By Andrew Clements
Students will engage in a 5 day read-aloud exercise designed to be co-taught by the classroom teacher and the art teacher. While there are many picture books available within the Egyptian theme, vocabulary, ideas and traditions are best understood with some guidance. The read-aloud methods will allow students to explore this topic in a structured setting, while practicing comprehension, fluency, inference and vocabulary. All read-aloud methods in this lesson are presented by Strickland (2010). Dickenson (2001) states, “Research has demonstrated that the most effective read-alouds are those in which children are actively involved asking and answering questions and making predictions rather than passively listening” (as cited by Strickland, 2010, p. 10). The interactive read aloud will connect fiction and nonfiction titles to a social studies unit on ancient Egypt.
Students will examine and identify the Egyptian culture by
-listening and participating in class read-aloud methods.
-looking for evidence within the text to answer questions thoughtfully.
-researching ideas, traditions, and beliefs through provided texts.
-Temple Cat by Andrew Clements
-In the Daily Life of the Ancient Egyptians by Henrietta McCall
– Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphics by James Rumford
-Suggested reading list (included below)
-Interactive word wall (included below)
-Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphics
-Hieroglyphic Decipher Sheet.
MONDAY: Temple Cat Read Aloud Introduction
Vocabulary to Highlight: temple (cover), ancient (p. 5), sacred (p.7), crimson (p.13), prowl (p. 15), and wisp (p. 19)
Introduction: We will take some time to introduce the first book in our unit on Ancient Egypt to our second grade students. Strickland (2010) states, “because young children are not likely to focus on the story problem, we craft book introductions to make the problem explicit” (p. 12). We will start the read-aloud with the following script:
In this story, we are going to learn about a special cat from Ancient Egypt. The cat is a god to the people of Egypt, but the temple cat does not care about being a god. The cat wishes he could do regular cat things. The cat wishes he could live outside of the gates of the temple and have fun, but the temple guards and servants wont let her. The cat does not look happy on the cover, does he? Sometimes when we don’t have what we really want or need, we can be left unhappy like the cat. Although, when I look at the back cover of the book, the cat looks very happy; I wonder what happens in the book that makes temple cat so happy.
As we introduce the problem of the book, we will show the students the front cover and the back cover of the book, as well as the cover page, which depicts an ancient statue of an Egyptian cat.
Why was the cat living in the temple?
Why did the cat want to leave the temple?
What did the temple cat enjoy about exploring beyond the temple walls?
TUESDAY: In the Daily Life of Ancient Egyptians
Introductions: On the wall have a special place designated for a Word Wall. Hanging on the word wall, have the vocabulary words from Temple Cat already written. Throughout this reading, we will be hearing new words, or words that are important to ancient Egyptian culture. When you hear a word that sounds new to you, or may seem important, raise your hand. We will add this word to the word wall using the index cards and the markers. When you are done, please return to the rug, as we will continue reading.
Interactive Word Wall: The purpose of this activity is to expand the vocabulary of the students guided by the social studies curriculum. This activity will be similar to a Text Talk, described by Strickland (2010) on page 24, “Text talk, developed by Beck and McKeown and their colleagues is a read-aloud strategy that focuses on vocabulary development.” Like a Text Talk, deep learning of the vocabulary words is the focus on the lesson, but the interactive word wall will address the new words throughout the book, instead of after the book is completed.
Desert- An ecosystem where it hardly ever rains. The Nile River was an important water source for the Egyptians.
Tunic- A very long shirt worn by both men and women.
Shendyt- A skirt worn by servants who worked in the field or on boats.
Kalasiris- A long simple dress worn by women.
Barter- Trading special items, instead of using money.
Hieroglyphics- Ancient writing used for religious writings.
Pharaoh- An Egyptian King
Pyramid- A special building made to honor a king after he dies.
Mummy- Bodies that were wrapped in long strips of cloth.
Sarcophagus- A special, beautiful case for the mummy to be stored in.
Ceremony- A fancy event for a special occasion
Follow-up: Students will gather in groups of 4, and create a skit based in ancient Egypt using 4 of the vocabulary words in context. The skits should be short. Students will perform the skits for each other.
Students can use the word wall as they work independently. If a student finds a new word that is specific to ancient Egypt, they can add the word and definition to the growing word wall.
WEDNESDAY: Temple Cat Second Interactive Read Aloud
Introduction: Remember, we read this book on Monday. This is about the cat who lives in the temple as a god with servants who do everything for it. Does anyone remember why the cat wants to leave the temple? What happened when the cat escaped?
Think-Aloud: A second read aloud of Temple Cat will take place. Strickland (2010) states that, “the purpose [of a second read aloud] is to enrich the children’s comprehension of the story and provide further opportunities for children to engage in analytic talk” (p. 14). This reading will be done as an interactive think-aloud. Throughout the book the reader will stop to analyze the text, ask questions, decode words and reference pictures. Students can participate by adding new words to our ancient Egypt Word Wall and by searching for word wall words within our text and examples of the word wall words in the illustrations. The following are some examples of think-aloud statements used by the reader:
Page 5: What is a temple again? I wonder if the cat has a bedroom in the temple, or if he has to live in the big open rooms.
Page 6: The servants are wearing beautiful clothes and jewelry. They must be considered special servants. I wonder why these special servants would care for a cat.
Page 7: I don’t know what a sacred fire is. Can someone remember what sacred means? A sacred fire must be a special symbol for the cat they call a god.
Page 8: The temple paintings on the wall behind the cat tell story of the servants worshiping the cat, just like the story in the book is talking about!
