What do you think?
Learning from Objects
Learning to Look at Objects
Questions to Ask an Object
Ask an Object
Investigating an Artefact
Artefacts and Archaeology
What’s the Damage
Falling apart o Touch board Experiment o Heat and Water Experiment o Growing Mould o
Real or Replica
Make Your Own!
Who, What, Where, When and Why?
Gods and Goddesses
Activity ideas to inspire teaching staff shaded in blue.
Activity sheets that could be used direct with children, not shaded.
Ask the children to put down their initial ideas about Life in Ancient Egypt.
Could use a Thought Bubble, topic web, a list . . . . or any format they are familiar with.
Think Bubble . .
What do you think?
Ask questions in group and / or whole class discussions.
Display questions around the room to encourage debate and to spark interest.
The same questions could be used at the end of the topic to see if their answers would differ.
Questions might include: -
Where do you think Egypt is?
How long ago is ‘ancient’?
What objects do you think survive today from ancient Egypt?
What do you think an archaeologist does?
How are we similar to the ancient Egyptians?
How are we different to the ancient Egyptians?
Would you have liked to live in ancient Egypt? (say why or why not)
Do you think it is right for museums to display human remains?
Do you think museums should return ancient Egyptian artefacts to
Divide class into small groups or teams (3-4 children in each).
Give each team a question to research before the visit.
Each team could then share their findings with the rest of the class. e.g. What clothes did people wear?
What were ancient Egyptian homes like?
What weapons and tools did they use?
What gods and goddesses did they worship?
What jobs did they do?
How did they travel around the country?
How did they treat the dead?
What did they do in their spare time?
Teams could continue their research in RAMM, perhaps working towards giving a group presentation or creating a display of their main findings back in the classroom.
Children can make a series of maps to show where Egypt is in the world key features of the landscape main cities important sites in ancient times important sites in modern times
Egypt and her neighbours – trading partners
They could also try making 3D maps to show the same information.
Children could then choose one of these maps to bring with them on their visit to the Museum, in order to locate where particular objects on display were originally found.
Construct individual and / or whole class timelines to show the passage of time and chronological order of events.
Illustrate and decorate with Egyptian style pictures and patterns.
Relevant reference books and websites often include timelines, or one of these could be used as a basis.
The ‘Time Line and Glossary’ download has further information.
Sand mummies buried in the desert.
Pyramids at Giza and the
Sphinx were built during this period.
Nubia, and became a strong trading power during this period.
Rameses II reigned during this period.
Shepenmut made in
Thebes c 870BC
The Great and later
Discrepancies remain over the exact dates of the various periods, depending on the sources consulted.
These dates represent the most typical.
Children could find out about Egypt today: -
What are the people like?
What language do they speak?
What religion(s) do they follow?
How do they live?
Children could interview someone who has been to Egypt recently, or better still invite some Egyptian people into the classroom to interview.
Encourage children to make a list of relevant questions for their interview, and be clear what it is they want to find out.
Learning to look at Objects
Children love to look at things!
And they really love to actually handle them!
So, encourage children to look carefully at everyday items and to handle them sensibly in order to learn from them.
Learning to look at objects for information is a very important skill.
You can read an object like a book.
Anyone can do it and anyone can see something interesting in an object. You don’t have to be good at drawing, reading, writing – just looking carefully.
Objects can tell you all sorts of things about other people and the world they come from.
Ask an object is all about careful observation – a skill that all of us need every day of our lives. But you need to practice!
Once you become confident and are able to ‘trust’ objects to speak to you, the real fun starts.
Handling everyday items like this at school will help prepare children to learn from the objects they see in the Museum, and will also develop their visual literacy skills before the visit.
Anything can be used: - e.g. a pencil, a flower pot, a school bag, an exercise book, a lunch box, etc.
* Use the prompt sheet
ie. ‘Questions to Ask an Object’.
Then you can try it using odd or quirky items that the children might not have seen before eg. a pestle and mortar, a rain stick, an old earthenware bed warmer, etc or some historical artefacts, if you can get hold of them.
* Use one of the artefact handling prompt sheets
ie. Ask an Object
Investigating an Artefact to get children (and adults!) talking in small groups about their object.
