Math Lessons--Egyptian Math--Pyramids

Mathematical ScandalsToday I am going to share some math with you. If you have read the About Me section, you know I am a former high school math teacher. With so many kids going back to school now, I thought I would introduce a few math picture books and fun math lessons each week. Since this month's theme for Around the World with 12 Dishes is Egypt I thought I would share two books involving Egypt and math first. Plus I always like to include a little history with math lessons. I did this as a teacher as well. I loved sharing stories from Theoni Pappas' Mathematical Scandals with my classes.
Egyptian Man
Source: Phillip Martin

Some other interesting facts are that Egyptians developed a 365-day calendar--12 months of 30 days with 5 extra days, the decimal system, concept of zero, wrote in fractions, and the start of algebra. For information on the calendar click here, decimal system here, zero here,  fractions here, and algebra here.

Now the first book I am going to share with you is Count Your Way through Egypt by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson. This is a simple counting picture book. It introduces the numbers in both English and Arabic. It begins with a short introduction about Egypt and its language. Then it begins to count from one to ten and for each number they show something Egyptian. One canal, two parts (cut by the Nile) and each number has an explanation to go with what it is counting.
This book is very appropriate for young children who are learning their numbers. It also could work with older children with the many hieroglyph number problems you can find on-line. Discovering Egypt has some divided by ages. University of Chicago also provides some. Deciphering hieroglyphs is equivalent to decoding a message which is taught in algebra.

The next book is Mummy Math An Adventure in Geometry by Cindy Neuschwander.This book is about two children who go to Egypt with their scientist parents to help an archeologist find the burial chamber/pharaoh in the tomb he has discovered. The kids and their dog are the first to climb into the tomb and the door closes behind them. Since the kids are stuck inside without any adults, they decide to go see if they can find the burial chamber. The sister had learned to read hieroglyphics before they left home. The clues to finding the pharaoh involve faces. At first they assume the clues mean people's faces, but then they realize they mean the faces of the solids which are pictured all over the place. They manage to find the burial chamber and an exit by following all the clues and knowing their geometry solids.

Needless to say this story lends itself to lessons on the solids like a pyramid, prism, cone, sphere. It also uses words like tetrahedron and cube. Here is a worksheet with the definitions of these words. The faces of a solid are the polygons, the edges are where two faces intersect and the vertices are the points where the edges intersect.

Some Worksheets Found On-Line:
Source: Phillip Martin

Since we are focusing on Egypt, we made some pyramids. We made some out of paper. Since Hazel is only four, we used pre-made nets that I found at Activity Village.
I printed two out on cardstock and then let Hazel decorate one. I colored one brown to look like the stone in Egypt.

Then we glued them together. So I would not have to hold them while the glue dried I put rubber bands around them. This worked pretty well.

For older children, you could have them make the net or for a real challenge have them construct it with a compass and a straightedge (no measuring allowed). For more information on constructions visit Math Open Reference.

Of course you could also calculate the surface area and the volume of all the solids. has the formulas easily available. You can find some worksheets here.

We also made a pyramid out of a Legos. This was a fun activity to do together with Hazel. For someone slightly older they could do it by themselves.

These three books also have other ideas for making pyramids. Some out of clay, sand clay (with recipe), instructions on drawing the net of it, etc.  We are hoping to make one out of sand clay, but have not had the time yet to make the clay. Maybe you will see that in one of our Egypt posts coming later this month.

For now, I hope you have enjoyed our little math lesson and exploration of Egypt.


  1. The pyramids are a great way to introduce that geometric shape, aren't they? Thanks for sharing these ideas!

  2. Pinning this to my ancient history board.

  3. This is an awesome post with so many good resources. We are thinking of doing something with pyramids too for our Egypt study. I am also pinning it for the future...

  4. I love this! My son loves Ancient Egypt and math!

  5. I love anything from Egypt, and my son would love anything with blocks! He'd go crazy for the lego blocks pyramid. :) Thank you for linking up at Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop #7.

  6. I love using ancient Egypt as a way to learn math! Great activities, thanks for sharing at the Culture Swapper!

  7. You've been featured on this month's Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop! Can't wait to see what you link up this month!


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