1/2 Revard

Inquiry Immersion Segues Into Constructing Deeper Meaning

Posted on February 11, 2012

by Ms. Revard on February 11, 2012

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The arts and crafts of ancient Egypt have been an important part of the children's immersion activities. Abbey Day engaged the students in mini-inquiries on papyrus, hieroglyphs, and the use and meaning of symbols. She encouraged them to design symbolic representations of their own lives and inner selves and paint them on papyrus. Soon Mr. Tanruther and his son will give the children a hands-on experience with the process of making papyrus. The Magic Stone Kids have also been busy learning to write their names in hieroglyphics and creating cartouches, traditional ovals surrounding pharaohs' names, which protected them from evil spirits and brought good luck. Last week they were busy painting their golden burial masks with designs favored by the ancient pharaohs who wore them and creating clay sculptures with Egyptian motifs. Thank you, Mrs. Day, for integrating art into our 1/2 inquiry curriculum and deepening the children's understanding of ancient Egypt. Do check out Mrs. Day's blog for details about the children's learning experiences in Art.

Yes, it's true. A chicken pharaoh, yet to be officially named, is mummifying in our classroom! We began by thoroughly washing and drying it and inspecting the heart and liver, organs which would have been placed in sacred canopic jars and stored alongside a mummy's sarcophagus. Embalmers in ancient Egypt prepared the body just as we did, rubbing sweet smelling cinnamon and allspice inside and outside and finally encasing it in salt. We've learned the Egyptians used a salt called natron to completely dry the body before wrapping it in linen bandages. Our bandages will be gauze, but we will cover our mummy with amulets and jewels just as the ancients did. We must repeat the spice and salt process several times in the next few weeks, and if all goes well you will see an real mummy on March 9th.

On Friday, the Magic Stone Egyptologists drew from their rich immersion experiences to create a list of general topics for further research and constructing deeper meaning with inquiry teams. Most classes come up with twelve to fifteen ideas, but your inquisitive, knowledgeable kids have twenty-nine--from such esoteric subjects as the Afterlife and underworld god, Osiris, to a more practical interest in ancient Egyptian clothing and who washed it (there's a rumor that men had to do that chore). We collectively decided that everyone should write a prioritized list of 3 -5 choices, and now Ms. Revard has the complicated task of forming research teams with similar interests and the ability to collaborate well with one another. Wish me luck! This is the phase we call "constructing meaning" which will segue into making a plan for "communicating meaning" on March 9th. We may need some parent help with research and writing reports. Possible dates and times are listed below. Please let me know by email if you are able to come in and help.

  • Wednesday, February 15, 1:00 - 2:15
  • Thursday, February 16, 1:00 - 2:15
  • Tuesday, February 21, 10:00- 11:30
  • Wednesday, February 22, 1:00 - 2:15
  • Thursday, February 23, 1:00 - 2:15
  • Friday, February 24, 12:45 -2:15

I know many of you are working, so please don't be concerned if you're unable to participate.  As soon as I know who's available and when, I'll make a schedule and let you know the actual days and times you can join us to learn more about Egypt with your children.

The Academy of Arts "Museum in a Box"
Susan Hogan, an Academy of Arts Ambassador, inspired probing questions, the sharing of knowledge and ideas, and speculative, creative thinking in your children with her "Museum in a Box" filled with intriguing artifacts representing the culture, religion, and daily life of ancient Egyptians. Susan possesses a wealth of information and encouraged the children to participate and take a good look at the artifacts. I must say, the Magic Stone Kids were very reluctant to let her leave! She'll be back on February 27 to help the children create their own canopic jars with animal or god heads. These jars were used to store important body parts like the heart and lungs which accompanied a mummy on its journey to the afterlife. The Academy's Ambassador Program will conclude with a docent-led visit to the museum on March 15 to officially wrap up our deep and fascinating study of ancient Egypt. Ms. Hogan was impressed by the depth of critical thinking during discussions and questioning and the connections made between artifacts or stories and previous learning. I'm noticing how much more often the children say things like, "I'd like to add to what __ is saying . . . " or "I like what ___ is saying, but I think . . . because . . . ." Such scholarly discussions among such young children!

Celebrate your children's thinking and curiosity by taking time to speak with them about their learning and sharing your own knowledge and thoughts. The Magic Stone Kids and I thank you for supporting and enhancing what we do in the classroom!

**The children may bring Valentines on Tuesday, but make sure there's one for each child in the class. The Berg family adopted Valentine's Day and will be giving each child a wonderful goodie bag. Mahalo!