Lesson 5: Egyptian Religion and Myths

Day 2

Activity 3: Egyptian Myths

Materials: colored pencils*, note cards*, scissors*, stapler*, white paper*
All cultures tell stories to explain their origins and the world around them. In this activity, you'll read some ancient Egyptian myths. Look over the myths found at the following web links, and read at least two of them. (You can also search for other myths on the Internet, with a parent's assistance, or use library books or other resources to locate myths.) Then, choose one myth to focus on in more detail, and use the "Egyptian Myths" page to record ideas for the activity. Ask a parent which option you should complete.
Web Link
Web Link
Student Activity Page
In this activity, your child will focus on one Egyptian myth after reading two or more from online sources provided or from library resources. (With parental assistance, he can also search online for other Egyptian myths to read.) Option 1 allows your child to take on the role of an Egyptian storyteller and tell his own version of one of the Egyptian myths. This option does not require writing or visual art but does require the student to memorize and customize the myth of his choice and to perform it as a storyteller for family members. Option 2 allows your child to create a picture book retelling of the myth, complete with illustrations. This option may appeal to students who enjoy writing and art or those who are not as fond of public speaking. Both options will use the same organizer to help your child pull together his ideas for the myth.

Option 1: Egyptian Storyteller

Most people in ancient Egypt could not read and write, so stories would have been handed down from generation to generation through the oral tradition. When stories are shared in this way, each storyteller has his or her own way of telling the story and may change or add details to shorten or lengthen the story or to appeal to a particular audience. While the story remains more or less the same, storytellers make it their own by the way they choose to tell it.
For this activity, you will choose one of the myths you read online. Think about how you want to present this myth. Would you like to describe any of the characters or the setting in greater detail? Do you want to involve your audience with questions like, "And what do you suppose happened next?" Will you tell your audience a moral of the story or leave them to figure out the story's meaning on their own? Find your own style as a storyteller.

Write down some of your ideas for telling the story — you may find it helpful to use the "Egyptian Myths" activity page as a space to organize your ideas. Think about the major events in the story, and use the boxes on the activity page to write out short descriptions and key words or to sketch images that will help you organize your own version of the myth.

Once you have the myth organized as you want to tell it, you should practice telling it several times so that you will feel comfortable doing so. As you practice telling your story, you may find it helpful to write out the key points of the story on individual note cards that you can use while practicing your storytelling (or to cut apart the boxes on the "Egyptian Myths" activity page and use those as note cards) so that you don't forget any important parts of the story. Practice the story until you feel comfortable telling it out loud, using your note cards as little as possible. Remember to use your voice to convey the emotions in the story and to use hand gestures or your body language to add emphasis. You may want to practice in front of a mirror.

When you are ready to tell your story, gather your family together, and share the story with them. Ask them what they thought about the story and if it reminds them of any other stories they have heard.
In this option, your child will retell an Egyptian myth, making the story his own while continuing to stay true to the broad outline of the myth. Your child should practice telling the story until he is comfortable doing so and then perform the story for family and, if he likes, friends. Be an enthusiastic and attentive audience for your child's storytelling.

Option 2: Egyptian Picture Book

Ancient Egyptian myths were often shared through storytelling, but some of these ancient stories were written down, allowing us to study and enjoy them today. In this activity, you'll make a picture book version of an Egyptian myth that you find interesting.

First you will choose the myth. Think about how you want to retell the story and divide the story into 5-6 different scenes that are important to the story's plot and that would be good scenes to illustrate in a children's book. Use the "Egyptian Myths" activity page to sketch out ideas for how those 5-6 pages might look and to jot down ideas for the text that you might use.

Using your sketches as a guide, create your book. It should include a cover illustration with your story's title. This cover page can be glued to a piece of construction paper to form the cover of your book. You should then create one page for each scene of your story. Write out the myth in your own words along the bottom of each page and illustrate each page to show what happens in the story. Add a back cover of construction paper and staple your book together.

Share your book with a parent later in the day.
In this option, your child will create a picture book version of an Egyptian myth. It should have a cover illustration with the story's title and then one page for each scene of the story. Each page should contain both text and illustrations. Encourage him to share this picture book with others.

Activity 4: Egyptian Afterlife

Materials: construction paper
The Egyptians had strongly held beliefs about the afterlife and prepared the bodies of their dead in special ways. In this activity, you'll explore the physical treatment of the deceased to prepare them for the afterlife.

Write "Preparing for the Afterlife" at the top of a piece of construction paper. Cut out the images and explanations on the "Egyptian Afterlife" activity page. Place the images in the correct order and glue them onto the page, using arrows between the boxes to create a flowchart showing how embalmers prepared the bodies of those who would be entombed for burial. The bottom two boxes are blank so you can write and/or draw additional steps of the process to add to the flowchart.

Use the information on p. 16 of Ancient Civilizations and at the following web link for details about embalming and mummification.
Web Link
Student Activity Page
In this activity, your child will explore how Egyptians prepared bodies for the afterlife. He will then create a flowchart showing what Egyptians did to embalm a body and prepare it for the Next World. Using the 2 blank boxes, your child could add more steps to the flowchart based on the information in the book and on the website provided. This answer key provides the steps for the boxes provided; the content of your child's steps and their placement in the flowchart will vary.

Answer Key:

  1. The body was washed with water from the Nile River.
  2. The internal organs were removed.
  3. The intestines, lungs, liver and stomach were embalmed and placed in canopic jars.
  4. The body was covered in natron salt for about 40 days.
  5. The body was wrapped in linen with jewels and charms.
  6. The mummy was placed in its coffin.