The same sheets can also be used on your visit to the Museum itself.
Questions to Ask an Object!
You can ask a modern, everyday object like a plastic cup or a ball point pen a set of questions like those below.
Start with . . . . ‘what is it?’ . . . . ‘what’s it for?
Now look more closely and answer the following questions.
Sort the questions into ones you can answer by looking at the object and those you can only answer by looking in books or asking someone else:
What does it smell of?
What does it taste like (if safe to taste it!)
How does it feel? Do different areas of it feel different?
Does it make a noise? How would you describe the noise?
Describe its shape, colour and any decoration.
What are its measurements? Why is it the size it is?
Are all objects like this the same size?
Has the size of this object changed over the years?
Do you think it will change? Why?
Is it decorated or plain? Why?
Does it have writing on it? What does it tell you?
Are there any logos or other symbols? What do they mean?
Does it have a name? Does its name tell us anything about its use?
Does it have anything on it which tells you where it was made?
What can you find out about who made it and where they came from?
What is it made out of? What raw materials are involved?
Why is it made out of this?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of these materials?
Can you tell how it was made? What’s the evidence?
Is it well designed? Does it work well for the job it has to do?
How could it be improved?
Did people need objects like this 100 years ago? Or 20, or 5?
Did the object replace anything?
Why do we need the object today?
Will they need them in the future? What might replace them?
Show the object to as many people as you can in 10 minutes.
How many people know what it is? What does this tell you?
Would you get the same response in other parts of the world?
America? Tropical jungles? Antarctic? What does this tell you?
How many of these objects are used everyday in this country?
What happens to them when they are finished with?
Do you ever find them just thrown away as litter? What does that tell you?
What do you think is the most significant thing about this object? Why?
Now see if you can think of ten more questions to ask an object!!
Adapted from ‘Teaching Yourself to Teach With Objects’ by John Hennigar Shuh in Journal of Education 7
(9) Department of Novia Scotia, 1982
Ask an object! Artefact Handling
Here are some questions for you to ask about an object in front of you.
You can add questions of your own as well.
Things to think about Questions to ask
What does it look and feel like?
What colour is it?
What does it smell like?
What does it sound like?
What is it made of?
It is a natural or manufactured material?
Is the object complete?
Has it been altered, adapted, mended?
Is it worn?
How was it made?
What was it made for?
Is it well designed?
What is it worth?
How important is it?
Is it handmade or machine made?
Was it made in a mould or in pieces?
How has it been fixed together?
How has the object been used?
Has the use changed?
How well does it do the job it was intended to do?
Were the best materials used?
Is it decorated?
How is it decorated?
What do you think about the way it looks?
Would other people like it?
To the people who made it?
To the people who used it?
To the people who keep it?
To a bank?
To a museum?
What I noticed
You can ask questions like this of any object or artefact. See what you can learn!
Investigating an Artefact Artefact Handling
Physical Features (What does it look and feel like?)
List all its physical features such as colour, shape, texture, smell, appearance.
Are there any signs of ageing? Does it make a sound? What else can you think of?
In the box below make a simple line drawing of your object.
Construction (How was it made?)
What do you think it could be made of? Was it hand-made or machine made?
Was it made in a mould or in pieces? If it was made in pieces how was it fixed together?
Write a few sentences on how you think the object was made.
Function (What was it made for?)
What, where and why? What kind of person would have used it?
Do you think it would have had a practical use or was it just for pleasure?
Would it have been a fashionable item?
Would it have been of value to the people who used it?
Has the use changed over time?
Write a description of what you think it was made for.
Now turn over . . . .
Design (In what style was it made?)
Do you think it was well designed?
Answer the questions below and then think of how the design could be improved.
How well does it do the job it was intended for?
Why do you think the designers have used these materials?
Would there have been anything else to use at the time it was designed?
How has it been decorated?
What do you like about the way it looks?
How has the design changed over time?
How would you improve the design of this item?
Now draw a detailed diagram of the artefact and label all the interesting parts.
Once children have spent time discussing and handling artefacts it is always a good idea to get them to make sketches and detailed observational drawings.
Sketches can be annotated with notes, and when making observational drawings children often notice things they had previously missed. This often leads to more in depth discussion of the item, furthering their understanding.
