The Old Kingdom
- The important things to cover in the Old Kingdom are the unification of Egypt, the building of the pyramids and the development of Nile agriculture. Egypt started as two different kingdoms and was unified into one by the semimythical pharaoh Narmer. During this period, pharaohs were viewed as god-kings who insured the natural cycles the Egyptians needed to survive and built great monuments to honor themselves after death. You can spend a good amount of time on the development of pyramid construction. The other major innovation to cover in the Old Kingdom is season agriculture based on the flooding cycles of the Nile. Talk about the basic class structure of Egyptian society, which stayed relatively unchanged throughout Egyptian history. Because this lesson is the beginning of the unit, it might also be good to start by talking about Egyptian creation myths.
The Middle Kingdom
- While agriculture is the important focus for the Old Kingdom, warfare and trade were more important in the Middle Kingdom. At this point in history, the Egyptians began to both invade and trade with their neighbors, so now would be a good time to talk about the other peoples with whom the Egyptians interacted. Many of the most famous papyrus scrolls come from the Middle Kingdom, so talk about Egyptian literature, mythology and magic scrolls. Discuss the Egyptian hieroglyphic written language and have the students do activities relating to hieroglyphics such as learning to write their names in Egyptian characters.
The New Kingdom
- The major focus of the New Kingdom was Egyptian attempts to build an empire to the south and east and the wars this started with the Hittite Empire. Talk about Ramesses the Great's campaigns in the Levant. Another topic is the unorthodox religious beliefs of the pharaoh Akhenaten, who tried to replace the Egyptian pantheon with monotheistic sun worship. During this period, pharaohs were buried in secret underground tomb complexes, making this lesson a good time to talk about Egyptian burial rituals and beliefs about the afterlife. Because a lot of their treasures were recovered intact, this lesson should include a focus on Egyptian art.