Social Studies Rocks: Burying Our Chicken Mummies

Because I have no children, pets, or cable TV, my social studies classes consume my life. So, I thought I would create a new feature here at TAT to share some of the fun things we do in class.

Last year my last hour social studies class did a unit on Ancient Egypt. The culminating project was mummifying chickens (okay, actually they were cornish game hens). They dehydrated the carcasses in salt, designed and constructed sarcophagai, oiled and spiced the dehydrated carcasses, wrapped the spiced hen bodies in athletic bandages, made amulets, and everything.

It was a very involved project. Someday I'll blog about it, but not right now (If you're absolutely dying for the details, you can go to our school district wiki page and check out the pictures here).

Unfortunately, by the time our chicken mummies were ready, it was winter, and the ground was too frozen for us to bury them. I promised the kids we would bury the chickens when I came back after the summer. Today I kept my promise.


They were totally engaged in the burial process by the time I caught up with them. (I'll admit it: I'm slow. I like to meander. And chat. And take pictures.)


The most efficient means of digging turned out to be jumping on the shovel.


One group chose a really tough spot to dig. I suggested that they move to an alternate location, but they ignored me because I am obviously an idiot that doesn't know anything.


They kept trying to break the ground...


and trying.


Some of the kids got bored while their classmates were busy trying to dig up Sarichef Island's most impossible piece of ground. They started throwing chunks of earth at each other.


Because I'm such a good teacher, I took pictures instead of stopping them.

Alaska's Bounty

Other kids picked blackberries. Notice that these are Alaskan blackberries, not the electric kind or the kind that look like black raspberries. I ate a couple of these berries. Then my kids pointed out that they wouldn't be ready for another couple of weeks. That explained the extremely bitter taste and the fact that I spit them out after chewing.


Here is a picture of the blackberries in their natural habitat. Notice that they don't grow on bushes of the traditional variety. They grow really close to the ground.


Finally, the kids decided that I was right (whouda thunk?) and they needed to switch locations. The chicken mummy was transported with the utmost care. (BTW, I majorly heart this kid. He is the cutest funniest little guy. He's the one that convinced me to coach cross country skiing last year. If he asked me for $100, and I happened to have a Benjamin Franklin in my pocket, I'd probably just give it to him. He's irresistible.)


I just have to show this sarcophagus off for a minute. Isn't it adorable? It's products like this that make me think I might not be a complete failure as a teacher. This sarcophagus was, obviously, created by a pair of girls. The boys thought they were done painting after about 2.3 seconds.


Eventually, the kids managed to dig some pretty respectable holes.


Then my little honeys put the mummies into the holes...


and buried them.


We had talked about the fact that the Ancient Egyptians built pyramids as tombs, so they made little sand pyramids on top of their buried mummies.


One group decided their mummy needed a weed instead of a pyramid. Don't ask me. I was just the white lady supervising them. (Incidentally, this was the same group that ignored my suggestions about proper burial locations.)


On our way back to school, we got a little distracted. We HAD to stop at the basketball hoop so that I could take pictures of the kids trying to dunk the ball.


This was lots of fun and made for some very cool shots. Unfortunately, it made us late getting back. When we got back to the school, the next class had already started. The principal had my sixth hour kids in the library, and I had to write tardy excuses for all of my chicken buriers. Oops.


I didn't get fired, which was cool. Plus, the kids and I had a lot of fun. Nobody got outrageously hurt. I only got sand in my mouth once. I pretty much consider this a very successful day of social studies.