There couldn’t be a more gratifying History topic to teach to kids about than the Egyptians and Egypt History, with the stunning visual aids you can find and the mythological gods and goddesses with special powers to tell them about… But with all of this wonderful and wacky content to get through, where do you begin?
If you are home tutoring, helping with primary or secondary homework assignments or simply want to teach your children a bit about the world and the times that have passed, then take a look at this guide to teaching youngsters about Egyptian History.
Kids might be surprised to hear that the ancient Egyptians worshipped numerous gods and goddesses, rather than believing in one almighty leader. Similarly, there was not just one king, multiple Pharaoh’s were thought to be the ‘kings of all the land’. They may also find it fun to learn about the Great Pyramid and the ancient artefacts found in Egypt.
To start with, however, let’s take a look at the History of Egypt.
Ancient Egypt depended largely on the Nile river, which flows through the desert and offers ground that can be cultivated to support life on its banks. Some of the most famous landmarks of Egypt are the Great Pyramids of Giza, the ruins of Luxor and the tombs of pharaohs in the Valley of Kings.
Most of Egypt is desert so the Nile played and continues to play a big part in the countries History and trade. Photo credit: Retlaw Snellac Photography on Visualhunt.com / CC BY
What’s truly fascinating is just how much we know about a civilization from thousands of years ago. The earliest ancient Egyptian period not only started 5,000 years ago, the civilizations lasted for more than 3,000 years too.
The reason we know so much about this era is that the Egyptians were the first to develop a way of recording data using marks – in this instance, called hieroglyphs. They were the first people to see some value in writing down what was happening using inscription methods, which shows that they were also forward-thinking. This is proven in the way that Egyptians believed there was a life after death.
Egyptians would, therefore, preserve and bury dead bodies in tombs (mummified, as it were) along with objects that they might need in their new life. We were able to gain an understanding of this belief thanks to the wall paintings found in the vicinity of various tombs.
Egypt was ruled by numerous gods and goddesses, many of whom built temples whose walls became evidence of the important events of their reigns thanks to carvings and paintings. Without these sources, we wouldn’t know or understand the ancient civilizations or how it developed over time.
Below is a chronology of important periods and empire ownership throughout Egyptian History.
The Early Dynastic period – c. 3100 to c.2680 B.C.
The first king we really know about from these ancient times is King Narmer, who ruled the two kingdoms of Upper and Lower Egypt. As he is the first recorded leader, he and his successors are known as the First Dynasty (i.e. a family that holds power). It was from around this time that the pharaohs were shown in paintings wearing a double crown, with the white crown representing Lower Egypt and the red representing Upper Egypt.
Old Kingdom – from c. 2680 to c. 2180 (3rd to 6th dynasties)
It was during this momentous period that the biggest landmark of Egypt was built: the Pyramids. The Pyramids include the huge pyramid of Giza which is the oldest monument of the ‘Seven Wonders of the Ancient World’.
First Intermediate period – from c.2180 to c. 2055 (7th to 11th dynasties)
At this time, several different kings ruled the different parts of Egypt. Mentuhotep II, a king of the 11th dynasty, regained control over the whole of Egypt towards the end of this period.
Middle Kingdom – 2055 to 1650 B.C. (12th – 14 dynasties)
This was referred to as a ‘golden age’; the country was ruled by numerous strong kings who controlled Egypt as a whole along with much of Nubia (the modern Sudan). A large fertile area around a lake which is fed from the Nile valley, called Faiyum, was developed as a centre of crops and agriculture. The Egyptians started building the great Temple at Karnak within this period.
Second Intermediate Period – c. 1650 to 1550 15th & 16th dynasties
It was around this time that the Hyksos, a tribe from outside Egypt with no known origin, conquered much of Lower Egypt.
New Kingdom – c. 1550 to 1069 B.C. (17th to 20th dynasties)
The Hyksos were driven out during this period and the pharaoh regained power over Lower and Upper Egypt. This was a time when Egypt developed a very powerful civil service of royal officials.
Late Period – c. 1000 to 32 AD (21st to 30th dynasties)
Right around now, Egypt was once again divided into two kingdoms. From around 700 B.C., Egypt was invaded quite frequently by the Nubians, the Assyrians, the Persians, the Greeks under Alexander the Great’s general Ptolemy and finally by the Romans.
As we’ve discovered, one of the most remarkable things about Ancient Egyptians was their belief in numerous gods and goddesses. They worshipped so many of them that it would be hard to list them all! Plus, each one has their own symbol or spiritual meaning so it is hard to truly get to know each and every one of them.
Some of them resembled humans, however, others were part-human and part-animal, with some having crocodile heads, jackal heads, cat heads, rams heads and even falcon heads.
Some Egyptian gods and goddesses resembled humans whereas others were part-human, part-animal. Photo credit: Internet Archive Book Images on Visualhunt / No known copyright restrictions
The bodies of these ancient gods were always human, and it was only their heads looked like birds and animals. The belief in so many leaders is quite a fascinating one because most religions believe in just one spiritual leader.
While there were so many of them, some gods and goddesses remain better known than others, whether that be because of their astonishing appearance or because of their symbolic meaning. Here are just some of them for you to take a look at. Don’t forget to look up what they looked like whilst you go down the list!
• Osiris was one of the most important ancient gods. He allegedly ruled the underworld and was the judge of the dead, so he was was all about evil and darkness – something that ids just love to hear about!
• The ancient Egyptian goddess Isis, the mother goddess, was the wife of Osiris. When her husband was killed by his own brother, their son Horus was one of the heroes of the ancient Egyptian gods who helped to bring him back to life from the dead. We wouldn’t want to be Osiris’ brother when he was revived!
• Anubis, the jackal-headed god, was yet another famous figure in Ancient Egyptian History. He was the god of the dead, tombs and embalming, another being who must have had a bit of a dark side!
• Heka was the god of Magic and Medicine, son of Khnum, the ram-headed creator god of fertility.
Of course, there are many many more to discover if you have the time and patience!
Ancient Egypt is one of the primary history topics that children most want to learn about and it’s easy to see why. Is it any wonder when they can learn about all of the fascinating things to come from the civilizations like the pyramids, mummies and pharaohs?! Here are some educational books designed for young learners – great sources about Egypt for kids.
The Scarab’s Secret by Christina Balit
An awesome, beautifully-illustrated picture book that offers huge appeal to children both young and old (as well as the adults reading it with them!), this book tells the story of Khepri who is a scarab beetle (the scarab was a very strong symbol in Ancient Egypt) who finds a trap designed to kill the Pharoah. Follow the story to see if the humble beetle can warn the Pharoah and save him?
There’s A Pharoah In Our Bath! by Jeremy Strong
This hilarious tale by Jeremy Strong tale is a fantastic read. Tony, the main character, is a boy who usually brings home sick or injured animals, but then one day he brings home a man covered in bandages, a pharoah!
The Time Travelling Cat And The Egyptian Goddess by Julia Jarman
Topher misses his late mother mum, so his dad takes in a stray cat in an attempt to cheer him up. The cat in question bears a striking resemblance to an Ancient Egyptian cat ornament his mum gave him before her death…
My Story: Cleopatra by Kristiana Gregory
Cleopatra is probably one of the most famous icons to have come from Egypt. Photo credit: currystrumpet on VisualHunt
Cleopatra was a princess of Egypt and a famous Egyptian figure even in today’s world. In this book, you can find out more about her childhood by the Nile, interesting family (including her ruler sisters) and her ambitions in this first-person “diary” account of her life.
If this has got you and your children wanting to know even more Ancient Egyptian history, then just you wait for all of the school and homework tasks that you will encounter!
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