor 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 below (20 minutes)

2) Each student will make a 10 step list of how they think the ancient Pyramids were built!  This will be due on Thursday and we'll have some discussions both today and tomorrow.  Watch this video from Pharaoh Fuzzmohse for more instruction!


• Building the Pyramids of Egypt: A Basic Step by Step Guide (Required)

• Ancient Egypt: Engineering an Empire

• Secrets of the Egyptian Pyramids HD

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

Ancient Aliens Exposed: The Giza Plateau




Societies throughout history are divided into social classes based on jobs and money

Wednesday, September 24th Ancient Egyptian Social Order
Thursday, September 25th, Friday, September 20th
Friday, September 26th 
Ancient Egyptian Social Order Imovies

What We are Doing:


I will organize students into groups of four. Each student in the first group will draw a card from a container, record his or her role in ancient Egypt, and return the cards to the container. I'll repeat the procedure with each group. Each student in each group will have a different role to play; students in one group might have peers in another group who will be investigating the same role or job.

Students in each group pool their cards. The four members of each group are responsible for using print and online sources to gather information about all four of the roles or jobs their team has drawn. I'll give students two or three class periods to complete their research. As students do the research, they should consider the following question:

Based on the information you have been able to gather, where on the social scale do you think the people who held those positions stood? Which of the four positions you are investigating probably was the most important, had the highest prestige, or was held in the highest regard?

I'll challenge students to envision a class structure and to organize the jobs or roles they research in order of their importance.  Each student will be responsible for making a keynote page that they will email to the highest among them who will then form it into a single keynote.

When students complete their research, we'll write all 12 roles or jobs on a board or chart. One job or role at a time, I'll ask students to tell me what they learned about the people who held those positions. We'll take notes off the whiteboard. As students learn about the roles their group did not explore, they should try to envision where each group might have fit into the hierarchy of class or importance in the Egyptian culture.

Next, I'll have each group draw a triangle on a sheet of paper. Students will transform this triangle, which happens to be in the shape of an Egyptian pyramid, into a diagram reflecting the ancient Egyptian culture. I'll ask: Who was the most important person in Egyptian culture? Who was next in importance? Explain that those positions should appear near the top of the pyramid. I'll ask: What were the more common jobs held by the largest number of people? I'll explain that those jobs should appear near the bottom of the chart. The students will talk about the jobs in their groups as they use their pyramids to create a diagram of Egyptian class structure.

I'll then bring the groups together to share their diagrams and their thoughts. Was there a consensus or were there differences in the hierarchy in which the student groups placed the jobs?

at which students will find a diagram offering a view of where people who filled each role or job stood in the social order, is a good place to start the research.  Here is a good site. • SITE #2SITE #3SITE #4

Graded:  Students create pyramid structures that reflects some of the jobs in today's society. Then they write brief essays comparing the social structure in ancient Egypt with the social structure they see in society today.Due Friday.

The jobs:

  • craftspeople
  • doctors
  • engineers
  • farmers
  • high priests
  • nobles
  • pharaoh
  • priests
  • scribes (writers)
  • soldiers
  • tomb builders
  • vizier (high governmental official)


Society: how people fullfil functions in a large group such as a country, a city, etc.
pharaoh: the monarch (king or queen) of Egypt.
pyramid: funeral structures for Egyptian nobles.

PROJECT: Each student writes about their roll and then will get filmed as we make an imovie about the Egyptian Social Classes.  There are two groups per class.

Above and Beyond: While this is going on, students who have completed their tapings will begin work on a five slide (minimum) keynote featuring four (minimum) Egyptian gods or goddesses.  

National Skills: 1) Drawing Conclussions, 4) Making Inferences, 5) Restating Information, 9) Using Ideas in New Contexts, 11) Identifying Main idea, 14) Drawings and Diagrams.





Monday, September 29th Ancient Egyptian Social Order 

1) We will open the activity below and use Scribble Press to fill in the steps of the Egyptian Social Classes. 

2) We will review our videos from last Friday when the kids get the Activity done.


Egyptian Social Order Activity

Tuesday, September 30th Ancient Egyptian Mythology- Research on Culture

Wednesday, October 1st

1) Though we of course consider ancient pagan religions mythology, it was real to those people during their time.  Ancient religions were an attempt by their societies to explain nature and natural phenomena around them.  They were concerned to what happened to themselves when they died.  Over the course of time, stories were invented and embellished to address these issues.  As a result, Ancient Egypt developed a sophisticated and complex religion made of many gods and goddesses who played key roles in nature and the lives of men. Egyptians contributed an incredible amount of time and wealth to preserving themselves for the after life.  As we study ancient societies, we want to learn...need to learn...what their lives were like and what made them click.  They are, afterall, the founders of many things that we take for granted in Western Civilization today.

