We’re going strong with the Ancient Egypt theme at the minute! Since the 6yo has a four-day weekend, we’ve been sneaking in a little more reading than usual. This evening he chose The Mystery of the Golden Pyramid by Adela Norean and illustrated by Aaron Cushley. This lift-the-flap adventure book follows Sophie and (Anubis-ish) talking dog Ari as they race to recover the stolen amulets of an ancient pharaoh. Sounds right up our street!
Lift-the-flap books have always been well-loved here, but I now usually end up getting the 6yo ones which are way too baby-ish or far too complicated. So I was v pleasantly surprised to find this one was just right!
Just before the Easter break, we ran some sessions about the Ancient Egyptian afterlife for the museum’s Home Educator’s Day. It turned out to be a really relaxing day! A few people asked if we could make the resources available for those further afield, too. So if you’d like to find out more about one of our favourite afterlife objects – shabti – and try out the worksheets yourself, read on!
The Ancient Egyptians believed that even in the Afterlife they would still have to do the same kind of chores and tasks that they did during their lives. So they came up with a sneaky way to get around this: magical little figures called shabti or ushabti. These would be placed with you in your tomb. Once you reached the Afterlife, you could then call your shabti to work for you instead – while you relaxed in the beautiful Field of Reeds!
Did I choose this book based solely on the title? Absolutely! Alexander the Great Dane by Chris Capstick and Monika Filipina is a fun little story of what happens when the underdogs (quite literally) decide it is time for a change. Asides from the excellent pun in the title, the ‘ancient’ theme in this one can also be found in the setting of Ancient Egypt — where we are also treated to an alternate origin story for the Pyramids of Giza!
When young pup Alexander grows up, his playful days come to an end when he realises he must spend the rest of his life toiling away for others. And not just any others: the Giant Cats who rule over the land. My now 6yo (!) is a huge cat fan – and has recently been learning about the Great Sphinx of Giza – so he was especially delighted by the illustrations in this one. On their heads, the Giant Cats wear colourful Nemes, the royal headdress worn by Ancient Egyptian Pharaohs. This striped linen cloth was tied at the back of the head, with lappets (the bits that hang down!) coming down over the shoulders.
One of the areas I work on a lot is Ancient Greek philosophy, and you won’t be surprised to hear that there aren’t a huge amount of books out there to introduce children to the wonderful worlds of people like the Presocratics or Plato. So when the 5yo recently asked ‘Is Atlantis real?’, I jumped at the opportunity for some Platonic myths! I was extremely excited to find Christina Balit, who wrote the fab Escape from Pompeii,had also written a book all about the Atlantis myth – based on the story in Plato. Hurrah! Atlantis: The Legend of a Lost City was a little tricky to track down but we got lucky with an impeccably-timed eBay auction. Can you believe nobody else bid on it!?
The story follows the Atlantis myth from the very beginning, starting all the way back with Chaos itself. We quickly learn that Zeus overthrows the Titans and the world is divided between him and his two brothers: Zeus gets the heavens, Hades gets the Underworld, and Poseidon gets the sea. This is how we learn more about Atlantis – at this point, just a tiny little island floating in Poseidon’s great sea.
We’re in a big making-up-stories phase at the minute, coinciding with the 5yo’s current focus in school on independent creative writing. He loves writing all sorts of weird and wonderful little tales about monsters and ghosts and smugglers (thanks, Famous Five), so I’ve been gathering some books specifically designed to build vocabulary – and there are so many choices! We were especially happy to find The Ancient World in 100 Words by Clive Gifford and Gosia Herba. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but look at this beauty! I actually came across it in the monthly Postscript Books catalogue, and immediately ordered it – a big colourful hardback for £6.99? Yes please!
The set-up is simple: each page focuses on a specific English word about the ancient world, with a full-page cheerful retro illustration and a brief definition underneath. There’s a great mix of vocabulary from the geographical to the mythological and the straightforward historical. There’s people, places, things – and importantly in our house, monsters!