Building the Sphinx

Studying ancient Egypt is so cool.  There are countless fascinating things to learn about and do.  Along with our recent study of ancient Egypt, we built this cool model sphinx from a kit.


Auditory, Visual, Kinesthetic

I love hands-on projects that my kids can work on while I read to them.  We fill our library book basket with as many books as I can find from our unit topics, and then while my kids create their cool projects, I read to them from the books.  We all talk, share ideas, and absorb what we’re learning so much more because we are using so many styles of learning all at once – auditory, visual, kinesthetic – a hands-on project with a discussion and a great books with fun pictures incorporates all three!

The instructions were non-existent on our wooden sphinx puzzle.  The whole thing was an ACTUAL  puzzle with lots of pieces in 3-D.  At one point Elizabeth said, “Wow…I had no idea how hard it was for those guys who built the Great Sphinx.”  Imagine how impressed she was when I told her that their task was FAR more difficult than our own.  Even though it took us hours to finish, It was a fun and cool project.  We’re holding a vote on whether or not we should bust his nose off.  Oh, and if you want to try your hand at this, you can find this guy on Amazon.

What Is The Sphinx?

The actual great Sphinx of Giza is made of limestone and sits 241 feet long and 66 feet tall (a fair bit bigger than our 10 inch model).  The Great Sphinx has the head of a man and the body of a lion, and stands guard near the pyramids at Giza as it has for centuries, though no one can quite seem to agree on exactly when this beast was built.

This is the Great Sphinx at Giza. There are hundreds of sphinx statues and reliefs from the ancient world. The Egyptians, Babylonians, Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans all used depictions of the sphinx in their art. Photo by Wknight94, CC license, Wikimedia.

Centuries of wear badly damaged the face of the Sphinx.  Legend has it that either the French used the Sphinx for cannon target practice during the Napoleonic wars or the British troops did during World War 1.  The story goes that someone shot off the nose of the Sphinx during this target practice.  Not true though!  Photos show that the nose was missing long before WWI.  Earlier drawings also clearly show the noseless Sphinx before the Napoleonic wars.  Most likely the wind and sand disintegrated the nose.

The Sphinx is wearing the classic headdress of a Pharaoh and has the beard of a god. The beard fell off.  To go see it, you’ll have to visit the British Museum in London.

Writer’s Workshop

After building and learning about the Sphinx, make up your own story about the man who decided to have this huge statue built.  Consider what his reasons may have been.  Once you’ve imagined and planned out your story, write it down and illustrate it in a booklet.  Finally, if you need ideas you can check out some of the theories about why it was built on Wikipedia . . . some of them are pretty interesting!  Adding this writing component takes the auditory/visual/kinesthetic lesson to a whole new level as kids also write and add their own ideas to the great conversation.

More From Layers of Learning

We built our Sphinx as part of our Layers of Learning Unit 1-2 activities.

Unit 1-2

It’s full of so many cool hands-on learning project.  {Mummyifying Pharoah Frank is my very favorite!}  Our curriculum guide can walk you through how Layers of Learning works.  And if you’re curious about how a Layers of Learning homeschool really looks, go read all about a Week With Layers of Learning for a peek into Michelle’s homeschool.

And here are a few more things that go perfectly with Unit 1-2 all about ancient Egypt.  Our Book of Years is something we use with all of our history units.  PS- Click here to see the rest of the Layers of Learning units that will change the way you homeschool forever!


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