Today will be working on keynotes that show at least four Egyptian gods.  The students are to use their google skills for finding information and then present at least four gods or goddesses on a five slide keynote that will be due tomorrow....I can and will adjust the time limit if the students are working hard and need more time.

Here is a good website to get started!

Egyptian God Family Tree

We will watch the projects and discuss our learnings on Wednesday... and watch a FUZZMOHSE MOVIE!

If the Great Pyramid were dropped directly on top of us, this is how big it would be. 450' high too!

Thursday, October 2nd Review for the Test

What We are Doing:

1st, we'll take a short quiz.

1) Jeopardy! Review Game: Click here to play.

2) I'll pass out a study guide that closely mimics tomorrow's exam.

The Indus River flows through a part of the world that is very important to America today.

Monday, October 6th Ancient Civilizations: The Indus River Valley

What We are Doing:

What We are Doing:

1) We'll be learning about the Ancient Indus River Valley civilization today.  We are going to be using an outstanding website from the BBC for the basis of today's activities.

The outline of what we are going to be looking at is below.  To go to that section, click here!

Indus River Valley Artifacts Activity
We are going to make a trip to the Indus River Valley and Pakistan and try to determine what different artifacts from the Ancient Indus River people were used for.

Indus River Geography Worksheet

Ancient Babylon was a great empire in Mesopotamia

Tuesday, October 7th Mesopotamia

What We are Doing:

1) We are going to learn about the great ancient cities and geographical landforms of Mesopotamia that existed between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern day Iraq.

2) We'll begin by looking at different maps of the region.  Click here to enter the site we will be working on.

3) We'll next become Babylonian farmers and try to produce enough crops to stay alive on this simulation.  Unfortunately, this uses ShockWave technology and does not work with Ipads...only with computers.  We'll do it as a class activity today.

4) Next will discuss the famous Ziggaurat of Ur. Click here to open a pict of the building. Click on different parts of the complex to find out what each part was needed for.  Sketch this in Sketch it! Be ready to explain what you learned.

5) Check this out: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Watch this short documentary.

Part II of the Hanging Gardens Video


The Fertile Crescent: stretches from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.  Many early civilizations developed there.
Tigris and Euphrates Rivers: One of the four early birthplaces of Eastern Hemisphere civilization.
Mesopotamia: The name generally given to the civilizations that developed on the on the banks of the Tigris-Euphrates.
Babylon: One of the largest cities and empires to develop in Mesopotamia.
Tributary: A small branch of a larger river.  A tributary flows into the bigger river.
Source: The beginning of a river.
Mouth: The end of a river...larger rivers often form a delta, which fans out before reaching a sea or ocean.

National Skills: 1) Drawing Conclussions, 2) Identifying Cause and Effect, 3), Identifying Implications, 4) Making Inferences, 10) Summarizing Ideas, 12) Photographs, 14) Drawing and Diagrams, 15) Maps.


Over 8000 life size soldiers, all unique from each other, we're unearthed in 1974. They are over 2000 years old.

Wednesday, October 8th Yellow River and Ancient China

What We are Doing:

1) We'll watch a short video on the discovery of Chin's famous Terracotta army.  It's one of the greatest, recent, archeological finds.

2) Go to this site: The Minneapolis Institute of Art China's Exhibit.  Collect one artifact from the following dynasties (save these to a keynote, each with a new slide)... Shang, Chou, Ch'in, and Han.  Explain what each artifact is and make sure the name of the dynasty that the artifact was from is at the top of the slide.



Dynasty: A family that rules a country for a long period of time.  Not just a single person, but child after child.

The Shang were the first dynasty to leave written records.
The Chou gained power in part from their ability to extract iron.
In a feudal system, the rulers appoint nobles to control smaller parts of an empire.
Confucius tried to develop good government.
The Ch'in rulers clearly explained and strictly enforced laws.
The Legalists tried to suppress all thoughts that disagreed with their philosophy.
China grew into a powerful empire during the Han Dynasty
During the Han Dynasty, the Chinese invented paper, Chinese writers recorded the history of their land, and the Chinese first learned of Buddhism.

Ancient China Text and Work Sheet Activity

Thursday, October 9th Review

What We are Doing:

1) We are going to reviewing what we learned from all four Ancient Civilizations.

2) The kids will play a Jeopardy! Review game against partners.  It can be accessed by clicking here.

Friday, October 10th Exam

What We are Doing:

The Exam will take all period.

Your pharaoh would like very nice pyramid built for him!

Monday, October 13th Ancient Egyptian Building: The Pyramids

What We are Doing:

1) The test we took on Friday did not go overly well so I am going to reteach each concept and retest tomorrow.

2) No new assignment but the kids got their tests back so they can figure out where they went wrong if they in fact had a difficult time with it.

National Skills: 9) Using Ideas in New Concepts, 13) Line Graphs, 14) Drawings and Diagrams.

Tuesday, October 14th Exam-Retake

What We are Doing:

The Retake Exam will take all period. Hopefully this goes well!