Page 12: Wow, the servants are wearing tunics, just like we read about yesterday in In The Daily Life of Ancient Egyptians!
Page 13: What, again makes the pillow crimson?
Page 15: What is prowl again? Why would having a light and fan ruin the fun of a prowl?
Page 19: I wonder what it would actually look like to escape like a wisp of smoke.
Page 23: Decode the word cautiously. That word must mean carefully by the way it is used in the book, and by the way the cat is crouching in the picture.
Page 27: I wonder why the cat likes to roam free and beg for food more than living in the temple.
Page 31: The cat must want to have a simple life of roaming free, because he looks happy, and the it says right here that his wish came true. He must not want to be a god at all.
Why don’t you think that the cat liked living in the temple?
Which life would you rather live, living in a temple with servants who wait on you hand and foot but no freedom, or being free to do what you want and having to take care of yourself?
THURSDAY: Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphics Dialogic Reading
Introduction: Take a look at the title of this book. Does anyone see a vocabulary word in the title? Who remembers what that word means? To decipher something means to unscramble a code or solve a problem. Knowing that, can anyone guess what this book might be about?
Dialogic Reading: Dialogic Reading is a research-based read-aloud method that engages the students in the book, by prompting the student with high-level thinking questions. De Temple and Snow (2003) state, “Dialogic reading is based on three principles: (a) encouraging the child to become an active learner during book reading, (b)providing feedback that models more sophisticated language and (c) challenging the child’s knowledge and skills by raising the complexity of the conversation to a level just above his current ability” (as cited in Strickland, 2010, p. 23). The following are questions to use throughout and after the book reading.
When an Englishman discovered letters in the hieroglyphics, Jean-Francois thought…
We know that the people of France were proud of Jean-Francois’ discoveries because…
What made Jean-Francois want to decipher hieroglyphics?
What helped Jean-Francois discover that symbols were used for sounds and syllables?
Do you think it was a good idea for the scholars to turn Jean-Francois away? Why or why not?
Why did Jean-Francois work so hard to decipher hieroglyphics?
Do you think Jean-Francois deciphered the hieroglyphics correctly? How can we know?
Distancing: You find a new code or language. What steps might you take to decipher the new code?
Follow-up: As a follow-up activity, students will return to the book by using the document camera, and create a code based on the hieroglyphics explained in the book. Additional keys will be passed out. On butcher paper that has been taped to the wall, students will write their own name, as well as a word from the word wall in hieroglyphics. The paper will stay up throughout the unit, and students may add words or sentences from their readings in their free time.
FRIDAY: Temple Cat Third Interactive Read-Aloud
Introduction: We’ve read this book twice this week. Can someone tell me what the title of this book is? Why, do you think, the book has this title? Look at the illustrations on the cover. Can anyone share with us what the cat’s problem is in this story? How does he solve his problem?
Reconstruction: In this exercise, the reader will prompt the students to retell small parts of the story, while the story is being told. Strickland (2010) describes the activity, “we use two general prompts in guiding reconstruction of texts. Before reading some pages of the story, we point to the illustration and ask, ‘What’s happening here?’ We use this prompt as we show a double-spread illustration. Sometimes we use the second question, ‘Do you remember what will happen next?’ before turning to the next illustration” (p. 15).
Page 5: Before we begin, what do we see behind the cat? Hieroglyphics. How do we know? Can someone describe what an ancient temple is?
Page 7: What’s happening here?
Page 15: What’s happening here?
Page 17: Do you remember what will happen next?
Page 19: What does it look like to slip out like a wisp of smoke again?
Page 23: What’s happening here?
Page 25: Do you remember what will happen next?
Page 26: How do we know that the servant on this page works very hard?
Page 29: Do you remember what will happen next?
Students will return to their seats and choose one of the following questions to journal about.
What do you think the temple cat will do next?
Will he return to the temple?
What do you think happened to the people in Neba if he does not return to the temple?
Aliki. (1985). Mummies made in Egypt. New York, NY: Harper Collins (Original work published 1979).
Clements, A. (1996). Temple cat. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cole, J. (2001). Ms. Frizzles adventures: ancient Egypt. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.dePaola, T. (1987). Bill and Pete go down the nile. New York, NY: PaperStar Books
Fisher, L.F. (1999). The gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt. New York, NY: Holiday House. (Original work published 1997).
Gibbons, G. (2004). Mummies, pyramids, and pharaohs: a book about ancient Egypt. Boston, MA: Little Brown Books for Young Readers.
Hodge, S. (1998). Ancient Egyptian art. Des Plaines, IL: Heinemann Interactive Library.
Jovinelly, J. & Netelkos, J. (2002). The crafts and culture of the ancient Egyptians. New York, NY: Rosen Publishing Group, Inc.
McCall, H. (2002). In the daily life of the ancient Egyptians. Worthington, OH, Brighter Child Publishing (Original work published 2001)
Morley, J. (1999). Egyptian myths. New York, NY: Peter Bedrick Books.
Osborne, M.P. (1993). Mummies in the morning: the magic treehouse #3. New York, NY: Random House Publishing
Pennypacker, S. (2009). Flat Stanley, the great Egyptian grave robbery. New York, NY: Harper Colllins.
Rumford, J. (2000). Seeker of knowledge: the man who deciphered Egyptian hieroglyphs. Boston, MA: HMH Books.
Schachner, J. B. (2006). Skippyjon jones in mummy trouble. New York, NY: Penguin Group.
Wallace-Jones. S. (2007). Miu and the pharaoh. Twickenham, UK: Athena Press.
Strickland, D. S. (2010). Essential readings on early literacy. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.