Book Review | Ancient Egypt

Now that we are finished with our Ancient Egypt unit study, I can review the material we used. Hopefully you find it helpful in your search for material to add to your unit. Please not that my kids are pre-K, 4th grade and 8th grade. This unit is for my 4th and 8th graders, but my pre-Ker joined us and especially liked all the hands-on projects.

I have not written the reviews with grammar in mind! Grammarians beware 😉

 

Want a complete list (sans pictures) you can download and print out? Click here.

 

Want to see how I put together this unit?

 

The Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt

By Elizabeth Payne

I loved this book. It was easy to read, well written and captivating…better than an action movie! Written for junior high and older, but can easily be read aloud to a younger student. My 4th grader enjoyed this book, and even my preschooler listened.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit

pah

 

History Opens Windows| The Ancient Egyptians

By Jane Shuter

Easy to read for independent reading for grades as young as 3rd grade. General overview of ancient Egyptian culture. Brief overview of lifestyle. Good introduction for this unit or great for independent reading. Nice illustrations.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit

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Half and Half Books | The Time of the Pharaoh | Great Stories and Cool Facts

Simple fictitious story easy enough for a 2nd or 3rd grader to read on his own, followed by facts about ancient Egypt with beautiful illustrations. The ‘Facts’ part of this book is more suitable for a 4th grade reading level. Back of the book has some questions and answers. Overall I liked this book for read aloud for kids 6th grade or younger, or suitable for independent reading for a 3rd or 4th grader.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit

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Mummies Made in Egypt

By Aliki

Very factual representation of preparing mummies and the funeral process. The illustrations look like the paintings inside temples and pyramids, illustrated in ancient Egyptian style. Borders on boring.

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Understanding People of the Past | The Ancient Egyptians

By Rosemary Rees

General and thorough overview of ancient Egyptian culture and practices. Text and photos, no illustrations. Reading level about 5th grade.  One topic for every two-page spread.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit

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Ancient Egyptians and Their Neighbors | An Activity Guide

By Marian Broida

Covers Ancient Egyptians, Hittites, Nubians, and Mesopotamians. Reading level 5th grade and up. Filled with activities. Great singular resource if you only want to buy one book for multiple units. Plus you get activities suggestions if you don’t want to buy separate activity kids. We didn’t do any of the activities in the book, so I cannot comment on them.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit (if you have a limited budget and need one book for multiple units)

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Ancient Civilizations | Reproducible Workbook

By McDonald

Typical workbook. Each page has a paragraph to read (some have maps or other inserts), followed by questions. Very dry and almost boring. Great if you need to ‘show work’ or hand something in. Great if you want to test your knowledge of the subject area. Only purchase in conjunction with a unit, it’s too sparse on its own. Overs multiple civilizations from Egypt to Rome. Suitable for upper elementary and junior high.

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Hieroglyphic Symbols of Ancient Egypt

Illustrated by Jeanne L. Rogers

Well made fold out pamphlet on ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Large print, nicely illustrated, adequate information. Good reference material to accompany other books on hieroglyphics.

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Tales of Ancient Egypt | Puffin Classics

By Roger Lancelyn Green

Each chapter is about a different story of ancient Egyptian mythology. Suitable read aloud for grades as young as 2nd grade. Reading level is junior high or high school. My kids liked the book. I found it ok. Mixes history with mythology so I got a little confused. As we only had one mythology book, I don’t have any other to compare it, but there may be a better book available.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit (if you don’t have another mythology book)

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Science in Ancient Egypt

By Geraldine Woods

I loved this book! I like adding books/activities from other subjects to our units. This is a history unit, so

Adding in math and science was excellent and allowed us to round out the unit with other subjects. Plus, I learned so much from this book! I found the information exceedingly interesting, my kids found it average. Reading level 5th grade-8th grade. Suitable as a read aloud for younger kids, but they might not understand some of the scientific information.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit

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You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Pyramid Builder!

By Jacqueline Morley

I like all the books in the series “You Wouldn’t Want…” that I’ve read. You might be deceived by the illustrations or silly title, but these books are succinct, easy to read and informative. Though I’m not a huge fan of the comic book style of illustrations and comic banter of the ‘characters’, I’m sure this is enjoyable to kids. I’m impressed with how much I learned from these books versus other books we got for this unit. I’d put these books in the top 5 books for information and retention.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit or keeping in your library permanently.

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You Wouldn’t Want to Be an Egyptian Mummy!

By David Stewart

Another great book from Scholastic. Though it’s by a different author, all the books are well written, easy to read, enjoyable and entertaining. I’m impressed how much I learned and remembered after reading this series. Read more above.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit or keeping in your library permanently.

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You Wouldn’t Want to Be a Cleopatra!

