Archive for the 'ancient civilizations' Category

Ancient Greece

Ancient Greek civilization is an exciting and intriguing part of our history. The Ancient Greeks made many contributions to society from government and sports to architecture and literature. While students will never get to experience first hand the customs and cultures of Ancient Greece, books and activities can better help students to understand the way of life in Ancient Greece. The following books and resources can help deepen a student’s knowledge about Ancient Greece from the city-states to mythology. The books and resources are intended to be used in a 3rd grade classroom (SOL 3.1).

Text annotation:

Adventures in Ancient Greece by Linda Bailey


In Adventures in Ancient Greece, the Binkerton children are taken back in time to Ancient Greece during the Olympics. The reader journeys through the city-states of Ancient Greece with the Binkerton’s as they learn all about Ancient Greek customs, religions and culture. The story is full of facts and excitement as the reader follows the Binkerton’s and learn about Ancient Greece.

Ancient Greece by Anne Pearson


The illustrations in this book will grab everyone’s attention. The book also covers the history, people, customs, religion, recreation and warfare of the Ancient Greeks. The illustrations add to the facts listed in this book for a better visual understanding of the Ancient Greek way of life.

If I Were a Kid in Ancient Greece: Children of the Ancient World by Cobblestone Publishing


This book delves into the lifestyle of children in Ancient Greece from house rules to pets. The books investigates what tools, activities and customs children would have to follow if they lived in Ancient Greece.

The Ancient Greeks (People of the Ancient World) by Allison Lassieur


This book is organized differently from all other history books, instead of looking at the Ancient Greek civilization chronologically like most books, this book looks at Ancient Greece by sociological strata. The book starts at the top of Greek society with the people of the government and then delves all the way down to slaves and workers. This gives the students a good look into how life in Ancient Greece was for each level of society and how the cultures and customs worked.

Pandora of Athens; 399 B.C. by Barry Denenberg


In Pandora of Athens; 399 B.C., the reader is taken back to Ancient Greek society where they follow Pandora a young Greek girl as she fights the roles society and her father have laid out for her. The book while make-believe helps students see the reality of life in Ancient Greece. The story is very well written and will capture students’ attention from beginning to end.

Recommended Websites for Students:

The History for Kids website has tons of information for students about Ancient Greece. Students can learn about a wide range of subjects from clothing and literature to mythology and economy.

The Winged Sandals website is a great website for students. The website offers students “plays” to watch about Greek mythology, games to play, history pages, who’s who among the Grecians and instructions to make crafts.

Adventures in Ancient Greece website is an interactive website which offers students a chance to click around and learn more information and play games while learning about Ancient Greece. At the end the students are able to take three quizzes that test them on their knowledge they learned and opens new activities.

The BBC website offers students the chance to click through and learn more about Ancient Greece, from customs and gods to architecture and wars. The site also has quizzes under each subsection as well as a Greek Hero Game for the students to play.

The Odyssey Greece website is an interactive website in which students are taken back to Ancient Greece. The site lets students click through to learn more about Ancient Greece. Students can learn about chewing gum or constellations and even cities’ names in the U.S. whose origins date back to the Ancient Greek empire.

Additional Teacher Resources

Ancient History website has many links for teachers. The links all offer different kinds of resources from lesson plans and activities to PowerPoint and video clips for the classroom.

Ancient Greece This website is a great resource for teachers, it has a lot of in-depth information about art and architecture, history, wars, people and mythology. The website also includes a photo gallery to offer teachers even more information about Ancient Greece.

Scholastic’s Ancient Greece website offers numerous ideas for teachers on how to teach Ancient Greece to students. The website gives lots of ideas for creative craft ideas to keep students interested while learning about the ancient civilization.

BBC teacher’s website about Ancient Greece goes along with the student resource version. The teacher website has complied lesson plans, tours, time-lines, games, craft ideas and FAQ’s about Ancient Greece to help students further explore the ancient civilization.

