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Age Range: 7-11
Duration: 30-59 mins
  • D & T
  • Maths

Count using hieroglyphics

Learn how to write numbers in hieroglyphics

In this fun STEM activity for kids, learners will discover how to write numbers in hieroglyphics.

This free resource is aimed at primary school children and could be used as a main lesson activity, to teach learners about the works of the ancient Egyptians contributing to learning in design and technology, history, and mathematics or as an alternative method of reinforcing learning in basic numeracy.

Additionally, this could be used to start a discussion on ancient Egypt or to introduce the concept of people using different languages. It could also be used in conjunction with other activities in this theme, ‘Making Papyrus’ and ‘Write like an Egyptian’.

Activity introduction

This is one of a set of resources designed to allow learners to use practical methods to support the delivery of key topics within design and technology, history, and mathematics. This resource is based on the use of Hieroglyphics for mathematical activities by the Ancient Egyptians.

Using hieroglyphic symbols, leaners will write down three numbers with values between 1,000 and 10,000,000. They will then swap their numbers with a peer. Can they tell each other the correct values of the numbers?

A free presentation for teachers is provided. The presentation includes a slide showing how the ancient Egyptians represented fractions using hieroglyphics, which could be used for extension work. Additionally, learners could write and solve maths problems using hieroglyphics.

This practical and engaging activity will test students’ maths abilities as it challenges children to think about the value of numbers, rather than just processing stated values.

What you will need

  • Paper
  • Pens/pencils

The Ancient Egyptians connection

This activity is inspired by the achievements of ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptians influenced the modern world in many ways and made important contributions to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Used by the ancient Egyptians from around 3000 BC, Hieroglyphics are one of the earliest known writing systems. The symbols used were called hieroglyphs, which comes from a Greek word meaning ‘sacred carving’ and were believed to have been invented by the gods.

The ancient Egyptians who were responsible for writing were called scribes. All scribes had to undergo years of rigorous training as Hieroglyphics was quite complicated. Hieroglyphics includes around 700 different signs for objects and animals! Some signs were symbolic and stood for whole words, while others were phonetic and stood for sounds.

Hieroglyphics could be found on ancient Egyptian seals, plaques, tombs, and pottery. They were also used to record laws and taxes.

The engineering context

An understanding of numbers is vital for engineers to solve lots of interesting problems. For example, factories need to know the quantity of materials in order to make their products and farmers need to know how much food to produce.

Suggested learning outcomes

By the end of this exercise students will know what Hieroglyphics are, they will be able to use Hieroglyphics to represent numbers of values up to 10,000,000 and they will be able to carry out basic numeracy functions.

Download the free activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Please share your classroom learning highlights with us @IETeducation.

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