By Dr. Mike Norris, Consulting Educator
For centuries children of all ages and cultures have been fascinated with ancient Egypt. Because of this, Egyptian art can be a valuable tool in helping children both learn about and create art, because studying it strengthens their observational powers as it inspires their own art making.
And, leaving aside mummies, nothing in Egyptian art interests children more than hieroglyphic writing (pronounced "highrowgliffick"). In this writing system, which the Egyptians called "the gods' words," scribes wrote "words," called hieroglyphs, which were actual pictures of the thing being meant by the word. So these Egyptian writers, called scribes, were artists as well as writers! But that wasn't all. These pictures could also stand for things connected with themselves; for instance, the picture for mouth could have the meaning of "speak;" the arm, the meaning of "give." And some of the pictures could even stand for sounds, like the letters of our alphabet do.
These Web links to Egyptian art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art show how the ancient Egyptians used hieroglyphic writing in their world:
A great way to introduce your child to ancient Egyptian art is to visit a museum, or a Web site of a museum, and then do this activity. If you are lucky enough to live near a museum, check to see if it has an Egyptian exhibit, and take your child to see it!
This activity will introduce children to how Egyptians used decoration to give extra meaning to a structure and will encourage them to explore this concept through their own creativity.
Check out obelisks around the world
Can you think of a tower in Washington D.C. that was inspired by Egypt? That would be the Washington Monument, which is the largest obelisk in the world (pronounced "ahbehlisk"). An obelisk's four sides had the carved names and titles of the pharaoh who had erected it and sometimes pictures were cut near the top. Of the Egyptian obelisks around today, the tallest is about 100 feet, about the lengths of two and a half regular city buses. There are many Web sites on obelisks, but one that includes pictures of several existing obelisks is A World of Obelisks.
Make your own life-size obelisk
To decorate your own obelisk, try the following activity. (You can do a simpler version if you want, by just using a sheet of drawing paper cut into the shape of an obelisk.) Take a roll of paper, unroll it to the desired length (the smallest Egyptian obelisks were probably 5 to 6 feet in height), fold over the paper to make a crease at the top, then cut along the crease to detach the sheet. Fairly near the top of this sheet make diagonal cuts at either side that meet in the middle of the top edge of the paper; this will give the top of your "obelisk" a triangular form that will represent the pyramid shape of the top of an actual obelisk. Tape the sheet onto a hard surface with masking tape. (You may want to cut four lengths of paper to make up the four sides of the obelisk to be decorated.)
Decorating your obelisk
Find pictures or Web sites that show Egyptian obelisks and look closely at their decoration. You might want to pretend to be a pharaoh and to decorate the obelisk with pictures of great deeds you have done, with the various names of you as a ruler, and stories of adventure during your reign. The names and stories can be in English, but perhaps written or arranged in such a way that it looks like Egyptian writing. The design of the decoration should first be created using a pencil. Then follow with colored pencils, crayons, chalk and even paint for color.
After finishing, decide where this obelisk should stand!
Sign up for our newsletter and we'll send you more
insights to help you help your child succeed.
Thank you! You will begin to receive newsletters from us shortly.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to complete your registration.
Great work! Only one more step. Now we just need you to verify your email address. Please click on the link in the email we just sent you to submit your review.
Please click on the link in the verification email we just sent you to complete your change of email address.
Whoops! It looks like we still need to verify your email. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the e-mail? Click the button below and we'll send you a new one.
Thanks for registering. Welcome to GreatSchools, the largest online community committed to improving educational outcomes through parental involvement.
Thanks for verifying your updated email address.
Oops! You haven't verified your email address yet. To do so, please click on the link in the email we sent you. Can't find the email? Click the button below to receive a new one.
Oops! That email verification link has expired. Please click the button below to receive a new one.
Create an account to submit your answers.
Sign in with an existing GreatSchools account or using Facebook:
Your review has been posted to GreatSchools.
Share with friends! Post your opinion of on Facebook.
Welcome to GreatSchools!
For principals and school officials, we offer a special Enhanced School Profile (ESP) which allows you to update and add information about your school, as well as respond to reviews. If you are a school official, click Continue to start.
Please note that it can take up to 48 hours for your comment to be posted to our site. While you're here, we'd like to invite you to fill out a survey on your school's programs, activities, and extracurriculars. It only takes a few minutes and will help parents get a full picture of your school.
Get started now! You have successfully registered and can now start updating your Official School Profile. The information you provide is extremely valuable in helping parents and students learn more about your school, so thanks for taking the time!
Thank you for registering as a school leader. We just need to verify your email address. We've sent you an email - please click on the link in that message to get started editing your school's information!
Thanks! We just sent you an email – please click on the link in the email to post your answers.
Get timely updates for , including performance data and recently posted user reviews.