Friday, July 29, 2016

Making "Papyrus" Paper From Corn Husks

 I really wish I could show you how to make papyrus paper out of actual papyrus. 
But creating paper from plant fibers (and hey, that's papyrus!) is easy and fun to do, and I can show you that!  We used corn husks.

I share this activity in our Ancient Egypt Activity Kit, (available in our store) but here are the basic instructions for you to follow:

After eating corn one night for dinner, I took the husks from one ear and cut them into one and a half inch slices, end to end.  Then, I let them dry in the sun for a few hours.  They looked like they do in the photo above, curly and very dry.

We put these curly dried pieces into water to flatten them out and help them be flexible.

Next, we got out a clipboard and pinned five husk strips under the clip.  And we began weaving another husk strip in and out, through the original five strips.

We continued to weave husks through, alternating ins and outs.  We pushed them over and far as we could.

Next, we flattened it out as best we could with our hands and used duct tape to hold down all the edges to the clipboard (as it dried).

Several hours later, it was all dry.  Carefully, we removed the duct tape and applied a layer of ModPodge to give it a nice uniform surface for writing.  We let that dry too, and then our "Papyrus paper" was ready to be written on.

We pulled out our Heiroglyph Translation page, and some acrylic paints and we went to town.

Although this activity isn't very similar to the actual making of papyrus (which has more to do with pounding and mashing the papyrus fibers and then pressing them into flattened pieces of paper), it will give your kids an opportunity to write on a paper made from plant fibers.  Which is still pretty cool.

If you'd like real Papyrus, (even made in Egypt!) head over to  You can purchase packets of papyrus papers for very inexpensive.  And wouldn't it be fun to compare the "paper" made from corn husks with real papyrus?

Our Ancient Egypt Activity Kit is available in our store.  If you and your child decide to make your own papyrus, we would love to see pictures in the comments!

#1: Staging an Archeological Dig

#2:  An Inside Archeological Dig

#3  Foraging with Story of the World

#4  Operating an Egyptian Shaduf

#5  Egypt's Ancient Gods Activity

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Let's Do Hieroglyphs

This week in our unit on Ancient Egypt, we learned about Cuneiform and Papyrus.

An informational page from our Ancient Egypt Activity Kit

We began with Cuneiform, which is basically writing on clay tablets, practiced by both the people of Sumer and the Ancient Egyptians.  We decided to practice creating cunieform, using playdough. 

I flattened a piece of playdough to about 1/2 inch and then cut it into a rectangle form.  

 A plastic knife worked well for imprinting in the clay.  

We used our Hieroglyph Sheet from our Ancient Egypt Activity Kit to attempt to write hieroglyphs in the clay.  It was a little tricky to get the details. 

My son was unsure at first about his ability to draw the complicated "letters"of the Egyptian alphabet, but he agreed to attempt to write his name and found he could do it, after all.

He was proud of the results!  

If drawing the individual letters still seems a bit intimidating, we also offer stencils of the Egyptian characters in our Ancient Egypt Activity Kit, that look like this:

Our Ancient Egypt Activity Kit is available in our store. 

If you enjoyed this post, you might also appreciate some of our other blog posts covering Ancient Egypt activities:

 Operating an Egyptian Shaduf

 Egypt's Ancient Gods Activity

  Eat Like an Egyptian

What's your favorite activity to help make Egypt come alive?

Friday, July 22, 2016

Eat Like an Egyptian

We don't have a whole lot of recipes from Ancient Egypt.

There's one that was actually written down on a tablet, that we do have a record of (and we'll share that one here).  But what we do know, are the crops the Ancient Egyptians grew, and with this knowledge in hand, we can recreate a pretty fun Egyptian Feast.

Dried figs and melon
What crops do we know for sure?   

The Egyptians grew wheat, barley, cucumbers, leeks, garlic, figs, melons, pomegranates and watermelon.  We know the Middle East also offers quantities of dates, olives and honey. Add to this the fish they caught from the Nile, and the dairy they probably enjoyed from their livestock, and you have quite a bit to choose from to create your own feast.   

Broiled fish, olives, cucumbers and beans (we used garbanzo)

We also know some of the herbs that Egyptians would have had access to, so to season our fish, I smoothed olive oil on the surface and then sprinkled it with dill and garlic.  Mmmmmm.  

Hibiscus Tea and broiled fish with olive oil, dill and garlic

In my research for our Egyptian feast, I found the fascinating information that the Pharaohs loved to drink hibiscus tea.  I had never tried hibiscus tea so this was a new one for me, and I have to give the pharaohs credit for their tastes:  Hibiscus tea is delicious!  To be historically accurate, sweeten it with honey.  

We also attempted a flatbread out of whole wheat flour (the Egyptians used Kamut Wheat), that was pretty tasty.  

