Friday, May 17, 2013

Miscellaneous Madness: Hieroglyphics

My name means "hard headed" in Gaelic and I'm nothing if not true to my namesake. I can pick up and recall random concepts at will, but if there's something I don't want to learn, good luck getting me to do it. And even though I love books, mom has had a heck of a time getting me to sit down and practice letters. So when I took up an interest in all things Egyptian (I just love me some gods and goddeses), mom recalled a fantastic hieroglyphics stamp set she had when she was little and thought it might do the trick. The newer version (she just found the one she had on ebay and wished she bought that instead -- it was sturdier and had a better inkpad) has a nice book explaining the history of hieroglyphs and how Egyptians used them in practice. Turns out that it's a bit tricker than just your "A, B, Cs," -- we only have to learn 26 letters; Egyptian kids had to learn over 250 before they were considered literate. Yowsers.

We read through the stamp book and this basic hieroglyphics book as well (which also comes with a stencil) and then took to trying it out ourselves. Today is my shabbat day at school and I wanted mom to read some of my books on Egypt to the class, so she thought it would be nice if I made each of my friends a bookmark with their name in hieroglyphs. Mom cut bright strips of paper and then wrote each of my friends' names on a piece (top to bottom, like the Egyptians wrote). There are all kinds of tricky rules for translating English to hieroglyphics, but mom decided to keep it simple and do one stamp for every letter (ignoring some of the vowel and sounds rules of hieroglyphics). She asked me to identify each English letter and find it in the stamp book along with the appropriate hieroglyphic. I picked it up quickly and after a while, I didn't need to say the English letter, I'd just say "that's one reed leaf,"  "water," etc.

You know I still pretended I didn't know how to spell my own name in English, but what fun would it be if I didn't give mom a hard time? We've also enjoyed reading National Geographic's book on Ancient Egypt and this fun "travel journal style" book about the search for Osiris' tomb. And it was The Magic Treehouse "Mummies in the Morning" that got me on this Egypt kick in the first place. Mom promised we could make our own papyrus soon, so stay tuned!

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