I Want My Mummy!

It was finally time to learn about the mummification process…this is not for the faint of heart! Where to begin? Oh yes, we need a dead body. No one wanted to volunteer so it was time for an art lesson (you knew I would find a way to incorporate art didn’t you!) Form (a 3 dimensional figure) is one of the elements of art and so we made a body out of packing tape.

Assembling the body wasn’t easy.

But it turned out fabulous! The kids named him Matt the Mummy;-)

As you can see we stuffed (I mean carefully placed) all Matt’s organs in the right spots. Did you notice a few of my students are missing? I told you it is not for the faint of heart!

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With our canopic jars ready to go we are now ready for the embalming.

We brought Matt’s body to the tent known as ‘ibu’ or the ‘place of purification’. There the embalmers washed his body with good-smelling palm wine and rinsed it with water from the Nile. (Some how I convinced the skittish students to participate.)

  1. Insert a hook through a hole near the nose and pull out part of the brain.
  2. Make a cut on the left side of the body near the tummy.
  3. Remove all internal organs.
  4. Let the internal organs dry.
  5. Place the lungs, intestines, stomach and liver inside canopic jars. 

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It was then time for the weighing of the heart ceremony.  The ancient Egyptians believed that to enter your afterlife, your heart had to be light. You gained a light heart by doing many good deeds during your lifetime. After you died, on your way to your afterlife, you had to travel through the Hall of Maat. The god Anubis weighed your heart. The god Thoth recorded the findings. And the god Ammut (with the head of a crocodile) stood by. If your heart was as a light as a feather, you passed Maat’s test, and entered your afterlife. But, if your heart was heavy, Ammut would move swiftly and gobble you up.

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It was pretty intense as we waited to see where the scale would tip…

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Poor Matt wasn’t as good as he should have been! (Mitchell surprised us all when he actually ate the paper heart!) With the body prepared it was time to wrap him up.

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Egyptians placed amulets among a mummy’s bandages to ensure the deceased a safe, healthy, and productive afterlife.

Without a word from me the kids made a procession of placing Matt the Mummy in the corner of our room, there to rest peacefully (or as peacefully as one can rest in our classroom!)

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Human Biology

What child isn’t intrigued by mummies? We learned that it was very important to ancient Egyptian religious beliefs that the human body was preserved. The method of artificial preservation, called mummification was developed by the ancient Egyptians. Before learning about the process of mummification I realized this was the perfect time to teach about the human body and a few of it’s amazing systems.

Digestive System

We began with the digestive system. The students were a little disgusted seeing how their peanut butter and jelly sandwich moved through their digestive system. It was a great way to see how chemical digestion and mechanical digestion works!

A few days later I decided to give the kids a test, “Okay kids choose what part of the digestive system you want to be, find the tools you need, and show me how it works!” They were able to line up in the right order and get the candy from the mouth to the anus. Calvin started things off showing us mechanical digestion, Olive was on top of chemical digestion, Eliza is hard at work absorbing nutrients, Paris had a great time moving things along the rectum and Noah finished it off! Incredible thinking going on here… along with a lot of laughs!

Toilet tag became a favorite recess game:)

I just had to bring in some art….digestive system T-shirts!

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Circulatory System

Next came the circulatory system. We discovered what blood is made up of and my artsy students made great diagrams after building their own blood model.

Playing our circulatory board game we learned how the red blood cells move nutrients, air and waste around our bodies. Then we went outdoors to play the game super sized!

The Nervous System

The nervous system was our last body system to learn about. First up was an experiment to show how protected our brain is. There was a whole lot of shaking going on!

But our brain survived!

We made neuron models and brain hats, learning about the different parts of the brain and how it is the control center of our bodies.

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Neurons are nerve cells that transmit nerve signals to and from the brain at up to 200 mph. We tried seeing how fast we could pass signals to each other and whether our friends could catch us passing our messages along.

 

Ancient Egypt

When you think of ancient civilizations Egypt is one of the most fascinating! The story of ancient Egypt has survived for thousands of years. The tombs and monuments of ancient Egypt continue to stand intact today, some 4,000 years later! My students were excited to learn about Egypt’s geography, history and written language. Opening their imaginations began with a view of the pyramids and then a crawl through some ancient tunnels.

