Making Connections through Literature Ancient Egypt and Queen Hatshepsut

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Ancient Egypt and Queen Hatshepsut Sixth Grade Standards

History-Social Studies

6.2 Students analyze the geographic, political, economic, religious, and social structures of the early civilizations of Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Kush.

6.2, 7. Understand the significance of Queen Hatshepsut and Ramses the Great.

(For purposes of this lesson, only Queen Hatshepsut has been selected.)

Reading-Language Arts

3.2 Analyze the effect of the qualities of the character (e.g. courage or cowardice, ambition or laziness) on the plot and resolution of the conflict.

3.3 Analyze the influence of setting on the problem and its resolution.

The story of Cinderella is well-known by students. It seems that there is a "Cinderella" in one form or another in many (if not most) cultures. I have been using Cinderella stories in classes as examples of ways to develop skills in compare and contrast features in stories, with the focus on setting. It is interesting to students to discover how cultures and cultural features emerge from the illustrations/settings, as well as from the characters and details in the plots. Although I may not agree with the premise of Cinderella from a feminist point of view, I find that the cultural, historical, and qualities of character aspects that emerge through the telling of various stories to be intriguing, engaging and worthwhile.

The Egyptian Cinderella authored by Shirley Climo and illustrated by Ruth Heller provides a starting point, or anticipatory set, for the study of women in ancient Egypt, and perhaps a segue into a study of ancient Greece. Climo notes that there was actually a Greek slave girl, Rhodopis, who married Pharaoh Amasis and became his queen. She also notes in the author's notes at the end of the book that the "tale of Rhodopis and the rose-red slippers is one of the world's oldest Cinderella stories. It was first recorded by the Roman historian Strabo in the first century B.C."

Lesson Development

* Read the story: The Egyptian Cinderella.

Listening Comprehension/Whole group or literature circle

* Discuss the character of Rhodopis. Why was she different than the other Egyptian servant girls? Why did she feel she needed to do the bidding of the servants? Who/what became her friends? What would you say about Rhodopis' character? (i.e.coward or courageous?) In what ways could her role as a slave shape her character (privately or for the world to see?) Support your ideas through examples. What would you say about the Pharoah's character?

Discussion Extensions

* Look carefully at the illustrations. What do you see that you probably would not see today? Does this give us some clues about what ancient Egypt might have been like?

* Setting can mean a place, but it can also mean a place in time. Talk about the setting of this story. What is the illustrator showing us about Egypt at that time? Did the setting have an influence on the problem and solution? What was the problem? What was the solution?

* Vocabulary words/names you might want to draw attention to:

Pharaoh

Nile

rushes

Memphis

Ra the Sun

A great falcon, the symbol of the god Horus

* Make connections to historical women in ancient Egypt

The sixth grade standards list Queen Hatchepsut as a woman worth studying in ancient Egypt. Research about Hatchepsut revealed that she was either clever or manipulative (evil?), depending upon the writer's point of view. Therefore, she would be an interesting person for students to research and to analyze. Her character could provide an interesting discussion/ debate. Compare her character to Cinderella.

Going online to do research about ancient Egypt may reveal to students more than you want them to discover and discuss in school. You will want to check them out and give students choice of sites you have selected. I found an interesting article about Women in Ancient Egypt by James C. …