Ancient Egypt – Planning Overview

Written by Dan

Last updated

Catch the Nile fever and discover a world that unlocked the secrets of ancient cultures. With this planning overview, you can guide your students on an educational journey through Ancient Egypt.

By delving into the mystique of its society, learning about gods and goddesses, hieroglyphs and art, mummies and tombs — all with hands-on activities – students gain insights into foreign people in awe-inspiring destinations around the globe. So explore with your class as they venture back in time!

Related: For more, check out our planning overview of The Shang Dynasty  here.

Ancient Egypt timeline

How To Teach About Ancient Egypt In School

The National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies (NCSS) provides a robust framework that can be leveraged to create an engaging and comprehensive strategy for teaching the history and culture of Ancient Egypt in schools1.

Start your strategy by understanding the guidelines and standards set by NCSS. These standards articulate broad themes that should be covered in a social studies program, and they can provide a roadmap for integrating Ancient Egyptian history and culture into your curriculum2.

For example, one of the ten themes outlined in the NCSS standards is “Time, Continuity, and Change”2. This can be directly applied to studying Ancient Egypt, where students can explore how this civilization developed over time, the continuity of certain cultural practices, and the changes that ultimately led to its decline.

To ensure that your lesson plan is adaptable and engaging, consider including various topics covering different aspects of Ancient Egyptian culture.

This could include the geography of Ancient Egypt, the rule of pharaohs and their dynasties, their unique art and architecture, religion and mythology, daily life, agriculture and trade, scientific innovations, and the decline of Ancient Egypt.

To promote critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork, plan educational and interactive activities. For instance, students could work in groups to build pyramids using common materials, which would help them understand the architectural prowess of Ancient Egyptians.

They could also create hieroglyphic messages to learn about Ancient Egyptian writing systems or write news articles from the perspective of Ancient Egyptians to gain insight into their daily lives.

Remember, the goal is to impart knowledge and foster skills like critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration. Activities encouraging these skills will make learning more meaningful and fun for the students.

As an educational consultant, you can suggest resources such as documentaries, books, and online articles that teachers can use to supplement their lessons.

For instance, the Department of Education lists nationally-developed standards and guidelines focusing on social studies disciplines3.

Finally, it’s important to establish clear guidelines for assessing students’ understanding. This could be in the form of quizzes, essays, or short presentations.

The key is to ensure that these assessments align with the learning objectives and give teachers a clear picture of each student’s understanding of the topic.

By aligning your teaching strategy with established curriculum standards, creating engaging lesson plans, promoting critical thinking through interactive activities, and providing clear assessment guidelines, you can create a comprehensive strategy for teaching Ancient Egyptian history and culture in schools.


  1. National Curriculum Standards for Social Studies
  2. Expectations of Excellence CURRICULUM STANDARDS 2
  3. National Social Studies Standards | Department of Education

Key Facts from Ancient Egyptian History

  1. The Egyptians believed in many gods and goddesses representing different elements of nature, such as the sun god Ra, the cat goddess Bastet, and the crocodile god Sobek.
  2. The Great Pyramid at Giza is believed to have been built during the reign of Pharaoh Khufu around 2550 BCE.
  3. The Egyptians developed a written language called hieroglyphics, made up of hundreds of symbols which have since been deciphered in modern times.
  4. Pharaohs were considered living gods by their people and surrounded themselves with immense wealth and luxurious items such as jewellery, chariots, and works of art.
  5. Everyday life in ancient Egypt revolved around agriculture along the Nile River, with most citizens working as farmers or fishermen. At the same time, wealthy nobles could devote more time to leisure activities such as music, dance, hunting, fishing, board games and more.
  6. Ancient Egypt saw several periods of foreign occupation by powers such as the Assyrians, Nubians, and Persians before becoming part of Alexander the Great’s empire after he died in 323 BCE.
  7. After a brief period under Roman rule from 30 BCE – 642 CE, Ancient Egypt became part of Islamic civilisation until it was taken over by European powers in 1798 CE.
  8. The Egyptian Empire was eventually dissolved into British-controlled Sudan after WWI leaving only a few isolated pockets of indigenous culture that remain today, such as Al-Azhar University in Cairo (founded 970 CE ).