Ancient Egypt

This post discusses resources for the second grade Virginia SOL 2.1. In this unit, students learn about the contributions that ancient Egypt has made to the modern world. Specifically, students study how Egypt helped to develop, and influenced, writing, architecture and a few inventions like paper, the 365 day calendar, and the clock. The following books, websites and extra resources are designed to fit this second grade curriculum, but are varied in difficulty so that they can be differentiated for many different levels of students.



I Wonder Why the Pyramids Were Built: And Other Questions About Ancient Egypt

By Miranda Smith

I Wonder Why the Pyramids Were Built: And Other Questions About Ancient Egypt is a useful resources as an introduction to ancient Egypt as it gives a general overview about the lives and practices of ancient Egyptians. It provides child friendly explanations about tricky subjects like embalmment and mummification while still being an overall funny and entertaining book because of the many “ancient Egypt” jokes. Enjoyable illustrations accompany the text so that students can see what typical Egyptians looked like, and how the landscape and architecture of the time appeared.






The Egyptian Cinderella

By Shirley Climo and illustrated by Ruth Heller

The Egyptian Cinderella tells the familiar Cinderella story with an ancient Egyptian twist. In this version, the Greek slave girl, Rhodopis, is saved from her plight by marrying the Pharaoh, with a little help from the Egyptian god Horus. Students will enjoy this story because they can relate it to what they already know about Cinderella and can compare the similarities and differences between the traditional fairy tale and this Egyptian version. While still being entertaining, this Cinderella story manages to inform students about every day Egyptian life, from the existence and roles of slaves and pharaohs to Egyptian mythology and religion.





Egyptian Life

By Miriam Stead

This book is an excellent classroom resource because it provides examples and descriptions of ancient Egyptian life based upon artifacts currently found in the British Museum. Therefore, this book is different from most books on ancient Egypt because it shows real photographs of real Egyptian objects. Egyptian Life discusses many aspects of the everyday ancient Egyptian experience such as food, family, society, clothing and religion. In this way, this book is a good starting point for students’ comparisons of their modern lives to the lives of ancient Egyptians.







Hieroglyphs from A to Z

By Peter Manuelian

Hieroglyphs from A to Z is similar to the traditional alphabet books, where each letter is given a page and a sentence using a word that begins with that letter, yet it is different in that the letters are also represented in Egyptian hieroglyphs and the sentences are about Egyptian topics. This book serves as a good introduction to the study of hieroglyphics because it provides a comparison between the letters that students are used to, and their ancient Egyptian counterparts. This book presents the ancient Egyptian writing system in an easy to understand format, and also shares a few facts about Egyptian life and mythology.





Ancient Egypt

By George Hart

Ancient Egypt, from the Eyewitness book series, is a virtual encyclopedia of Egyptian knowledge geared towards elementary aged students. This book combines illustrations, photographs and diagrams to explain tricky and interesting subjects like, what the inside of a pyramid looks like, why the ancient Egyptians dressed the way they do, and how the ancient Egyptians made paper. This book may use some vocabulary that is beyond the second grade level, so it may need to be used as a teacher-guided resource or as a tool for differentiation but it provides an expanse of knowledge on practically any topic that you can think of when it comes to ancient Egypt.


Mr. Ancient Egypt

This site, geared at upper elementary school students, explains topics like the gift of the Nile, the land of the dead, the pharaoh, the Rosetta Stone and Cleopatra. It provides detailed maps and clear explanations of why each of these topics is so important to any study of ancient Egypt. The wording might be a little hard for some second graders to understand, and the site is mostly text-based, so this would be a great site for a teacher-led Webquest or class activity where the teacher could guide students’ reading.

Kids Konnect Ancient Egypt

This site would be a wonderful resource for any class studying ancient Egypt since it provides a wealth of information about everything and anything Egypt related. It provides links to information on hieroglyphics, gods, mummies, the Nile, pharaohs, pyramids, Egyptian literature, art, history and more. Teachers and students could use this site to find anything that they might want to know about ancient Egypt, but again, this site may be difficult for second graders to navigate, because it is so expansive, so if students use this resource it should be guided by the teacher.