But what about that recipe I mentioned earlier that was actually written down on a clay tablet sometime back in Ancient Egyptian time periods?  Here it is:

For a sweet treat from ancient times, I thought these were pretty dang yummy.  You can find this recipe in several places on the internet, and most give "nuts" as an ingredient.  But I read that the original recipe actually used something called "Tiger nuts", hence the name of the recipe.  I'd never heard of tiger nuts, but apparently they are a small tuber that grows underground and are quite healthy for you.  I searched a bit more and found that, lo and behold, you can buy these little gems off Amazon!

Yep, there they are.  The taste of the tiger nut is reminiscent of a pecan, though slightly sweeter.  But as far as texture goes, they are much tougher.  You really need to use your grinders.  

Now you can use pecans in place of the tiger nuts, and if I make them again, that's what I'd do.  We also made them using walnuts, but walnuts have a bitter tinge that change the taste of the final sweet.  Use tiger nuts or pecans, don't use walnuts, that's my best advice.  

I blended our tiger nuts in the blender and added the dates.  (I think the tiger nuts actually damaged my blender, so if you wish to use tiger nuts in your recipe, I recommend letting them soak in water for 24 hours, prior to blending.) 

I cannot imagine trying to chop those tiger nuts by hand.  Those ancient Egyptians were an impressive crew. 

Here's the basic recipe:

                             Tiger Nut Sweets

3/4 c. dates (chopped)
1/3 c. tiger nuts or pecans (chopped)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp water

Roll into balls (we made 6)
Roll in honey first
Then roll in ground almonds


We made a Recipe page in our Egyptian Activity Kit which includes a Hieroglyph translation page, and the translation reveals this very recipe. 

Don't worry, the Heiroglyph Translation Sheet AND the Answer Key are both included in our Ancient Egypt Activity Kit in our store.

 If you end up doing an Egyptian feast of your own, we would LOVE it if you shared photos of your completed meal.  

If you enjoyed this activity, don't forget to check out our other posts about suggested supplemental activities for Story of the World, Volume 1 here:

Don't forget to check out our other "Story of the World" posts, here:

#1: Staging an Archeological Dig

#2:  An Inside Archeological Dig

 #3  Foraging with Story of the World

#4  Operating an Egyptian Shaduf

#5  Egypt's Ancient Gods Activity

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Egypt's Ancient Gods Activity

Our history curriculum (Story of the World, Volume 1) introduces Ancient Egypt's rather complicated mythology in Chapter 2, with the age old story of how Set kills Osiris.  I didn't wish to delve too deeply into Egypt's ancient religion, but knowing something is necessary because Egypt's religion dominated so much of their lives.

Just flipping through our "Lives of Ancient Egypt" coloring book, you can see that so many facets of their everyday lives were interwoven with their religion.

So, how to introduce Egypt's pantheon of gods and their relationships without making it too tricky?

Well, I decided to create this simplified Family Tree of the gods.  Obviously, there are many more gods than I have depicted here, but these are the more known ones.

My son cut out the rectangles on the right and I led him through the family tree, explaining tidbits about each god as we went.  We began with Amon-Ra and worked our way down from there.

This activity is included in our Ancient Egypt Activity Kit, NOW available at our store. 

In the meantime, if you enjoyed this post, don't forget to check out our other "Story of the World" posts, here:

#1: Staging an Archeological Dig

#2:  An Inside Archeological Dig

 #3  Foraging with Story of the World

#4  Operating an Egyptian Shaduf

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Operating an Egyptian Shaduf

We have been reading through Story of the World, Volume 1, and we were halfway through Chapter 1
when we encountered information about the Egyptian Shaduf.

 I hadn't heard of this early agricultural machine before, and the picture in the book (though helpful) wasn't quite enough to illustrate the importance of what this machine meant to the early world.

The most helpful illustration and explanation was the picture my son is coloring here in the photo.

This is an incredibly detailed drawing that you will find in "Life in Ancient Egypt", a coloring book by Dover Publications.

We decided we would build a shaduf.  This is nothing new, you can do an online search and find many amazing miniature shadufs out there.  Here's an example of some:
Posted by

Basically, a shaduf is an early farming machine used for applying leverage in order to get water up from a river or well.

The kids who designed these shadufs in the picture at right obviously spent some time attempting authenticity and they have done a superb job.

But of all the shadufs I saw online, this Lego shaduf at left is my favorite.

This little blonde Egyptian is obviously very involved with her household chores and I love her style.  Not everyone would carry water in a sparkly blue evening dress. 

Thus inspired, we decided to build our shaduf out of Legos, too (since we are big on Legos).

We made our basket out of an egg carton cell.

