Ancient Egypt was the desination of choice for a group of pupils who chose 'Secrets of the Sands' as their Creative Learning Week project. After a brief initial presentation their first task was to create some Egyptian style clothing. Each pupil created a design, drawing inspiration from a variety of Egyptian images and then block printed it onto a plain white t-shirt.
Next it was a trip down the corridor to 'discover' the tomb of Tutankhamun! Confronted by the double doors of the tomb painted with Egyptian figures and hieroglyphics, it was down to archaeologist Howard Carter (played by Molly Morris), to break the seal and lead the way into the darkened tomb lit only by flickering candle light. The atmospheric setting of the tomb was ideal for pupils to learn about the pharaoh Tutankhamun and the supposed curse that fell on the archaeologists who disturbed his resting place.
Back in the history classroom the group explored hieroglyphs, learnt to intrepret the symbols, wrote their names in hieroglyphics and composed suitable curses based on those found on Egyptian tombs from different dynasties.
Tuesday started with finding out about the Pyramids including why and how these impressive structures were built before moving onto practical challenges of building a pyramid in outline form with straws and in solid form with a card net. Pupils quickly realised how important mathematics had been in the design and construction of the Pyramids and were eager to find out about the Ancient Egyptian number system. The soon found that addition was very easy in Egyptian but multiplication and fractions were complicated. The writing and maths made the students appreciate the need for paper and they experimented with making recycled paper in a similar way to the Egyptians would have made papyrus sheets from the papyrus reeds that grew by the Nile. Pupils' drama skills were put to the test later in the day when they made a film of the story of Moses and the Plagues of Egypt.
Mummification was the topic for Wednesday morning and the group learnt about the practices and rituals involved including extracting the soft organs and brain and wrapping in layers of linen. Then it was time to have a go at working in small groups, mummifying each other, with some very impressive results. Egyptian strategy games were the focus for the second session of the day and pupils enjoyed sitting out in the sunshine having a tournament of Senet, an Egyptian board game.
On Thursday 25th June the group travelled to London by train to visit the Egyptian Galleries in the British Museum. They gazed in wonder at the fabulous colonaded facade and geodesic glass roof. Inside the museum the pupils were enthralled by the mummies, sarcophagi, enormous stone figures and elaborate hieroglyphs on stone, pottery, metal and scrolls. After enjoying lunch in the museum garden there was chance to see other key highlights including the Rosetta Stone and the Royal Game of Ur. The long day finished with some relaxation time in a London park before the journey home.
The final day of the project began with exploring everyday life for ordinary people in Ancient Egypt and in particular their food, clothing, houses and work. As bread was such an important part of the Egyptian diet the pupils all participated in a practical session of making Egyptian style bread. The loaves they made were impressive and were eaten alongside other typical Egyptian foods such as figs, dates and watermelon as part of a 'banquet' shared by staff and students. This was a lovely way to conclude the 'Secrets of the Sands' project.
A gallery of photographs from the day is available below. Please click on an image to enlarge it.
Mr L Mackin and Mrs C Tilt