Key Aspects Of Ancient Egyptian Culture

  1. Religion: Egyptians believed in polytheism (worshipping multiple deities), which manifested through elaborate rituals conducted by priests at temples across the nation, including animal sacrifices, processions, festivals, oracles, chants and more.
  2. Art: The ancient Egyptians produced some incredible works, including temple reliefs depicting battles or myths, sculptures crafted from stone or metalworking, intricate paintings on tomb walls or papyrus scrolls, jewellery modelled after symbols found on everyday artefacts (like lotus blossoms), and two-dimensional ink drawings found on tombs or papyrus scrolls.
  3. Music & Dance: Music & dance were essential parts of daily life for ancient Egyptians, with instruments like drums, harps, lutes & flutes often played accompanied by singers or dancers performing intricate choreography based upon stories told through famous plays. These performances often featured colourful costumes & masks, with performers wearing accessories like bells tied around their ankles to add rhythmical accents.
  4. Astronomy: The Egyptians had sophisticated knowledge about astronomy, which they used to track stars, constellations, seasonal cycles & religious events such as eclipses – they even calculated 365 ¼ days per year based on Sirius’ annual reappearance near dawn (which would become our modern-day calendar). This knowledge enabled them to predict floods each year, which helped them plan for planting crops or building projects near waterways like dams.
  5. Mathematics: Egyptians knew how to use basic math concepts, multiply, divide, fractions, use geometry, measure angles, lengths, radii etc … They used these skills to build pyramids, advance irrigation systems, calculate taxes, evaluate food supplies etc.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the geographic location, key cities, and monuments of Ancient Egypt.
  2. Describe the political structure and explain how Pharaohs held power in Ancient Egyptian society.
  3. Explain hieroglyphs’ cultural significance and purpose and define their basic meanings and symbols.
  4. Identify significant figures from Ancient Egyptian history (e.g., Tutankhamun, Hatshepsut, Ramses II).
  5. Analyse artworks from the period, including paintings, sculptures and relief works.
  6. Compare and contrast religious practices in ancient Egypt to other historically significant belief systems (e.g., Greek mythology).
  7. Discuss how artistic expression conveyed political messages through propaganda writing or image-making techniques, such as hieroglyphs on monuments or statues depicting Pharaohs in heroic poses with exaggerated features.
  8. Analyse historical documents such as the Rosetta Stone or other primary sources to reach conclusions about life in past societies, such as Ancient Egypt’s social hierarchy or economy.
  9. Assess the contributions of ancient Egyptians to modern science and technology, such as their use of mathematics to plan building projects like pyramids.
  10. Examine evidence of daily life in ancient Egypt by analysing artefacts found in tombs or archaeological sites.
  11. Evaluate archaeological methods for reconstructing cultures based on material remains.
  12. Contrast ideas about ancient Egyptian death rituals with modern-day ceremonies.
  13. Explore how legends created a sense of national identity in Ancient Egypt.
  14. Investigate trade networks between different regional powers centred around the Mediterranean Sea.
  15. Explain why some aspects of Antiquity – like Classical Greek architecture – have persisted throughout European history.

Lesson 1: Journey into the Past

A Deep Dive into Ancient Egypt’s Geography and Political Structure


  1. Explore the intricate geography of Ancient Egypt, delving deep into its key cities and iconic monuments, and understanding how these physical features influenced the culture and livelihood of the ancient civilization.
  2. Unravel the complex political structure of Ancient Egypt, focusing on the supreme power of Pharaohs, their roles, responsibilities, and how they maintained control over the civilization.