But however your kids use to make their shaduf, here's a way to enhance the whole experience:  

Let them operate it to grow crops!

 Here's what I mean:

The shaduf is on a higher level than the water (We used a stack of books to create height under the tablecloth).  The egg carton lid serves as an irrigation canal.  The plate has something on it.  We called them our crops' seeds.  What are they, really?  Well, let's see:

Those "seeds" are little paper flowers that have been cut and folded up.  When the water reaches them, they naturally just open up and appear to "blossom" before your eyes.  So it helps to hit home what the whole point of the shaduf really was.

If you enjoyed this activity for Ancient Egypt, check out some of our other fun posts (listed below), and don't forget to sign up for our Giveaway (at the end of this week!) so that you can own the same book my boy is coloring in above.

We shared  other exciting Egypt activities in our blog, like:

 The Food Egyptians Ate,  the varied and fascinating Ancient Egyptian Gods
 the Egyptian Writing System (Hieroglyphs)How to Make Papyrus, and even

about Egyptian Clothing Styles.

For setting your history stage, you might also check out

#1: Staging an Archeological Dig 

#2:  An Inside Archeological Dig

For the above activities, you can purchase and download our  Archaeology Kit available in our store:


Friday, July 8, 2016

Foraging with "Story of the World"

Now I admit, when I suggested moving on to Chapter 1 in Story of the World, my son's first reaction was, "But, I wanna keep doing Archeology!" 

This sort of reaction means we are definitely winning with our approach to introducing history, so I  told him, "We have a lot more activities you're going to ALSO love, but we have to start Chapter 1 to get there."  That won him over.

The first half of Chapter 1 of Story of the World, Volume 1 introduces "The First Nomads".  It talks about how early peoples were hunters and gatherers, moving with their game, and living in tents, rather than being in settled cities.  It also introduces the Fertile Crescent as the early locale for this kind of life.

My son is already expectant that reading SOTW is often more like a dialogue between us, where I ask him questions that I read from the book and he shares his thoughts, too.

So, as we were reading through this section, it was a good time to head over to Google Maps on my phone and show him where the Fertile Crescent is.

When you're showing children maps, it's always best to begin with a reference they are familiar with, so in our case, we began with our city in Colorado, and then backed out of Google Maps enough to see other countries, and then traveled across (oh, the beauty of the internet!) to Egypt and Syria in order to locate the area we were chatting about.
One of these days, we'll pick up a globe but for right now, this was perfect.

SOTW explains that a child of the Early Nomads would likely have had an important job in the family: foraging.  This really tickled my son's fancy.  And so our next activity was born.

Foraging has actually become a popular pastime (and a very practical one) and so there are a lot of websites out there to help you begin.
 Here's one:
And another:
And this website connects you with folks who offer their excess harvest for free, worldwide, so that no food is wasted:

To begin with, we found a handy bag to serve as "Game Bag", like Tarak and her brother take with them in Chapter 1.

Here he is, all ready to begin his exciting Foraging Hunt.

We do not live in a very rural area.  We are in a suburb of Denver, but it is a somewhat agricultural one, and an older community with some established trees in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Before we went on our Foraging Journey, we found various things to be on the lookout for in our area.  Things such as Chicory and Dandelion leaves, Pineapple Weed, and Elm Samaras.  This was very educational, but to be perfectly honest, we found none of these on our Foraging Walk.  (Still, it will be helpful for the future, I'm sure.) 

At first, the things we found were not necessarily edible.  This clover flower, for instance, was lovely, but we are NOT recommending it as an edible. 

Then, we had a lovely find:  A large apple tree, with low hanging branches loaded with small green apples.  The tree bordered a school, on public land and the apples were small, but my two children considered them quite edible.

In the bag went a couple of the largest ones, and we made a mental note to come back in a month or two when they are larger.

Another tree bore some interesting fruit that looked something like apples.  We gathered some to put in our Bag, but we think these were a rather unpleasant crab apple and they did not turn out to be edible.

I tend to think this goes without saying, but I better say it anyway, because it is very important:

NEVER eat something you are uncertain of, when you forage.

We talked about how the early people might have run into this problem, having no internet and no way to track down what food is good to eat and what food might make you sick.

We also found some little helicopter like seeds.

These went in our bag, too, but only because they were fun, not because they were edible.

Then, the best surprise of our whole journey:  Wild Grapes!

With tiny little, edible grapes on them.  Still a little tart, but if you weren't too picky, they even tasted good!

When we got home, we spread our booty out on the table and I said, "Well, if our family lived back then, it sure is good to know that you would be such good provider for our family!"

If you enjoyed this activity, don't forget to check out our other posts about suggested supplemental activities for Story of the World, Volume 1 here:

#1: Staging an Archeological Dig

And here:
#2:  An Inside Archeological Dig