By Jim Pipe

Though I’m not a huge fan of the illustrations for this book, I did learn a lot in an entertaining way. The illustrations actually helped me remember facts about Cleopatra’s life. The kids enjoyed this book, but not as much as I imagine some kids who like the comic book style of this book, for those kids, I think they’ll love it. Easy, fast read. Suitable for read aloud or independent reading for 4th grade and up.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit or keeping in your library permanently.

cleo

 

Ralph Masiello’s Ancient Egypt Drawing Book

Great step by step instructional book for drawing images typical of an Ancient Egyptian study unit.

Colorful and well done.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit

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Cooking in World Cultures | Food and Cooking in Ancient Egypt

By Clive Gifford

I loved this book! Great information, easy to read, informative, filled with photos and illustrations and best of all…recipes!! We made all the recipes and found them delicious. Adding food to a history/cultural unit is a great idea; I highly recommend it.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit

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The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle

By Claudia Logan

Based on the true story of the discovery of Queen Hetep-heres’s tomb. Beautifully illustrated. Don’t be deceived by this picture book; it’s for kids up to 8th grade easily. Very informative, well-written, captivating and enjoyable. Written like a journal with pen-pal inserts. Can be read in one setting in about 20-30 minutes.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit

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Ancient Egyptian Costumes | Paper Dolls

By Tom Tierney

Paper dolls for young elementary, but the figures are quite provocative. We skipped using this book because my boys wouldn’t have been interested in this and my girl was little young for the mature nature of the images. I feel the illustrator take a few liberties, but then again, the ancient Egyptians didn’t wear many clothes and the ones the women wore were often so sheer they were see-through because it was so hot. Since we didn’t use this book after all, I cannot comment on whether it should be added to this unit or not.

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Mummy Mazes

By Don-Oliver Matthies

Fun book to keep kiddos entertained during free time or while reading aloud. My 5 and 9 year old enjoyed this book. It was nice for my 5 year old to have something to do while I read aloud to the kids. Beautifully illustrated, simple mazes, set in Egypt. Simple information by way of entertaining mazes. Goof for preschool and up.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit

maze

 

National Geographic | A Maze Adventure | Secrets of the Pyramids

By Graham White

Maze book for older elementary because the textual information on each page on the sidebar is written at a 5th grade level. This book is packed with information. Nice illustrations. The mazes are fun and more challenging than Mummy Mazes.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit or owning.

mazes

 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art | Fun with hieroglyphs

By Catharine Roehrig

Great book and kit. Comes with stamps and a stamp pad to practice writing hieroglyphs. Very informative book that has several captions to practice what you learn. However, I didn’t want the kids to mark in the book, so I took pictures of the practice exercises and printed them off so the kids could work them out.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit

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Stephen Biesty | Egypt in Spectacular Corss-Section

Amazing illustrations. Each page has a paragraph to introduce the information, while captions explain further detail about the illustrations. We accidentally forgot to add this book to our unit study because I had it on display in our school room as it was too large of a book to fit with the rest of the material. That’s my only complaint: it’s a tall book that doesn’t fit in any of our bookcases unless you put the spine parallel to the shelf, but then you can’t see the title of the book.  It’s a really entertaining book and think it would be a good choice for a unit study, but as I haven’t used, I cannot say for sure.

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Mysteries of History | Ancient Egypt

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. Amazing interactive book with many moveable, removable and interactive elements. Great illustrations (though I think the illustrator took artistic freedom in his illustrations!). Well-paced, informative, and compelling. Large book with few pages. Pages are thick and filled with layers and flaps. Suitable as a read aloud for all ages up to 8th grade. Reading level about 5th grade. Fun to browse after reading.

Worth adding to an Ancient Egypt unit

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Ancient Egypt | DK Eyewitness

As with all Eyewitness books, this one is filled with photos and captions. Each two-page spread covers one topic with an introductory paragraph written at junior high reading level. Suitable to as a read aloud for kids as young at 1st grade, though it’s not ideal for that age. I don’t particularly like this format as it is not a narrative and you could open any page without reading it in order. Hard to retain information. Could be used as an introduction or review or as a reference book.

agypt

 

Pyramids | Eyewitness Books

Like all Eyewitness books this one is filled with photos and captions. Each two-page spread covers one topic with an introductory paragraph written for 7th grade and up. Suitable read aloud for elementary. Hard to retain information. Can be read in any order. Great for picking and choosing pages to read. Good reference book.

boo

 

Egyptology | Candlewick Press

Fun book to look at, but hard to read through. It’s based on a fictitious lost journal from archaeologists who were looking for the island upon which Osiris was buried. The book is long and hard to follow, but is filled with beautiful illustrations and interactive elements. A confusing mix of history, mythology and fiction.  Beautiful book to browse through once you’re finished reading it. Great idea for a book, though.