Encourage them to practice this skill before they visit the Museum, using everyday objects e.g. a pencil, a flower pot, a school bag, an exercise book, a lunch box, etc. or more unusual items eg. a pestle and mortar, a rain stick, an old earthenware bed warmer.
Children should be encouraged to look at shape, texture, tone, shading etc.
When you visit the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, you may have the chance to draw some of the Egyptian artefacts that
you see or handle.
You don’t have to be great at drawing. . . . . . .
You just need to look very carefully and take your time!
Try practicing and have a go like this:
Find something to draw.
How about a chair, a mug or your school bag?
Put it in an unusual position.
Turn the chair upside down, or look at the mug from above or lie your bag down on your desk and sit on the floor so your eyes are at the level of your desk.
Now draw the shapes that you can see.
Only pencils are allowed - no rubbers!
How many ways can you find to bring out the shape with shading?
What sort of marks can you use to show different materials and textures?
(Adapted from A Teachers Guide to Learning from Objects by Gail Durbin, Susan Morris and Sue Wilkinson, published by English Heritage in 1990).
Artefacts and Archaeology
The next three activities aim to introduce children to different materials, many of which the Egyptians used in their everyday lives.
They also aim to help children understand why finds from Ancient times are often only tiny little bits and pieces of broken pottery and rusty metal, by showing them how materials decay and become damaged over time.
(All 3 activities are adapted from In the Nick of Time a practical guide to teaching about conservation of objects by Elizabeth Newbery and Sarah Fecher.)
1. What’s the Damage?
This activity aims to show pupils that all things change in different ways over time and for a variety of reasons.
It helps pupils to understand why special objects need to be protected and
You will need:
As many as possible of the following . . . . . .
(junk shops, staff rooms and jumble sales are often good sources) bear in mind Health and Safety when handling!
Something that has . . . . . been smashed or chipped (crockery, tiles) been scratched been torn
(a table top)
(paper, posters) been rubbed down or worn away (pattern on china, shoe heel) a missing part (toys, a shirt without a button) gone rusty flaking paint faded
(tin can, a garden tool)
(old painted wood)
(upholstery, old clothes)
been stained started to fall apart
(tablecloth, wooden spoon)
(worn clothing) been damaged by insects (clothes with moth holes,
frame with woodworm) mould on it (books or clothes stored in damp
Start by discussing what the children understand about decay and what it means.
Ask children to write down the signs of decay and damage that they can see in the various objects. They might find the list of words above helpful. Ask children if they can see damage more clearly using magnifying glasses – can they draw what they see?
Discuss with children what they think might have caused the damage.
Talk about why things need repairing and protecting.
Ask children to compare two objects of similar age , such as books, one of which is in good condition and one of which is in bad condition.
Point out that because things are in poor condition does not mean that they are older.
2. Getting Sorted
This activity involves children in sorting objects by materials . It encourages pupils to recognise that objects are created from different materials, that particular materials are used for a reason and that these materials may come from different sources.
You will need:
2 or 3 objects made of one material such as:
a kitchen spoon a key a napkin
2 or 3 objects made from several materials such as: an anglepoise lamp (metal, plastic, glass, felt underside) a trainer (plastic, leather, metal eyelets, textile laces
Ask children to list how many different materials they can see in the objects. They could record their findings with drawings, written descriptions or database use.
Ask children to sort objects into different material types – what is it about the materials that enables them to identify them?
Why do they think particular materials have been used for particular objects? What other objects are made from the same materials?
Talk about how materials are either made from plants and animals
(organic) or from rocks and minerals in the ground (inorganic).
Explain that some materials can be used in their natural state, such as marble or feathers, but that most raw materials are processed before they are used.
Explain that nowadays there are also many new materials which have been made with chemicals in laboratories. These are called synthetics .
Discuss the sources of the objects you have selected.
Explain that inorganic materials often last longer than the organic materials and why this is so.
3. Falling Apart
These activities explore the main factors that cause damage , and through simple experiments, encourage children to investigate how different materials react to these factors.
Start by talking about how factors such as heat, water, light and everyday use cause changes in materials and how different materials
react in different ways.
