Welcome to Memory Lane!
I wanted to share one of my all time favorites from sixth grade – Mummifying a Chicken!
This past week I attended the Get Your Teach On in San Diego and the big message throughout the conference was about giving your students an experience when they come to school. I was really energized to come up with new and exciting ways to give my students an experience they won’t forget. But at the same time, it made me feel good that I have done that in the past for my kiddos too!
When I taught Ancient Egypt one of the highlights was learning about the mummification process. Every year, I would head to the store and by the oldest, driest chicken with about 6-8 packages of salt. I always got some funny looks from the checkout person until I explained what I was doing. As we studied all the facets of Ancient Egypt, we mummified a uncooked chicken in the classroom. At first, we had to change the salt every few days and then after a few weeks, it was less frequent. Students would take turns changing the salt and usually that was a highly coveted job.
The culminating activity was done over two days. When the chicken was dried out, we would wrap the chicken in strips torn from a white sheet. I used a lacquer that would help seal the chicken and gave an authentic browning to the white sheet strips. Students would bring in toy amulets that we would also wrap into the strips.
On the next day, my students and I would dress in white sheets as togas with cartouches and Usekh collars that we made in class. I had a broken stool that I made as a carrier for the mummified chicken. Our burial procession transported the chicken from our room to the library where we put it on display for a week or two. In the display case, we had artifacts and information cards, that students created, about the process of mummification and Ancient Egyptian ways of life.
Now making an experience does take a few dollars. Luckily, I had inherited some of my white sheets for togas and after the second year, I had a class set. I also used the same sheets for when we did Greece and Rome. So my investment was worth it. The cost of the chicken and salt was minimal, around $30 a year. I asked students to bring amulets because they always seemed to have little toy jewels around their house with younger brothers and sisters.
My students loved mummifying the chicken. It was a real experience! I think that is what makes learning come alive for the students. They could read about the process, but actually doing it, is a whole different thing!
If you have any questions about what I did with my students, feel free to contact me. Thanks for stopping by and checking out my blog. Next week, I will be taking about what is going on in Room B5 – summer edition!