Friday, September 5, 2014

Opening Day 2014: A New Epic Adventure, Part One

I am so excited to share pictures from our opening day.  This is the beginning of our new Epic Adventure school year that will take us through antiquity: Ancient Egypt and Classical Greece and Rome.  During our planning days this summer, we decided that we wanted to introduce the school year to our kids by having them explore the inside of a pyramid.  So, what better way than to turn a garage into the interior of a pyramid!

All summer, we did our best to keep it a secret as we spent several weeks preparing for opening day. We took huge foam boards and wrapped them in contractor's paper to construct the walls of the pyramid. Then we painted Egyptian images and hieroglyphs everywhere.  My husband hung the boards from the rafters with wire.

We divided the garage into three rooms: the queen's chamber, treasure chamber, and king's chamber. We also used black sheeting and black sheets to cover up the outer parts of the chamber, along the walls of the garage, to cover up all of the stuff that we did not want showing because it had nothing to do with Egypt.

The night before, we added props, including treasure, wicker baskets, jars with battery-operated tea lights, a sarcophagus, and other items to fill the rooms.  

Now, see the Egyptian in the purple headdress in the above picture?  She is a veteran homeschool mom who came out to help us this day.  Thanks, Jeanne!

Here is what the chambers looked like when we were done.  This is the queen's chamber, the first room the kids walked into:

Notice the basket full of tiki torches?  We made these with little flashlights in the center.  Since the inside of the pyramid was dark, the kids received a torch in this first chamber.

This is the second room, the treasure chamber, where all of the king's gold and personal objects were stored.  In this room they received a small token scarab to wear around their neck.   Here is a closer look at all of this gorgeous treasure:

The next room, the king's chamber, was the longest.  The kids walked down a narrow hall, and this is what they saw on the walls:

When they got to the end, there was a sarcophagus and canopic jars. The sarcophagus was made of cardboard with a lid that opened.  In fact, in this room, the child who was brave enough to open the sarcophagus found the school t-shirts inside - one for each child.

Here I am (later) with the sarcophagus in the upright position.  He was big enough for kids to lie inside, which they all tried out later.

To add to the atmosphere, we burned one little frankincense cone inside the pyramid and had Egyptian meditation music playing from a computer.  It was perfect. 

Before the kids were allowed into the pyramid for their first glimpse of the big secret, they waited anxiously in the living room to be called.  This is what the first day of school feels like for them.  

We broke them up into groups of six, and they received instructions on how to use the key to read the hieroglyphs.  In each chamber there was one hieroglyph that they needed to decode.

A mom explained to the first group how to use the key, and everyone received their own.  There were no vowels, and some consonants were missing.

This is an up-close image of what the hieroglyph looked like.  This one says "rainbow."

When they entered the queen's chamber, this mom told them a short story about the famous queens of Egypt.  Then she gave them each a torch to find the hieroglyph and decode it.

And that is what they are doing here:

And having a lot of fun, too.

Once they figured out the word, they were permitted to move on into the second chamber, which I will show you next time.  So come back to see what happened next.



Tonia L said...

Oh my word! That looks like so much fun! I'm sure the kids will never forget such a fun surprise.

Melissa said...

How FUN! Looks like you are going to have a great adventure this year!

Ruth said...

Tonia: It was a lot of fun and over the top! They really had a great time.

Ruth said...

Hi, Melissa! Yes, it was great fun. We were so busy making opening day super big, that afterward we all thought, "Now we have to start school!" But it should be a really great adventure.