Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Montessori Inspired Egyptian Studies

When I wrote this post about our Montessori-inspired African-themed playroom back in January, I promised to do regular posts about all of the different themed units we'd explore throughout the year.

Now, I'm sitting here A) Trying to figure out how it’s September already and B) Determined to catch up on all of the posts I’ve planned but not actually gotten around to this year.

So, I’m introducing Montessori Monday. Yep, each week I’m going to share a Montessori-inspired post and I’m starting with a little themed-activity we did at the end of last year. (If you look closely you'll see Halloween decorations in the background of one photo!)

I get so much inspiration from online – other blogs, especially, but also the wonderful, creative people I’ve come to know on Instagram.  My friend, Melanie, posted a photo of some Egyptian activities they were doing (their Homeschooling constantly inspires me) and I got really, really excited about the idea of making pyramids with my boys. This was my first attempt at a themed series of activities.

So, I present to you our Montessori-inspired Egyptian Studies...

I set up a little section in the playroom as our cultural studies area. We made an Egyptian flag, located Egypt on our mini-globe and collected a range of related, interesting items. 
These included: the photograph Liam’s Godparents took of Abu Simbel, some painted parchments Uncle Nick bought for us on his visit, some pictures we found online, Egyptian-themed alphabet cards and a few African animals.

I also printed a hieroglyphic alphabet and set up a sand tray for the boys to trace the shapes of the hieroglyphics in. The pyramids are from Uncle Nick too. 
For Liam (who was 7) I wrote a letter in hieroglyphics for him to translate. He wrote me a reply too. It was really good fun.

We visited the library and borrowed a few books about the country, the pyramids and mummies. Discussion of mummification can be a little overwhelming for little ones.  I kept the talk basic but factual and simply explained that different cultures have different ways of saying goodbye to those who have died and preparing them for the afterlife. 

The library books helped us to colour in Tutankhamun too.
 We talked about squared-based pyramids and had fun making some – both out of paper...

and with our Crazy Forts...

The finally activity in our studies was to plan and prepare for an International Food Night. We researched traditional Egyptian recipes and then made Bamya – an Egyptian Meat and Okra Stew, Ful – a national dish of broad beans that can be cooked in a tomato or garlic sauce, Koushari – which is an interesting mix of lentils, macaroni, rice, and chickpeas. 
This was followed up with some foods that would have traditionally been served after a meal – grapes, dates and almonds.

Had I wanted to arrange all of these activities in Montessori categories it would have been like this: 

Pyramid construction using paper templates

Pyramid construction with Crazy Forts

Stories & Guidebooks about Egypt
Alphabet cards with related terminology
Hieroglyphic alphabet and letter decoding

Objects from Egypt
Food research
African animals
Recipes & International Food Night
Colouring In
African animals
Pyramid construction with Crazy Forts 
We finished the unit really hoping we'll all get to visit Egypt some day. Have you been?

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