The British Museum-Ancient Egypt

This website is published by the British Museum’s Egyptology Department but is intended for an elementary audience. It has information about Egyptian life, geography, gods and goddesses, mummification, pharaohs, pyramids, time, trades and writing. This site would be especially useful in light of the SOL because of its explanations about the development of the clock and writing. Each topic contains a story and an exploration link, for example, in the temple section students can “explore” the inside of a temple. This site is easy to navigate so students could traverse it by themselves.

A to Z Kids Stuff- Ancient Egypt

This website acts as an introduction to the history and contributions of ancient Egypt. It discusses the different Egyptian kingdoms and their time periods, as well as Egyptian inventions and some brief information about prominent pharaohs. At the bottom of the page are listed fun activities that students could do to help them learn about ancient Egypt. Since this site is only one page long it would be an easy way for students to learn about ancient Egypt on their own.

 Children’s University of Manchester- Ancient Egypt

This website is produced by the University of Manchester as a child’s guide to ancient Egypt. It provides interactive activities that students can do online, like, explore ancient Egypt, Giza pyramid panorama, the Egyptian number system, writing in hieroglyphics, make a mummy and more. These activities have easy to understand directions and are fun ways to explain topics about ancient Egypt.

Other Resources

Why did the Egyptians build the tombs and pyramids? Movie

This movie, presented by BBC Learning Zone Class Clips, shows footage of the pyramids in Egypt and explains why the ancient Egyptians first began to develop the pyramids. It explains the different types of pyramids, which pharaohs preferred which type of pyramid and how Egyptians used the natural resources available to them to design and create the pyramids.

Southlands Elementary Ancient Egypt WebQuest

This WebQuest, produced by Southlands Elementary School, takes students on an internet tour of ancient Egypt to learn about topics like daily life, the sphinx, the Egyptian calendar, hieroglyphics, the pharaohs, the pyramids, the Rosetta Stone and mummification. This WebQuest would be a great review of a unit on Ancient Egypt; it uses clear directions and simple links to keep students from being confused or overwhelmed. The other unique thing about this WebQuest is that it asks students to develop their higher-level thinking by asking questions like “write down some differences between poor and rich Egyptians”, rather than simply asking all explicit questions.





The Ancient Egypt Pack: A Three Dimensional Celebration of Egyptian Mythology, Culture, Art, Life and Afterlife

By Christos Kondeatis

This book combines pull out activities and pop-up diagrams to explain the mysteries of ancient Egypt. There are board games, pop-up pyramids, an ancient Egyptian mask and many more interactive and tactile activities to keep students entertained while they are learning. This pack would be a great way to introduce students to a unit on ancient Egypt, or for use as a center activity, or just as something for the class to read together. It provides a lot of information in a very fun package.



Pyramids: 50 Hands on Activities to Experience Ancient Egypt

By Avery Hart

This book provides educators with many different activities for students to learn about ancient Egypt. There are activities about making mummies, designing Egyptian clothes, discovering what the ancient Egyptians ate, playing Egyptian games like tug of war, and more. This book encourages students to “think like Egyptians”, so they should complete the activities using resources and materials that the ancient Egyptians would have had, which adds a unique twist to simple games and projects. These activities are not just for fun, however, they are very educational and include a lot of factual information that students must understand in order to complete the activities, which makes for an excellent resource for both students and teachers alike.

Teaching Children about Ancient China

In second grade, students study ancient civilizations. One of these civilizations is ancient China. Students learn about the architecture, inventions, and written language of China (SOL 2.1). The resources provided below will activate background knowledge, support instruction, and capture student interest.

