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Egyptian Pyramids

Lesson Summary

  • Identify several Egyptian pyramid structures and explain how they evolved over time.
  • Represent various shapes and facts about the pyramids through dance.

Lesson Plan and Procedure

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Lesson Key Facts

  • Grade(s): 6
  • Subject(s): Dance, Social Studies
  • Duration of lesson: 40 minutes
  • Author(s): Jana Shumway

Experience/Identify  

Show visuals of the mummy nicknamed Ginger, the mastaba tombs, the step pyramids, the pyramids of Giza, and the Valley of the Kings.

Display cards with various kings/pharaohs.

Display cards with various time periods.

Have the students guess the order in which the landmarks or artifacts came into being and how they evolved over time by matching the picture to the correct time period and king/pharaoh.

Artifact or Landmark Time Period King/Pharaoh
Ginger Earliest Times  
Mastaba Tombs 3000 BC  
Step Pyramids 2700 BC King Djoser
Pyramids of Giza 2500 BC Pharaoh Khufu
Valley of the Kings 1500 BC King Tut (Tukankhamen)

Give a brief introduction to each of these artifacts or landmarks and the reasoning behind the order they came in.

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eqypt 4
 

Explore/Investigate 

Show the appropriate picture for each of these artifacts or landmarks being explored before exploring them through dance.

Ginger 

Play “Night Ride Across the Caucasus” by Loreena McKennitt.

Have half of the class lie down in a “sand pit” to create the mummified bodies, making straight, stiff shapes. Have the other half of the class represent the sand moving around them by swirling, turning, and twisting. Switch roles.

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Mastaba Tombs 

Have half of the class lie down like mummies, pretending that there are walls all around them. Have the other half of the class make Egyptian relief shapes around them. (For example: head sideways, feet sideways, hips forward, shoulders forward, hands offering, always showing all four limbs.)

Create/Perform

Step Pyramids

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Have the students get into groups of five and create a variety of five step pyramids. (They do not need to make a traditional pyramid—push their creativity with ideas like just using their arms, backs, heads, or feet instead.)

Have the students look around (while holding their shapes) at all the different pyramids in the room. Comment, as appropriate, on the creative choices the students made in making their step pyramids.

Pyramids of Giza

Remain in groups of five and create pyramids with four flat walls. Again, encourage creativity (upside-down walls, making the wall with a different body part, and so on). The fifth member of the group can be Pharaoh Khufu.

Have the students look around (while holding their shapes) at all the different pyramids in the room. Comment, as appropriate, on the creative choices the students made in making the pyramids of Giza.

Valley of the Kings

Split into random groups of different sizes to create the inside of the Valley of the Kings. Have each group create a short movement phrase, knowing that someone will be navigating through from the following ideas:

  • Secret passageways
  • Secret doors
  • Collapsing bridges
  • Fake pharaohs
  • Dead ends
  • False treasures

Use the drum as accompaniment.

After they have created their movement phrase, either you or a student try to make it through all the obstacles in the Valley of the Kings to find the pharaoh and his treasures. 

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Connect/Analyze

Have the students in their groups come up with a short narration (like a sports announcer) for someone trying to go through the Valley of the Kings. In this narration, they need to reference another time period’s pyramid and how that contributed to the Valley of the Kings. Repeat the Valley of the Kings section, allowing each group to comment on what is happening as you go through.

Standards Summary

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Grade 6 Social Studies 

  • Understand how ancient civilizations developed.
  • Understand how ancient civilizations contributed to the modern world.
  • Identify how manmade structures changed over time.

Grade 6 Dance

  • Try to create new shapes based on others but in a different, creative way.
  • Recognize cultural meaning in dance.
  • Use cultural meaning to enhance dance.

Utah State Board of Education Standards

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Grade 6 Social Studies

  • Standard 1: Understand how ancient civilizations developed and how they contributed to the current state of the world.
  • Standard 1: Objective 4: a: Identify innovations in manmade structures over time (for example, irrigation, roads, building materials) and their influence on meeting needs.

Grade 6 Dance

  • Standard 6.D.CR.1: Demonstrate openness, willingness, and persistence in trying new ideas, methods, and approaches when creating dance.
  • Standard 6.D.CR.3: Develop a dance study that communicates personal or cultural meaning.

Equipment and Materials Needed

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  • Word strips of time period, pharaoh, and pyramids
  • “Night Ride Across the Caucasus” by Loreena McKennitt
  • Drum
  • Images of the following:
    • Mummy Ginger
    • Mastaba tombs
    • Step pyramids
    • Pyramids of Giza
    • Valley of the Kings

Additional Resources

Reference List

www.education.byu.edu/arts/lessons