The ancient Egyptians believed that gods and goddesses controlled the forces of nature and all things. Every occurrence of everyday life, such as birth and death, the cycle of night and day, and the seasons were associated with a particular god or goddess. The ancient Egyptians did not think of their gods as distant beings. They believed that gods had needs, desires, emotions, and wants, as humans do. The myths of these gods and goddesses helped the ancient Egyptian people understand and explain the world around them.
A Pageant of Gods and Goddesses
Have your students work in groups to research the Egyptian deities. Each group should choose one figure on which to focus, gathering information, myth details, and pictures to show to the class. As many of the Egyptian gods are associated with different animals, you may want to construct masks to add excitement and drama to your presentations.
Learning Through Wall Paintings
The ancient Egyptians decorated the walls of their palaces and tombs with brightly painted murals. While some of the paintings depicted everyday life, many told stories of gods, goddesses, and rulers. Visit the Egyptian Wall Murals Web site listed below. Ask your students to look closely at pictures (either on the computer or projected onto a screen). What do these pictures tell them about the ancient Egyptians and the way that they imagined their gods? Ask them to make a list of all the new information they have gathered from the pictures, about for example, what the ancient Egyptians wore, or what plants and animals lived in the region.
Writing and Illustrating a Myth
Write and illustrate a class book based on an Egyptian myth. Read the short version of one of the myths at the Web sites listed below. Do a breakdown of what happens in the story with your class and decide what should happen on each page. Working individually or in pairs, have your students work on a single scene, writing a sentence describing what happens and drawing and coloring a picture. Use the murals you have seen as inspiration for your drawings. When you are finished, you will have a fascinating book for your class library.