Explain that some of the experiments in this activity involve putting materials in extreme conditions so that changes can be seen in a short time, but that in reality the conditions may be almost unnoticeable and the changes may take place over a very long time .
3a. Touch Board experiment
You will need 2 samples each of different materials such as:
More durable fabric (cotton, canvas)
Papers of different thickness (newspaper, cardboard)
(cling film, washing up liquid bottle)
Wood (wooden spoon)
Delicate organic material (feather)
Secure one set of samples firmly to a board and place it in a prominent position at child height in the classroom with a sign inviting pupils to touch .
The longer the board is left up and the more pupils who touch the samples the better the results. Keep a control set of samples for reference. Ask children to compare the first set of samples with the control sample and make weekly reports on the differences.
It should show that touching objects damages them , but some more than others.
Remember to tell children to wash their hands after touching!
3b. Heat and Water Experiment
Put samples of various materials, such as blotting paper, wood, metal and plastic in warm conditions - above a radiator, in an oven or above a gently burning Bunsen burner.
Submerge similar samples in a bucket of water.
Ask children to describe any visible changes to the materials.
The objects can be weighed before and after the treatment and the differences recorded.
Children should find that differences in weight will be caused by materials absorbing and releasing water .
3c. Growing Mould
Mould spores can be inhaled and may trigger asthma attacks, so seal the specimens in polythene bags before showing the results to pupils).
You will need
3 drinking glasses
3 different sorts of organic material (paper, cotton, wood, bread)
Place your 3 organic material samples on the 3 saucers, all with a small amount of water in the saucer. Cover all 3 with drinking glasses. Wait for 4-
5 days. What has happened?
Mould has grown – and will grow almost anywhere with warmth and moisture – and causes damage to objects it grows on.
Attach a piece of card to a larger piece of coloured sugar paper. Pin the cards to a wall that received direct sunlight for as long as possible. Ask children to make reports on the difference between the sugar paper beneath the card and the rest of it. If you can, do the same with a piece of delicate fabric and see if you can rot the material.
Finally, you could try burying different materials outdoors in soil for a whole school year and seeing what happens to them.
Mark the location carefully! It helps if the soil is moist for some of the time.
Real Or Replica
Discuss the terms Real and Replica.
Compile a group definition for what the term replica actually means.
List any examples they may have at home or in school.
Play a quiz game in the style of ‘Spot the Difference’ with some real and replica items.
Discuss the difference between clues and real evidence.
Use the sheets to spark ideas.
Children are often fascinated by Egyptian Hieroglyphs . . . so do encourage their interest by trying out various activities with them in preparation for their visit to RAMM . . . .
Draw their own hieroglyphs
Write their name in hieroglyphs
Write a letter, or sentence or list in hieroglyphs
Try painting one really large painting of a hieroglyph
Try ‘carving’ hieroglyphs in stone ie. clay tablet that has nearly set
Do remind children that hieroglyphs could be written, painted on walls or carved into stone.
And also that scripts changed over time, and would have had regional variations.
When you visit RAMM, children will have the chance to study the hieroglyphs on the wall of ‘The Egyptian Tomb’ in the teacher led session run by school staff. The resources available on the day are included in this teachers pack in the fold er ‘Resources for your Visit’, so it may be worth familiarising children with these beforehand. They include . . .
They will also see hieroglyphs on the coffin and cartonnage of the Mummy Shepenmut and in the Evidence and Interpretation download.
Make your own!
Making your own replica artefacts is always fun!
You could do this before or after your visit . . . or you could do it before AND after and ask children to compare their work!
There are countless ways of doing this . . .
Eg. clay, plasticene, papier mache, plaster, junk . . .
. . . . The pictures included in this pack may be helpful to inspire imaginations beforehand or to jog memories after a visit to RAMM.
Who, What, Where, When and Why?
Ask children to gather information on one particular mummy to build up a fact file about the mummy and the life of the person before they died.
Information can be gathered from various sources eg. books, internet, museums, TV/Radio programmes, experts, etc.
It is important to remind children that often this sort of information is an
‘interpretation’ of the past, and can be open to discussion between the experts.
They could include information about . . .
Who . .
was this person - the persons name, their family?
What . . did the person do for a living, what was important to them,
what happened to their body after death?