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China
Retold by Ai-Ling Louie and Illustrated by Ed Young

Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China can serve as a cross-curricular connection. While students study ancient China in Social Studies, they can read Chinese literature in Language Arts. You can compare this original version of Cinderella with the modern-day version or interpretations from other cultures. Yeh-Shen tells the story of a beautiful and kind young girl who is forced to serve her stepmother. Yeh-Shen’s only friend is a goldfish. One day, Yeh-Shen’s stepmother cooks the fish for dinner. A distraught Yeh-Shen saves the fish’s bones, which contain an ancient spirit. On the night of the spring festival, the ancient spirit gives Yeh-Shen an intricate evening gown and a pair of gold slippers. The spirit states that she earned these gifts through her kindness to others. That night Yeh-Shen attends the festival and loses a golden slipper. The story concludes when the king returns Yeh-Shen’s slipper and marries her shortly afterward.

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China

Written by Joanna Cole and Illustrated by Bruce Degen

Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China uses the fictional story of Ms. Frizzle’s field trip in ancient China to teach students about ancient Chinese culture. The top two thirds of the page are dedicated to Ms. Frizzle’s story as she and her class travel back in time. As they travel through China, the students learn about Chinese writing as well as the art of silk making. Meanwhile, the students are also searching for a way to travel back home in time for a Chinese New Year celebration. Ms. Frizzle’s Adventures: Imperial China includes the written story as well as detailed illustrations and speech bubbles. This comic book style contrasts with the lower third of the page. In this section, the author describes ancient Chinese culture. She explains how to make Chinese silk, identifies Chinese inventions, illustrates the process for growing rice, and includes additional facts about Chinese culture. Ms. Frizzle’s field trip allows students to explore ancient China through a story that combines relevant facts with entertaining fiction.

D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet
Written by Carol Crane and Illustrated by Zong-Zhou Wang

D is for Dancing Dragon: A China Alphabet examines Chinese culture in alphabetical order. A four line rhyming poem is written for each letter. For example, the page dedicated to the letter G contains a poem about the Great Wall of China as well as a large illustration. In the margin the author includes additional facts about the Great Wall. The entire book follows this model. The poems outline the essential knowledge while the sidebars contain supplementary information. D is for Dancing Dragon allows you to differentiate based on reading level. Students who need more support can learn the essential knowledge through reading the poems and studying the illustrations. Meanwhile, students who need to be challenged can read the more difficult sidebars. This book provides a close look at twenty-six aspects of Chinese culture in a manner that is accessible and entertaining for all learners.

Ancient Civilizations: China
Written by Dolores Gassós and Illustrated by Estudi Toni Inglés

Ancient Civilizations: China is arranged like a student encyclopedia. Each chapter addresses a different aspect of Chinese culture. These topics range from ancient Chinese inventions to Chinese architecture. The chapters contain a brief description of the topic, multiple illustrations, informative captions, and vocabulary definitions. This book is an ideal resource for student research. Using Ancient Civilizations: China students will develop an understanding of their research topic, visualize essential features of that subject, as well as define vocabulary words related to their assignment.

You are in Ancient China
Written by Ivan Minnis

You are in Ancient China is a great tool to build students’ background knowledge about ancient China. The combination of detailed photographs and student-friendly text make this a valuable resource for students in the lower elementary grades. Through reading this book, students will explore the daily life and customs of the Han Dynasty. Notable sections in this book include descriptions of Chinese cities, the use of Chinese characters, ancient Chinese art, and science and technology from China. Since this book is divided into topics, students can elect to read the entire text or specific sections. This versatility lends the book to a variety of uses. For instance, students can read this book in order to gain broad knowledge about ancient China or read sections of this book in order to research a specific topic. You are in Ancient China allows students to visualize and comprehend the unique culture of ancient China.

