The Egyptian Festival was spawned from Shirley Westhead’s Ancient History unit. For a few years just her fourth grade class studied the everyday lives of the Egyptians before Cleopatra. “In the curriculum,” she explained in an interview, “we could pick one subject we wanted to teach out of personal interest.” In time Ila Sellingham’ s fourth grade joined the study and the Egyptian Festival, an event open to the entire school, was born.
During the unit of study the children learned that “…any person at any time is similar”, Shirley said, “when compared to our lives.” The children learned how clothing adapts to the area where people live and the students learned the games Egyptian children play. “In those days,” Shirley said, “a child was buried with their favorite things.”
On the day of the festival the pillars of the multi appeared as palm trees. On one wall was a mural of the Nile and along the other hung large panels with life sized drawings of marble statues. The kids set up tents in order to sell their wares. Whatever they wanted to sell, they had to make 500 items, in order to barter their goods with the other children in the school. Earlier in the week, the children in all classes received an invitation to the festival and with it cutout copies of a picture of different animals or food which they could use to barter for a trinket, a bracelet or necklace for example, at the market. “The kids dressed up in sheets basically,” Shirley said, “decorated with press-on crayons.”
The festival ended with a parade of dancing girls and musicians. Besides the market booths there were some demonstration booths where children could learn things like the tools and measurement principles of the time. The children in fourth grade had a chance to create a book using papyrus paper from Egypt, and each one received a cutting from a papyrus plant.
Taken from an interview with Shirley Westhead,
Retired Fourth Grade Teacher