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Kits/Activities:

 

National Geographic Archaeology Pyramid Dig

By Thames and Kosmos

Easy kit to do for kids 3rd and up. Very fast project, not more than 30-45 minutes. Best thing is you don’t destroy the pyramid during the excavation process. Comes with nice excavation tools specifically designed for this kit, not just a wooden stick, but a complete set of tools (maybe based on actual archaeological tools).  Booklet comes with decoding worksheet, directions, information and experiments and projects. We did the “Mummify an Apple” experiment.

This project took several days, but each day only took less than 15 minutes.

pyt

 

Art in History | King Tuankhamun Tomb Frieze

Well made tile with imprint of design. Comes with everything you need to paint the project (paints, brushes, plate, wedge). Easy directions. Free downloadable lesson plan. Very nice tile piece when complete. Even inexperienced painters will finish with a great project.

This project took 1-2 hours.

plac

 

Papyrus Paper Making Kit | Egyptian Imports

We tried two different kits and found them similar except that the one from Egyptain Imports came with information on the growing and harvesting of papyrus and how paper was made as well as thorough directions. It also came with a piece of printed papyrus for painting. It did not come with paints, but we used excess paint from another kit to paint the papyrus. The process of making the papyrus was interesting, but the home kits in no way can reproduce the same results as professional paper mills. Are final product wouldn’t stay ‘glued’ together. Also, there were enough pieces of papyrus to make a square piece based on the length of papyrus in the kit.

This project took several days/weeks

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Dig, Discover and Display | Ancient Coins

This excavation kit was different than the ones we tried with our ancient Rome unit in that it was easier, and fully assembled. In some excavation kits, you have to excavate pieces of pottery or another artifact and then assemble it. Those kits are suitable for older kids. This one was a frame with coins from various ancient civilizations. It was packed in a soft, easy to excavate plaster which a four-year-old could excavate. Once complete, you could paint the frame and coins. I think there could have been more paint or at least a better variety. We used our own acrylic paint in addition to the ones that came in the kit.

This project took 1-2 hours.

coins

 

Dig, Discover and Display | Egyptian Relics

This is another easy excavation kit that a child as young as 5 years old could do with a little assistance from an adult. What’s great about this kit is that the sarcophagus comes in only two pieces, so it’s not hard to excavate or assemble. There are also other amulets to uncover. Paint is included if you wish to paint the sarcophagus. Each Dig, Discover and Display kit comes with a booklet on becoming an archaeologist as well as directions, information and historical context. Excavation material varies in hardness from kit to kit.

This project took 1-2 hours.

relic

 

Mummy Excavation | Geocentral

The sarcophagus being excavated is a very durable, detailed and well-made. The plaster was quite hard and we overlooked the part in the directions that say to add water, had we this project would have been easier to excavate. After the kids had spent 20 minutes excavating with minimal progress, I gently dropped the project to loosen the sarcophagus from the excavation material. This helped a lot. Once the sarcophagus is removed, you can open it to find a mummy. Remove the mummy, and wrap it in the paper linen wrappings.

This project took 1-2 hours.

e mumm

 

Papyrus Painting Kit

This set came with six small printed papyrus papers to be painted. They measured roughly 6”x4”. The designs were intricate to simple. The kit did not come with paint. They were easy to paint, however. We taped down the edges onto a table to keep the edges from curling up. The paper did end up curling anyway though. Suitable for 4th grade and up

Project took up to one hour.

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Do you have a book or project you added to your Ancient Egyptian unit study you want to share? Please leave it in the comment section. I would love to hear what things you did for your unit 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Book Review | Ancient Egypt

  1. Hi
    I was wondering how you prepared this unit study during your week. My son said he would be interested in learning about ancient Egypt and Rome next year and am trying to figure out the details. I have normally done just workbooks, and as he finds this boring I’m trying to figure out how to put together a “new homeschool”. One where their is lots of hands on activities and where he finds learning fun. Thank-you again for this, it helped a lot. Oh and also how do you pick out books/activities for the year in your unit studies.

    1. Hi Angela, I’m so happy you’re looking for a new way to homeschool your son and bring some fun into it. My approach for studying history is to use as many literature or ‘living books’ as possible. Living books is a Charlotte Mason idea in which books are chosen that are written in an engaging manner and usually by a single author. I look for historical fiction, biographies, books on culture or lifestyle, religion, actual history and books on crafts or hands-on activities and when possible I add in some kits or materials for projects. I usually search online for books, but I’ve reviewed all the books we used for Ancient Egypt and you can start there to find books for your unit. Once I pull all my books together, I figure out how long it will take to read each book and whether I’ll read to my child or he’ll read it to himself. Then I can gauge how long the unit will last. Last step is to write it all down in a lesson plan. I hope this helps!

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