Additional Student Resources:

  • The Great Wall of China: Learn more amazing facts about the Great Wall of China
  • Review Cards: Print these review cards to study the differences between ancient China and ancient Egypt
  • Tangram Puzzle: Can you complete the seven pieces of cleverness?
  • Fun Facts About China: Do you know who invented ice cream? To learn more fun facts about China, click here
  • Terra Cotta Army: Uncover the Terra Cotta Army and learn about their exciting history

Additional Teacher Resources:

  • Ancient Chinese Book: Teach students why the Chinese characters are written vertically by making ancient Chinese scrolls
  • Paper-Making Project for Kids: Experience the process of Chinese paper-making with this hands-on craft
  • Folktales from China: Connect Language Arts and Social Studies with these ancient Chinese folktales
  • Learning About Ancient China: Use this webquest with your students to teach about Chinese writing, the Great Wall of China, and the Chinese calendar

Teaching Ancient Greece


The Ancient Greeks were one of the two groups of people who made significant contribution to society in terms of architecture, government, and sports. The Ancient Greeks have influenced the lives of people today. Books that I chose start of with photographs of ancient buildings, artifacts to get students interested and excellent information for teaching about Ancient Greece. Then, I chose two books about Olympic Games. One book is fiction and one is non-fiction.  Children are granted with a thorough understanding of Greece’s background so as to see how the concept of the Olympic games originated within this magical culture of gods and goddesses. I also chose one book about Athenian democracy and one about Parthenon, one of the most recognizable buildings in the world.

All of these books would be most appropriate when teaching Ancient Greece to third grade students. (SOL 3.1)

Selection of Books:

“You are in Ancient Greece”

You are in Ancient Greece, written by Ivan Minnis, is filled with photographs of ancient buildings, artifacts and excellent information for teaching about Ancient Greece. There is no particular illustrator because all of the images are photographs. The book aims to put students in the civilizations hundreds and thousands of years ago by teaching them from the perspective of what their education, food gathering, entertainment and other aspects were like during those times. Each page has headings such as “A Greek City” and “Growing Up” which gives organization to the plentiful information. Important vocabulary works are in bold and there are portions of a page devoted to “finding out about”a topic. This visually separates the information from the student which may help recognize the information as interesting facts.

This website can be used by teachers to gain background knowledge or by children to see Ancient Greece in a more creative and understandable way.

“Adventures in Ancient Greece”

The book Adventures in Ancient Greece was written by Linda Bailey and illustrated by Bill Slavin. The story is about a set of twins and their younger sister who want to see the Olympic Games in the future. They stop by Jullian T. Pettigrew’s Travel Agency and inform him of their wishes and he hands them a book. Once they open the book, the three of them are transported back to Ancient Greece. Once there, they see all of the culture, arts, customs of Greece and of course the Olympic Games. They have a lot of adventures in ancient Greece while they read from this book to get the information about what they are witnessing.

This online activity tests the students’ knowledge on how well they know the sports the ancient Olympians competed in.

“Ancient Greece and the Olympics”

Ancient Greece and the Olympics, written by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce, illustrated by Sal Murdocca, is part of the infamous Magic Tree House Series that aims to realistically take children on a voyage through ancient history. This particular journey to Greece begins with an introduction to the country’s history and its people, then moves to the country’s religion, its daily life and its culture. All of these integral elements serve as the foundation for the major focus of this book. Children are granted with a thorough understanding of Greece’s background so as to see how the concept of the Olympic games originated within this magical culture of gods and goddesses.

This kid friendly website offers simple summaries, interactive activities, fun facts, and quizzes for children all about Ancient Greece.

With this website, children can learn about the Ancient Greek influence on the English language as they “Go for the Gold” in the Olympic Games.

This site presents teachers with a mini-unit on the Olympics in the Ancient Greece. Each day is planned out as students meet the Olympians, prepare for various Olympic games, experience the traditional “Opening and Closing Procession” and so much more.

“Cleisthenes: Founder of Athenian Democracy”

Cleisthenes: Founder of Athenian Democracy, written by Sarah Parton, illustrated by Athenian professor is about the development of a democratic form of government in Ancient Athens that was arguably one of the most important occurrences in the history of mankind. Cleisthenes is often attributed the tag of “the founder of Athenian democracy”.  This book highlights that Cleisthenes reformed the Athenian political system so that the state was no longer ruled by a small group of wealthy landowners and aristocrats, and so that ordinary citizens enjoyed more rights and could participate in making important decisions.

