Kevin Beck spent Monday in his Hendersonville Middle classroom stacking desks, making corridors out of gauze and shrouds, and lugging in a wooden “coffin.” On Tuesday, Beck’s 6th-graders would have to crack an archeological code to uncover the pharaoh at the end of the maze.
Each year around Halloween, the social studies teacher turns his classroom into the Egyptian tomb, creating a fun archeological code-cracking experience for his 6th-graders.
Beck started to do this activity roughly 5 years ago, to enhance the 6th grade unit on Ancient Egypt. “I wanted to get the kids more interested in it rather than just reading about it,” he said.
“We have already learned about the economics, religions, and social classes,” Beck said, adding that students tend to respond better to hands-on activity that gives them an end goal.
So while his classroom still contains the normal essentials – including the social studies textbooks – it also has spider webs, fake spiders, sheets, a mummy in a coffin, and artifacts students use to solve questions.
Just to enter the classroom, students must complete a puzzle. “First they have to break the hieroglyphic code to enter,” said Beck. “As each group finishes, they get to come in and discover each artifact, answering each question and moving on until they reach the tomb.”
Students view questions pertaining to Egyptian society, the sarcophagus, mummification, and more. After cracking the code, students write a short story about their journey into the tomb.
As the students find their way through the tomb, they crawl and maneuver through the maze in the dark with one flashlight per group. Not only are Beck’s students mastering Ancient Egypt curriculum, they’re learning valuable teamwork skills.
As Beck stood in the hallway waiting for his students to gather before class began, former students of his approached, asking about the annual Egyptian tomb and reminiscing about how exciting it had been for them.
“The students remember this years down the road and typically ask me when it will happen again,” said Beck.
By Nicole O’Connor,
HCPS Public Information Office Intern