Thursday, September 15, 2011

Lesson 2: Egyptian Art

It's the second week of art history lesson plans for kids! This week I put together 2 lessons, one for the 6 year old and one for the 8 and 11 year olds. I like to break them up when possible so they get individual attention. I think the 6 year old could have done with a little less info about Hieroglyphics, but she did great with her project. Here are the lessons.
Egyptian Hieroglyphics
age- 6
print out of the Hieroglyphic Alphabet Chart found here: (or use another of your choice. There are lots online.)
print out pictures of actual hieroglyphics or internet access to look at them
drawing paper
crayons, markers, or other drawing material

1- Hieroglyphics are an ancient Egyptian way of writing. Get the students to repeat the word after you. (Find Egypt on a globe or map if you like) Look at some actual Hieroglyphics. Google it or try these sites:
2- Where do we find Hieroglyphics?
On things that Egyptians decorated such as cosmetic palettes (like the palette of Narmer), pottery, and labels in tombs. 
3- How do Hieroglyphics work?
When this system first started each picture represented an actual object. Later, some of the pictures started to represent different ideas. For example instead of a picture of the sun just meaning sun it could mean light, warmth, etc. Then, pictures started to represent the sound of that word.
Here is an example:
hi there

4- How are Hieroglyphics read?

Egyptian writing can be read left to right, right to left and stacked.
Sound confusing?
There is an easy rule to remember in reading. Which ever way the animals or human characters are facing you read backward from there.
When the characters are stacked you read the top first. 
Here are some examples:

This says temples and reads from left to right.

This says ancient Egypt and reads from right to left

This says Cleopatra and is stacked. 
5- View the Hieroglyph Chart. Talk about what the symbols look like. 
Have the student choose a word or phrase to write out with Hieroglyphics and which direction to use- left to right, right to left, or stacked. Remember to turn the animals the right direction depending on the direction you want it to be read. Use markers or crayons to draw out the symbols. The student can also add a decorative border if desired. My student wrote out her name and then added some of the other Hieroglyphs that she liked. It might help with young students to write out the word they are going to be doing on a scrap of paper and have them cross out each letter as they draw the symbol or have them write out the English letters and place the Hieroglyphs above them.

6- Place Egyptian Hieroglyphics on the timeline. (3000 B.C.)
aside from the links already given, information in this lesson came from Wikipedia and these websites:
* The websites above offer enough info that this lesson could easily be adapted for even the oldest students, by teaching more in depth about Hieroglyphics and even letting them explore the websites a bit themselves. Try having them create their own hieroglyphic alphabet.
Egyptian Drawing
ages- 8 and 11
picture of Egyptian figures in color- I’m using the images found on this page:
drawing paper
1- Egyptian artists used a particular style to draw people. Here are some of the drawing rules they followed. Go over these and demonstrate with your body what they look like or have the students try to imitate the body position themselves.
The body faces front while the head faces profile.
The eye also faces front
legs are turned to the same side as the head with one foot in front of the other.
more important people are drawn bigger than less important people
no shading or perspective
people were portrayed as youthful
men’s skin was red and women’s skin was yellow
2- View some examples of Egyptian art and look for the Egyptian art rules in action.
If desired you can also discuss other things seen in the artwork you are looking at, such as:
What is the subject of the picture?
Are there any hieroglyphics?
3- Assignment-
Draw a person in the Egyptian style.  Use markers and try to follow the Egyptian rules. You could also have the students add hieroglyphics in their picture using the chart from the previous lesson.

Older kids- The Palette of Narmer is a great piece of Egyptian art for study. There is a Wikipedia page about it and it breaks down all the different symbols seen on the palette. Older students could learn about the symbolism on the palette as well as the Egyptian drawing rules and then create their own drawing or palette design.

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