This website has great notes for teachers about Athenian democracy. Vocabulary is highlighted which would make it easier for teachers to see what new vocabulary words students need to learn. Also, if the teacher is not familiar with the Athenian democracy this would be a great website to get the background knowledge.


The Parthenon written by Lynn Curlee and illustrated by Lynn Curlee explores the tremendous history behind one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. The Parthenon was ravaged by the early Christians, occupied by the Turks, and looted by the British. Wars were fought all around it. Plato and Socrates, Phidias and Pericles contemplated philosophy, art, drama, and democracy on its steps. Today its proud, ruined columns stand high above the city of Athens, Greece, the last sentinels of what’s often considered to be the most important architectural achievement in the world. The Parthenon is without rival in regard to its beauty, purity of design, and tumultuous history.

This website has great ideas about doing big projects with students. After studying about the Parthenon, students can make their own Parthenon. It could be an individual project or it could be a group project.

This website would benefit both teachers and students because it has a lot of information about Ancient Greece. All of the information is categorized and it gives both teachers and students a chance to get the background knowledge, explore what they have learned and it also gives them a challenge which is an activity where they have to apply what you have learned.

Teaching Ancient Egypt Through Literature: You Wouldn’t Want to be a Pyramid Builder

pyramid bulider

You Wouldn't Want to be a Pyramid Builder by Jacqueline Morley with illustrations by David Antram is a one-of-a-kind book in the series You Wouldn't Want To Be.  This book takes children into the world of Ancient Egypt by putting them in the place of a slave during ancient times.  This engages children in a way that many books cannot.  The descriptive pictures and fascinating text teach children about life, society, and the pyramids of Ancient Egypt.

This book is a fun way to teach what can be a dull subject.  The more "icky" facts, such a embalming, are presented with a comic tone that children appreciate.  Overall the book does a wonderful job reflecting Ancient Egyptian culture and creating awareness that the pyramids were no easy feat to build.

Curriculum Connections

Not only is this a fun and informative book for both adults and kids it also has many classroom tie-ins.  The contributions of the Egyptians as well as their culture and social structure are presented in this wonderful book (2.1, 2.3).

Additional Resources

  • Ancient Egypt Fun provides a fun website for kids with many different games and activities that they can do to learn more about Ancient Egypt.
  • Tour Egypt is a tourism site for Egypt, but this is a special kids page.  It information on Ancient Egypt as well as modern Egypt.  It also includes activities and games.
  • Ancient Egypt Crafts provides many different arts and crafts activities for children, such as making a paper Pharaoh’s mask and making model pyramids.

 General Information

Teaching Ancient Civilization with Children’s Literature: The Desert Is Theirs



The Desert Is Theirs, written by Byrd Baylor and illustrated by Peter Parnall talks about the close relationship of people, animals and how they share the land. The author addresses the many aspects of living in the desert from what the desert looks like, how it feels (weather) and what is living in the desert (animals, plants, ect). This book can teach children about different cultures and their views.

Curriculum Connections:

The Desert Is Theirs would be great for teachers to read aloud to their third grade class. This is because there are some lengthy pages and difficult words to pronounce. The book has detailed pictures the students can look at. The students can go online and research the Papago tribe to understand their culture. (SOL 3.2)

Additional Resources:

Ancient Civilization Clipart and Photos– These photos are perfect to hang in your classroom when you are teaching your lesson on Ancient Civilization. This gives kids a visual way to understand our history.