  1. Visual Learning through Video Content: Start your journey into Ancient Egypt with a comprehensive video that provides a 360-degree view of the civilization’s geographical and political landscape. This dynamic visual content will explain and show the vast deserts, fertile Nile valley, monumental pyramids, bustling cities, and the life of powerful Pharaohs. This immersive experience will transport you back in time, providing a first-hand experience of what life was like in Ancient Egypt.
  2. Interactive Group Discussion: Following the video, participate in an engaging group discussion facilitated by the instructor. This is your platform to ask questions, share observations, and discuss ideas about ancient Egyptian politics or geography. The aim here is not just to understand but to analyze and critically consider how geography influenced politics and vice versa. This will be a great opportunity to learn from each other’s perspectives.
  3. Hands-on Activity – Timeline or Map Creation: Now, it’s time to implement your understanding. Based on what you’ve learned so far, create an illustrated timeline or map highlighting key moments in Ancient Egyptian history, specifically those that relate to its political structure or geographic boundaries. This activity will empower you to visually represent the correlation between time, geography, and politics in Ancient Egypt. You can use various colors, symbols, and labels to make your timeline or map more detailed and informative.


Your understanding of Ancient Egypt’s geography and politics will be evaluated holistically. Rather than relying solely on rote learning, the assessment will focus on your active participation in class discussions and the depth of your understanding as demonstrated in your timeline or map.

The accuracy, creativity, and comprehensiveness of your timeline or map and the insights you share during discussions will all contribute to your final assessment. Remember, education is not a one-way street but a shared journey of discovery. So, let’s embark on this intriguing expedition into the heart of Ancient Egypt!

Lesson 2: Religion & Art of Ancient Egypt


  • Identify significant gods and goddesses in ancient Egyptian religion and explain their associated symbols and myths.
  • Analyse artworks from the period, including paintings, sculptures and relief work.


  • Introduce students to significant gods and goddesses from ancient Egyptian mythology, including their associated symbols, stories, or roles in society.
  • View examples of sculptures or wall reliefs depicting these gods/goddesses while discussing possible meanings behind specific images or symbols used in the artwork.
  • Have students create original paintings based on themes from stories related to these gods/goddesses (e.g., Ra’s boat navigating through chaos).


  • Students will be assessed on their knowledge of significant gods/goddesses and their ability to interpret artwork in terms of symbolism and meaning within ancient Egyptian culture.

Lesson 3: Daily Life & Trade Networks In Ancient Egypt


  • Assess the evidence for daily life in ancient Egypt by analysing artefacts in tombs and archaeological sites.
  • Contrast ideas about death rituals with modern-day ceremonies.
  • Examine trade networks between different regional powers centred on the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Explain why some aspects of Antiquity, like Classical Greek architecture, have persisted throughout European history.


  • Have students view primary sources such as papyrus scrolls and tomb walls of mummified bodies and discuss implications for daily life.
  • Guide class discussion reflects how death rituals have changed modern times.
  • Present simulations role-play activities which require them to consider trade relationships between Egyptians and other civilisations.
  • Investigate archaeological investigations that have informed the reconstruction of past civilisations like Greece and Rome.
  • Debate why certain architectural styles remained popular in Europe almost three millennia after they conceived of Egyptian culture.      


Students will evaluate basic knowledge applications concerning artefact depictions, religious practices, trade networks, elements of Classical Greek architecture ongoing debate concerning the purpose existence of certain archaeological remains.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key topics to cover when studying the Anglo-Saxon period?

Key topics for study include political structures like Heptarchy and Alfred; religion, including elements from Christianity and Pagan beliefs; social organisation among tribes and kingdoms; language and literature; art styles and artefacts; military strategies used by different groups to defend or attack their territories.

How can I explore the culture through primary sources?

Primary sources can be accessed through archaeological evidence (e.g., jewellery, coins, manuscripts) and texts written during this period (e.g., Beowulf). Visiting local museums or historical sites can also provide valuable insight into life during this period.

How do I teach students to analyse historical documents?

An excellent way to help students analyse historical documents is to have them practice critical thinking skills such as questioning, inference-making, and connecting ideas from multiple sources to form conclusions about particular periods in history. Additionally, providing students access to activities like debates, designing museum displays or writing reflective essays can help them further develop their analysis abilities.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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