Friday, June 20, 2014

Ancient Egypt: Introducing the Unit

Ancient Egypt is one of my very favorite Social Studies units to teach.  Engagement is always really high, as the kids love hearing about the pyramids, gods and goddesses, and of course, mummies!  I am not sure why, but there is something about the gross and gooey steps of the mummification process that really appeals to my students.

We usually start the unit with some read alouds, to help development core background information.  Below are some of my favorites.

I usually get the librarian to bring a big stack of the Egypt books to my room before the unit begins, so I can have them available for the kids during silent reading.

Later, we spend time talking about Egyptian Geography.  It always amazes me how few kids can actually find Egypt on a map.  This is a great opportunity to talk about the concept of civilization, and how the Nile River helped Egypt to thrive.  I usually have the kids do a mapping activity at this time, to practice key geography skills.

This map is part of my Ancient Egypt Interactive Notebook Package.  It comes with a full page map as well.  In the past, I have struggled with doing a map of Egypt with my class, as the only maps I could find were either too simple or too detailed.  This map, however, has worked very well for me.  I usually blow the maps up, and have the kids make big ones.  They look awesome hanging on the big bulletin board outside my room, and I like to refer back to them throughout the unit.

As part of our introduction, we also spend some time on unit specific vocabulary.  Nothing is worse than starting a class discussion about something to do with the unit, and having the kids have no idea what you are talking about.  Going over key vocabulary at the start of the unit really helps prevent this.  The package I mentioned above comes with several pages of key vocabulary words, as well as a variety of activities to help reinforce them.  I have found in the past that vocabulary doesn't seem to really sink in with the kids unless they have a lot of opportunities to work with the words.  My favorite activity in the package is the cut and past word matching worksheets - I like seeing the kids snipping away with their scissors, and matching the words on their desks.  The engagement is high, and they seem to forget that they are actually practicing their vocabulary words!

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