The Middle East and Beyond– The students become a traveler which they are to explore the Middle-East to gain an understanding of cultures and where they exist

Lesson Plan Central– This website allows students to learn lessons and worksheets on Ancient Civilization

Book: The Desert Is Theirs

Author: Bryd Baylor

Illustrator: Peter Parnall

Publication Date: 1975

Grade Range: 2-5

ISBN: 33082001937878

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Castle Under Attack


Introduction and Summary

Castle Under Attack written by Nicola Baxter and illustrated by Roger Harris is a book that paints a fascinating picture of everyday life in the Middle Ages.  This historical fiction story uses Lego characters to make reading exciting and fun for young children.  Throughout the book, there are informational boxes that are full of background information and give real examples of what life was like in a community during the Middle Ages.  King Leo and Queen Leonora decide to hold a feast at their castle.  An information box describes a castle as being “built in the Middle Ages.  People and animals were safe there if an enemy attacked.”  For entertainment during the feast, they held a tournament with contests.  During the festivities Cedric the Bull, the enemy plotted to attack the castle.  Since Cedric the Bull did not succeed at the initial attack, they decided to take the King’s daughter, Princess Storm instead.  In the end King Leo and his men surround Cedric the Bull’s men and get Princess Storm back.  The bad guys were put in the dungeons and the feast continued.

Curriculum Connections

This book is a super resource for teachers to help students identify how community life in the past is different from present day community life.  It also helps young children to see how the daily lives and roles of people in society has changed. (History SOL 2.3)  The lesson that is trying to be taught along with the story of character and value is a wonderful example of civics and the traits that make up a good citizen. (Civics SOL 1.10)  Lastly this is a great book to encourage better language arts skills because it challenges a young reader with longer sentences and expanded vocabulary.

Additional Resources

  • Kids-Castle is an interactive website that lets you explore a castle by scrolling over different areas of the castle and clicking on them to see more information about that area
  • Informational coloring page that contains vocabulary words pertaining to castles that students can color
  • A word search that contains words about the parts of a castle

General Information
: Castle Under Attack
Author: Nicola Baxter
Illustrator: Roger Harris
Publisher: Tandem Library
Publication Date: 2000
Pages: 32
Grade Range: K-3
ISBN: 0613244982

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Egyptian Diary: The Journal of Nakht


Introduction and Summary
Egyptian Diary: The Journal of Nakht written by Richard Platt and illustrated by David Parkins,  follows the life of nine-year-old Nakht, who has just moved with his family to Memphis where his father has a prestigious new job as a scribe. As Nakht takes up his own scribe lessons, he maintains a diary of the daily events of an Egyptian child as well as the historical events of the time.  Nakht and his sister, Tamyt, decide to investigate the robbing of nearby tombs and eventually catch the criminal mastermind, the Controller of Granaries, at a banquet inside their own house! Nakht and Tamyt are invited to meet King Hatshepsut, who is really a woman! The end of the book has notes of historical details of the time period including maps, a timeline, and information about the Ancient Egyptian society.

Curriculum Connections
This is a great book to introduce Ancient Egypt to elementary students. Although the book itself is long, it would ideal to read aloud a few pages at a time to a class. Key vocabulary could include ancient, scribe, pyramid, Pharaoh, barter, Nile River, and heiroglyphics. The book explores the Ancient Egyptian architecture, inventions, calendar, and writings (SOL 2.1). It can also be used in conjuction with a geography lesson to point out Ancient Egypt on a map as well as the Nile River(SOL 2.4a). An economic lesson can also be incorporated on bartering as there are several examples of bartering throughout the book (SOL 2.8)

Additional Resources

Book: Egyptian Diary: The Journal of Nakht
Richard Platt
Illustrator: David Parkins
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date:
Pages:  64 pages
Grade Range: 2nd-5th grade
ISBN: 0763627569

Teaching Ancient Civilizations with Children’s Literature: Mansa Musa: The Lion of Mali


 Introduction and Summary

 Mansa Musa:  The Lion of Mali, by Khephra Burns,  tells the story of young Kankan Musa, who vanishes from his village in Mali after slave traders kidnap him.  His mother and brothers were devastated.  Kankan was only fourteen when he was sold to a mysterious man dressed so heavily in robes that only his eyes could be seen.  The mysterious man befriends Kankan and shows him the ways of living and surviving in the desert.  Kankan goes on a journey of self-discovery while traveling thousands of miles with him around Africa.  He learns about the pyramids in Egypt, confronts genie’s that transform themselves into lions, and learns about self-control and maturity.  Seven years later, when he is twenty, he makes a journey back to his village to find that his brother has been named King.  He approaches his family and they learn that Kankan has finally returned to the village after all these years.  Kankan becomes a great adviser to his brother and later he himself becomes King.  Many parts of the story are true while the author, Khephra Burns, used fictional stories to detail parts of Kankan Masa’s life.