Where . . did the person live, where were they were buried, where did
their mummy end up?
When . .
was the person was born, when did they died, when was their mummy was discovered, when was it taken to a museum?
Why . . were they mummified, why was it important to them?
Information on Shepenmut, the mummy on display at RAMM, can be used to gather this sort of information.
The ‘Storylines’ sheet can be used to sort out information. A similar sheet is also available in the resources folder.
Well they say that she was the daughter of Esamenopet
and that she was the Carrier of the Milk Jar.
Some say she was a Songstress to the God Amun-Re
And many believed she was a Priestess in the Temple of Thebes about
800 - 900 B.C., so no doubt a very busy women.
She must have made her way through the hot dusty streets of Thebes to the Temple of Amun-Re, King of the gods and the divine father of all
Egyptian Kings. You can just imagine her taking part in all those elaborate ceremonies and processions, making offerings to the Gods and singing with all the others in that huge temple!!
I guess you could say that Shepenmut was a pretty important woman really, especially since the Priesthood of Thebes had great authority over huge areas of Egypt at that time.
And anyway back in Ancient, ancient Egypt only the really important, wealthy people were wrapped in bandages.
Later on of course any old body could be mummified for a miserable handful of coins! All to do with the Pharoahs “losing their unique right to ascend to Heaven” or something!
She wasn’t that old when she died so they say, well middle age I suppose, in her mid fifties.
No-one seems to know if she ever married although as a priestess she could have if she had wanted to.
Shepenmut must have served in the temple for many a year though, so her death must have come as a great blow to her friends and colleagues. It must have been with great sorrow that her body was given into the care of the embalmers.
But at least she was well looked after in Death being mummified and beautifully preserved so that she could walk the Afterlife for all Eternity.
But at least she was well looked after in Death being mummified and beautifully preserved so that she could walk the Afterlife for all Eternity.
Mummification – The Process
Discuss the process with the children remembering to emphasize that, although practices changed over time, the purpose was to preserve the body believing that it would then be useful in the ‘Afterlife’.
Explain that it was a very complicated process, with many stages, involving skilled workers using various materials, and that it usually took around 70 days.
It is important to discuss the religious significance of various practices and the symbolic nature of the use of shabtis, amulets, paintings, etc.
Please refer to the download – ‘The Making of Shepenmut’ for details about how the mummy on display at RAMM is thought to have been preserved.
Gods and Goddesses
The Ancient Egyptians believed in many different Gods – poly-theism – each of which had different roles and responsibilities. Children will often take an active interest in their Gods, and storytelling will bring the characters to life.
There are lots of wonderful, if a little gory, stories about the exploits of the
Then ask children to re-tell the story, or illustrate it, or re-enact it.
Making masks of God heads is often an effective way of learning about the different appearances of the Gods, especially as many of them had animal heads.
Making connections between the Gods is also important, to show family bonds. This can sometimes be a little controversial however, due to the occurrence of marriages between siblings in the divine world.
Gods of particular significance, in order to prepare the children for a visit to
RAMM would include . . .
Jackal headed God of burial and mummy-making
God of Death and Rebirth
Mother goddess, wife of Osiris
Hawk headed Sky God, son of Isis & Osiris ) group
God of chaos, son of Isis & Osiris )
Cow headed goddess of motherly love and dancing, married to Horus
Cat goddess of protection for women and children
The 4 Sons of Horus: -
human - headed god looks after the liver
baboon - headed god looks after the lungs
Duamutef jackal - headed god
Qebehsenuef falcon - headed god looks after the stomach looks after the intestines
When you come to the museum, you will see all sorts of Egyptian artefacts.
Some of them are original (real) and some of them will be replica (copies).
If you have any special questions you would like to find out about when you visit, please write them here . . .
Keep this ready for the end of your visit . . .
. . . and see if you can answer them yourself by then!!
If not, try asking a friend or your teacher or someone in your family . . .
. . . perhaps they will know the answers?!
Or, maybe the staff at the museum will know the answers!
But if you’re still really stuck, you could always write in to the Museum (or ask your teacher to send in this sheet) to see if they can help!
Please send to: The Museum Learning Office
The Royal Albert Memorial Museum