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Tut’s Revenge

Activity Plan, Social Studies 3

Farming on the Nile


Lesson Summary: In this activity, students will make a salt map of a farm by the Nile River.  They will then learn about irrigation techniques, and discuss which would be best to get water from the river to their farm.  They will build a model shaduf to move water from their “river” to their “farm.”
Subject: Social Studies: Culture, Time Continuity and Change, Science Technology and Society

Technology: Basic Operations and Concepts


Grade Level:

  • Target Grade: 6 
  • Upper Bound: 8
  • Lower Bound: 6


Time Required: Three class periods.


  • Paint
  • Flour
  • Salt
  • Vegetable Oil
  • Food Coloring
  • Brushes
  • Toothpicks
  • Cardboard
  • Modeling clay
  • Small plastic cups
  • string
  • craft sticks
  • containers to hold water (such as plastic shoebox-sized storage containers)
  • Irrigation Machines handout
  • Irrigation Techniques worksheet


Lesson Plan:

Day 1

  • Review the Social Studies 3 PowerPoint.  Emphasize how the Nile River influenced farming in ancient Egypt.
  • Divide students into groups of 2 or 3 to make their salt maps.  Explain that their map needs to include a portion of the Nile River and a farm by the Nile.
  • Hand out the cardboard and have students draw a rough outline of their map on it.
  • Here are the directions for making salt dough:

-         Mix 4 cups flour and 1 cup salt in one bowl

-         Mix 4 tablespoons vegetable oil and food coloring in another bowl

-         Add the two mixtures together and enough water to make a dough-like mixture

  • Have students make the salt maps.


Day 2

  • After the salt maps have dried overnight, the students can paint them.
  • Pass out the Irrigation Machines handout and the Irrigation Techniques worksheet.  Have the students complete the worksheet.  Point out to them that they may need to infer things from the information provided to determine answers on the worksheet, for example: the Noria was a really big water wheel, so it would have required lots of material and time to make.
  • Discuss their answers to the worksheet.  Tell them that the shaduf was most widely used in ancient Egypt, and ask why they think that was.


Day 3

  • Tell students that today they will be making a shaduf to water their farms.  Pass out the materials for making the shadufs.  Each team will need about 4 craft sticks, a plastic cup, a golf ball-sized piece of clay, and a 2 foot-long piece of string.
  • General instructions for making the shaduf:

-         Tie 3 of the sticks together to form a tripod.

-         Attach the cup to a piece of string either by punching a hole and tying it or using a paper clip.

-         Tie the piece of string with the cup to one end of the other craft stick and stick a lump of modeling clay on the other end.

-         Balance this stick on the tripod and experiment with the amount of clay needed to get the right balance.

  • Have containers with water in them set up so that students can practice moving water from one to the other with their shadufs.


Vocabulary / Definitions:

  • Irrigation: Supplying land with water artificially (with ditches, pipes, etc).


Lesson Extensions:

  • Build a full sized shaduf that can be used outside at a creek or with 2 large containers.  Broomsticks might work well for constructing this.




·   Salt map recipe:



6.3 (A) Create maps, graphs, charts, and models to depict regional aspects

6.3 (B) Pose and answer questions about geographic distributions and patterns

6.4 (B) Explain geographic factors responsible for patterns of population

6.6 (B) Describe the physical processes that produce natural resources

6.6 (C) Analyze effects of physical processes and the environment on humans

6.7 (A) Identify and analyze ways people adapt to the physical environment

6.7 (B) Identify and analyze how people have modified the physical environment

6.7 (C) Describe ways technology enables us to modify the physical environment

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