 Curriculum Connections

 Mansa Musa:  The Lion of Mali would be great for a third grade class learning about Ancient Mali.  A teacher could read Mansa Musa:  The Lion of Mali aloud to students as it is a long book with some difficult words.  Students could go online and do a webquest to learn about the journey that Mansa Musa took and about the culture of Ancient Mali.  (Va SOL 3.2)

 Additional Resources

  • Ancient Mali Scavenger Hunt – An online scavenger hunt where students can find clues and information on Ancient Mali.  Directions are included for students.
  • Mansa Musa Webquest – Online resource for students to learn about Mansa Musa and the journey that he went on.

 General Information

 Book: Mansa Musa:  The Lion of Mali

Author:  Khephra Burns

Illustrator:  Leo and Diane Dillon

Publisher:  Harcourt Childrens Books

Publication Date:  2001

Grade Range:  3-6

ISBN:  100152003754  

Teaching Ancient Civilizations With Children’s Literature: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears


Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears written by Verna Aardema and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon is a West Africa folk tale explaining the reason why mosquitoes buzz in people’s ears.

One day, while Iguana is at the watering hole, Mosquito shows up and tries to tell him about a farmer growing yams as big as Mosquito is.  Annoyed, Iguana puts sticks in his ears so he no longer has to hear what Mosquito says. Python shows up at the watering hole and starts to talk to Iguana, but with the sticks in his ears Iguana can’t hear a thing Python is saying.  Python worries that Iguana is planning mischief against him seeks safety in Rabbit’s hole.  When Rabbit sees Python coming down her Rabbit hole she becomes worried she is going to be eaten and flees from her hole.  Crow sees Rabbit running for her life and decides he needs to spend the word about the ‘apparent’ approaching danger.  When Monkey hears Crow’s cries he runs through the trees trying to get away from the dangerous beast.  While running through the trees, Monkey hits a dead limb which falls on a nest and kills a baby owlet.  When Mother Owl comes back to her nest and finds her little owlet dead she stays in her nest all day and night.  Mother Owl has the responsibility of waking the sun each day, but because she is so sad over her owlet she does not hoot for the sun and the other animals fear the sun will never come back.  King Lion calls a meeting of all the animals and when Mother Owl does not come, he sends Antelope to fetch her.  When she shows up Lion asks her why she has not risen the sun she tells him about Monkey killing her owlet.  Monkey is then summoned and tells Lion about being startled by the crow and one by one the animals come forward and explain why they acted the way they did.  Finally Iguana shows up and explains he did not know Python was trying to talk to him because he had the sticks in his ears.  When Iguana explains that he only had the sticks in his ears because he did not want to hear the lies that Mosquito telling him.  The other animals want Mosquito punished and Mother Owl feels satisfied and she raises the sun.  Mosquito, who was hiding under a leaf during the meeting and heard the whole proceeding, flies away and is never found by the council of animals.  But, to this day because she has a guilty conscience, she goes around whining in people’s ears asking “Is everyone still angry at me?”.

Curriculum Connections
Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears is suitable to be used with grades K – 3. This book could be used to present a picture time line of the sequence of events starting with Mosquito’s lie to Mother Owl losing her owlet (VA SOL 1.1).  This book would also be a great example of the West African oral tradition of storytelling (VA SOL 3.2).

Additional Resources

  • This website has several different lesson plans to use in different academic subjects.
  • This website has two extension activities for the book.
  • This website has seven different writing extension activities for the book.

Book: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears
Author: Verna Aardema
Illustrator: Leo and Diane Dillon
Publisher: Puffin/Dial
Publication Date: 1975
Pages: 32 pages
Grade Range: K-3