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Coming out of the tunnel they found a tomb full of treasures!

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We set out learning about the geography of Egypt, the Nile river and the three kingdoms.

The ancient Egyptians built pyramids as tombs for the pharaohs and their queens. The pharaohs were buried in pyramids from before the beginning of the Old Kingdom to the end of the Middle Kingdom. There are about eighty pyramids known today from ancient Egypt. All very interesting but my students wanted to know why did they build these tombs in the shape of a pyramid, why not a square or a rectangle? So we conducted some experiments!

Another things the kids wondered about was how they built the pyramids. After a lot of reading of great books and learning about all the people it took to build these gigantic structures we conducted some more experiments.

We recorded the amazing facts we were learning.

Going back into our tunnel we discovered hieroglyphs left by the ancient Egyptians. We learned to translate them from a French Egyptologist, Jean Francois Champollion.  He was the first person to successfully translate all the Egyptian hieroglyphs back in 1822.

 

Art Days

Every Thursday is art day, when we enjoy letting our creative side run wild! Children of all ages love art but what many of us do not realize is how vital art is in developing the whole child.  If you want your children to increase their overall brain functioning capabilities, improve cognitive and creative skills, raise their self-esteem levels, and increase their enthusiasm for learning, then have them involved in art!

Scarecrows

Our first color lesson for the year is Scarecrows.  A color circle, based on red, yellow and blue, is traditional in the field of art. Sir Isaac Newton developed the first circular diagram of colors in 1666, and we are still using it today!

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Blow Trees

Fall colors, India ink and straws.  That’s all you need to create these fanciful fall paintings.  Oh, and a lot of air!  I kept reminding the kids to rest between blowing, stop if you’re getting light headed and most importantly swallow your saliva between breaths!

Zentangle Pumpkins

What is Zentangle?  “The Zentangle Method is an easy to learn, fun and relaxing way to create beautiful images by drawing structured patterns.”  In 2004 Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts invented the art of Zentangle.  Creating tangles is a “zen” activity, it’s like yoga for the mind.  MA students got creative inside plump pumpkins using tangles like, “betweed,” “fracas,” and “diva dance.”

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City Reflections

After learning about the art of print making the students carved a cityscape into foam and printed it on their painted sunset and then upside down in their water to make a reflection.

Monochromatic Landscapes

Using just one color plus black and white the students made landscapes.  Then with a different color plus black and white they created moons or suns.  We then combined their paintings into one art work.

Marvelous Math Mayhem

Our math curriculum, RightStart Mathematics, emphasizes understanding.  This program uses visualization of quantities, de-emphasizes counting and provides mental pictures for memorizing the facts.  After learning an arithmetic concept we play games.  When your child learned to read they practiced their reading skills by reading for pleasure.  In the same way, math games combine practice with pleasure.  My students love math games!

Making and playing with the multiplication table

 

Addition, multiplication, fractions or percents, they are all fun!

How many triangles can you form with nine toothpicks?

G’day Mate!

What better way to start a new year off than to travel to Australia?  The students were greeted with a huge whale that took up half of my wall space and turtles swimming overhead.  We were sure to find some excitement in the land down under!

We read about wombats, learned how the Aussie’s talk, sang some great Australian folk songs, made clap sticks, wrote postcards and danced sacred aboriginal dances.

Then we turned our attention to some creepy crawly eight-legged creatures….that’s right, SPIDERS!  There was just a little bit of arachnophobia in the classroom as we learned about Huntsmen, Sydney Funnel Web, Red Back and other very scary Australian spiders.  The most interesting thing about spiders is their webs…. or so we thought.  Do you know there are many kinds of spiders that don’t spin webs?

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The gladiator spider constructs a square net which it holds between its forelegs while hovering a few inches above the ground.  When an unsuspecting insect wanders by it drops to the floor and captures its prey in the net!  So cool!

 

First Week Fun!

I’ve been anxiously awaiting the first week of fun of this new school year.  A whole new year to explore, create, learn and make new friends!  I’d like to introduce you to a very special friend….Miss Jessica.

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This is not the best timing but starting next week I will be taking some time off to have a little surgery, so Miss Jessica will spend six weeks with our new fabulous bunch of kiddos in our 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade class of ten students.