This month, we go to Ancient Egypt with the ballet, The Pharaohs Daughter! It’s a rarely performed, but highly revered, ballet with music by Cesare Pugni. The story resembles The Nutcracker Suite, in that it revolves around a dream. But here, the dream belongs to a man: English Lord John Bull. He goes to Egypt to study the pyramids and when a sand storm traps him inside one, he falls asleep by the mummy of a Pharaoh’s Daughter and dreams of loving her when she was alive.
Our STEAM homeschool activities are especially fun this month, and I hope you enjoy sharing these with your high-achieving, dancers!
As this may be your child’s first exposure to Ancient Egypt, a primer can be helpful. Note: I avoid the topic of mummification as it’s not developmentally appropriate. This said, children’s videos on the topic do exist: example here. Below, see a primer.
Sandstorms are a common weather events in Egypt. This lovely old documentary video shows soldiers braving the storm. We tend to call them Dust Storms in America (we have them in the dry states). Watch this wonderful meteorologist explain to a new first grader how sandstorms form.
Technology: The Nile River’s Boats
The Nile River is at the heart of all life in modern and Ancient Egypt: the River sources water for drinking, washing, watering crops and TRANSPORTATION. This wonderful video not only shows why the Nile was important, but also mentions NUBIANS, who are part of The Pharaoh’s Daughter, the ballet we study this month!
For good reason, Egypt is incredibly proud of their boats and the technologies they developed to work with the Nile in its seasons. This NatGeoKids adventure revolves around a Felucca boat and dips into different ports to sample the pleasures, including paddle boats! I highly recommend subscribing to NatGeo on Youtube!
What spectacular cartoons we have online about how the pyramids were made. It’s a fascinating system of problems with remarkable answers. The following videos features some big words, but the visual demonstrations are just great! And so many projects can come from these lessons.
People have been fascinated with pyramids for centuries and some of us (kinesthetic learners) need to make things to understand things. This example of a kinesthetic learner figuring out pyramids is just wonderful: his medium is wood.
Art: Draw an Egyptian Boat of Pharoah
Math: Pyramid Block Project
Ancient Egyptians famously created many forms of measurement math which we use today–they came up with the 24 hour day and 365 Day Year. (The National Geographic primer on Ancient Egypt is FANTASTIC, but for older students.)
The pyramid crafts I direct you to (below) will work with children from Toddler to Pre-Teen because pyramids are magically efficient and vary from simple to elaborate; you choose what to do based on your abilities/interest. Below, find a collection of links to pyramids you can build with your child–or, set your child up with THE RIGHT NUMBER OF BUILDING TOOLS (math) and let them figure it out. All pyramids are made of single materials for simple counting.
Make your pyramid for what you have on hand!
Choose paper, legos, medium sized blocks, foam, matchsticks, bamboo skewers (careful, pointy!), play-doh, magnet balls (aka BuckyBalls), dominoes, cardboard, matches (hard!) and dollar bills. And, of course, origami pyramids. The PBS show NOVA made this cut out template as part of a pamphlet on pyramid excavation.
Craft sticks (aka popsicle sticks) pyramids often require crafters to cut the sticks (this isn’t safe or developmentally appropriate), but I found two videos that DO NOT require wood cutting, but still demonstrate 3-D values: 3-D simple Tetrahedron and Stacked Center “Temple” (video made by kids, adorable bloopers).
Watch the Ballet Online
You can see a lovely but older production of The Pharoah’s Daughter here. Please note: the video has a glitch (1:15-1:26) that causes it to repeat a little more than 10 minutes of content.
This classical ballet was recently revived by the Bolshoi with Svetlana Zakharova (my personal favorite dancer). Available on DVD (click the image).