The Pharaoh’s Secret
Connecting to Ancient Egypt Through Books
Ancient Egypt seems to hold an enduring fascination for many children. Perhaps because it seems so exotic, it is usually easy to get the kids excited about learning about ancient civilizations. Stories are a wonderful way to bring faraway places closer. The Pharaoh’s Secret by Marissa Moss does just that. Through the magic of historical fiction, it brings two modern children back in time to the time of Hatshepsut. Packed with action and rich with historical facts this book is a perfect companion to an Ancient Egypt Unit Study.
Guided Reading Level: U; Lexile® Measure 770L to 1080L; DRA Level:50; Grade Level 5, Ages 9-12
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The Pharaoh’s Secret by Marissa Moss Activities
Filled with intrigue and surprises, The Pharaoh’s Secret includes Marissa Moss’s original illustrations throughout. The novel skillfully weaves history with a personal story full of heartache and family tensions that will entice and enthrall readers.
When Talibah and her younger brother, Adom, accompany their father, an academic, to his homeland of modern Egypt on his research assignment, they become involved in a mystery surrounding an ancient, lost pharaoh-a rare queen ruler. Someone has tried to wipe her from the official record, to make it appear as if she never existed! She needs Talibah to help her and her high priest, Senenmut, reclaim their rightful place in history. Exotic locales, mysterious strangers, and a sinister archaeologist round out an adventure that is full of riddles, old tales, and, most surprisingly of all, a link to Talibah’s and Adom’s mother, who died mysteriously.
Companion Ancient Egypt activities for The Pharaoh’s Secret
- Have the students figure out what their names would be in Hieroglyphics. They can write hieroglyphic notes to each other and decode what they mean with a Hieroglyphic Typewriter.
Sports were important to the ancient Egyptians. Have the kids research what sports were popular in Ancient Egypt. Then have them write or draw about what they learned.
Have an Ancient Egypt sports day: tug of war, pass the hoop, etc.
Research Ancient food. What would it be like to dine like a Pharaoh? Make one of the recipes. We made Basbousa and the kids thought it was delicious.
- Ancient Egyptians used papyrus to make paper. Here is an easy method to make your own version of papyrus paper.
- Make a Cartouche or a Pharaoh’s headdress. Here is a fun list of Ancient Egyptian crafts.
- Have a pyramid STEM challenge. Kids can make origami pyramids, use clay blocks or sugar cubes, or you have a lot of patience, make one out of toothpicks.
- Egyptians loved board games. After the students have learned a bit about the board games, they can play them! We found some fun printable versions:
- Senet- We made our own game with a printable game board, markers and Popsicle sticks. -the original rules of Senet (the game of passing) are unknown, no record of the rules has ever been discovered. But through imagery found on ancient tomb walls and actual Senet artifacts found through excavation, some have attempted to reconstruct the rules. (You can find the game at the bottom of the teacher's guide.)
- Mehen is also known as the Game of the Snake, references the snake god of the same name. Evidence of Mehen dates back as early as 3,000 B.C. The board is circular and it is a snake curled around itself divided into rectangular spaces, with the head of the snake at the center. You can print the game and give it a try!
Test your knowledge! Play a trivia game about Ancient Egypt.
Looking for more Ancient Egypt activities, chapter discussion questions, vocabulary, and key standards?
Download our Teacher’s Resource Guide for The Pharaoh’s Secret.
Book Lesson Plans and Activities
- The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster – Children can relate to the doldrums of boredom and the idea of being magically transported to a land with wacky characters and delectable words was enchanting.
- The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett tells an inspirational tale of transformation and empowerment. Mary of The Secret Garden is a character that has sparked the imagination of children for decades and served as an example of resilience and spunk.
- Amelia’s Notebooks by Marissa Moss follows Amelia from elementary school to middle school. As Amelia grows we can relate to her growing pains, which are always written about with humor and insight.
- The Indian and the Cupboard Lesson and Activities by Lynn Reid Banks – The book is rich with concepts and topics to discuss from magic to history to friendship and this book will enthrall even the most reluctant reader.
- Wilcox and Griswold Mystery: The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman – Full of jokes and lively illustrations this book is a wonderful beginning chapter book and it is sure to entice reluctant readers.
- How to be Human; Diary of an Autistic Girl by Florida Frenz (AKA Georgia Lyon) – The lessons in this guide are a roadmap to a treasure trove of social skills activities that we have used for years in our work with children on the autism spectrum.