Recently, sixth graders from the Class of 2021 at KIPP Academy Middle School were learning about Ancient Egypt and how Ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife when someone died. Mummification helped someone reach the afterlife, because they thought that, in order to have an afterlife, the dead person would have to repossess his or her body. Egyptians believed that the only way to do this was if the body was recognizable. Our sixth-grade history teacher, Mr. Lopez, shared with us that we would be mummifying a chicken to actually experience the real mummification process, and I was really excited.
Reality was that when I had the chicken in front of me, I was even more nervous. I was chosen as the group leader, a big responsibility, because I had to make sure to guide my teammates, and make sure everyone was actively participating and completing their tasks. I also needed to study and learn the Egyptian hieroglyphics to make the Book of Dead and prepare the burial ceremony.
The process before the ceremony was very difficult for me, because at the last minute some teammates didn’t finish the tasks they were assigned. This activity showed us how the Egyptians would have mummified a person. This was a hand- on experience that will last in my memory for a long time.
From trying to figure out what to use instead of paper towels (Ancient Egyptians didn’t have access to disposable items) to understanding why salt is a drying agent that will draw out the moisture and prevent decay, this project helped us to learn not only the process, but the true meaning of teamwork.
The best and most fun part was when we designed our sarcophagus and decorated the box with symbols, designs, and drawings, using paint. All drawings represented the chicken’s life. We really wanted to lay our chicken to rest for good in the sarcophagus.
The most exciting part about mummifying the chicken was bringing in our costumes for a presentation on how our mummy would have been buried in the ancient Egyptian time.
This fun and informative project not only taught me about techniques and procedures performed during the rituals, it has made me understand the value of teamwork a little more, and how in order to get a high grade, you need to work together, because not one person does all the work.
Finally, this experience taught me that working hard does make a difference no matter whether you have little to do or many things that are very complex.
I enjoyed this activity so much, because this was a fun way to learn a lot about the Ancient Egyptians!
Ian Grisman is a little KIPPsters who began his journey #toandthrough in PK4 at KIPP SHINE Prep. Ian is currently climbing the mountain at KIPP Academy and going into 7th grade in 2015-16. He enjoys learning about the past and loves debating the current events that will soon make history. He was recently awarded Historian of the Year for his curiosity and leadership.