I had a hard time with Egypt. The whole time I was preparing to teach this block, I kept thinking, “What a bunch of weirdos!” Not exactly the correct mindset to impart a soul connection between the ancient Egyptian culture and my fifth grade child. I postponed this block once, thinking we needed a break from Ancient Mythologies, having done 3 in a row (India, Persia, Babylon). It seemed no matter how many times I read those myths or looked at books on Egypt, I just could not find a way in. I was thinking of postponing the block a second time when Tom said, “Sheil, it’s Egypt for God’s sake. Mummies! Pyramids! What’s the problem?” He can be so eloquent at times. Some days I think he should stay home and teach the lessons. Anyway, we got on with it.
We began, as usual, with the geography and then moved onto the myths in Charles Kovacs’ book: “Ra and His Children,” “Isis and Osiris,” and “Revenge of Horus.” There is a section in the Horus myth that talks about the judgement of the dead and the scales used to measure the worth of a person’s life. On one side of the scales is a feather and on the other a heart-shaped vessel. As I was reading the story aloud to Vincent, I could see this image so clearly in my mind and finally found a way to connect to the rich and enduring essence of these people. The question still haunts, several millennia later: “How does one measure the worth of a life?” I love the symbols of the heart and the feather. I was inspired to do the chalkboard drawing above and also a little beeswax modeling of my own.
After studying the gods and their myths, we moved on to look at the lives of everyday Egyptians using Voices of Egypt by Kay Winters. We also planned an Egyptian meal and spent some time drawing and writing with hieroglyphics on papyrus. We serendipitously ended the block with the story of the Bennu bird or the Phoenix as it later becomes known. Talking about what is essentially reincarnation was a nice way to connect back to India, which is where we started way back in September.
- Ancient Mythologies, Charles Kovacs (Just like the other works of Charles Kovacs, I loved this book. He repeatedly ties together all 4 cultures studied in grade 5. His storytelling is just magnificent.)
- Ancient Mythology: India, Persia, Babylon, Egypt, Donna Simmons
- Voices of Egypt, Kay Winters
- Tales of Ancient Egypt, Roger Lancelyn Green (I did not like this book at all. I found the myths to be confusing and much too detailed. I read the introduction and the first story, “Ra and His Children.”)
- Hieroglyphs by Joyce Milton (This book came with a stencil that Vincent really enjoyed using.)
- The Cat of Bubastes, G.A. Henty (I hope to get to this book sometime before grade 6. It is a Mama recommendation, so I know it will be good. Trust this woman where books are concerned!)
- Drew map of Egypt using the technique I describe in our India block.
- Wet-on-wet watercolor painting of the rising sun and the horizon to represent Horus
- Wrote summaries of the stories we heard. After Vincent retold the story we heard the day before, we condensed his verbal retelling down to a few sentences. I wrote this summary on the board and he had to copy it into his main lesson book before the next morning. Example: “Horus was the son of Isis and Osiris. He gathered an army to fight against Set. This was to avenge his father’s death. In the end, Horus was victorious. He then became Pharaoh of Egypt.”
- Beeswax modeling of a heart.
- Block crayon rubbing and watercolor painting of a phoenix. (We used the cover of Egyptology for this project.)
- Corresponded with another Waldorf homeschooler using hieroglyphics and papyrus. (This was so much fun. Thanks Andrea and Logan!)
- The Multicultural Cookbook for Students, Carole Lisa Albyn and Lois Sinaiko Webb
- Holidays of the World Cookbook for Students, Lois Sinaiko Webb
- A Journey Through Time in Verse and Rhyme, Heather Thomas (There are wonderful poems for all the ancient cultures in this book.)