Natural history of Ancient Egypt

This session is led by an experienced member of the museum’s education team. It explores the way the natural world influenced the daily lives of the ancient Egyptians. It begins with a basic introduction to the ancient world investigating some of the habitats, animals, plants and rocks found in ancient Egypt.

Workshop details

Pupils are encouraged to look at the Egyptians’ relationship to the natural world through their gods and myths and in the practical way they used natural resources, and farmed, fished and hunted. Real museum specimens, such as a snake skin, crocodile skull, peregrine falcon, scorpions, and scarab beetles provide a unique insight into the daily life of ordinary citizens in this fascinating civilisation. Pupils are encouraged to participate in an interactive game where they dress up as indigenous animals to learn about the dangers of living along the River Nile.

Pupils then have the opportunity to examine some of the plants that were important in the life of the ancient Egyptians, including wheat, barley, papyrus and flax. Finally, there is a chance to study some of the rocks and minerals used in building and decoration; for example, granite for sarcophaguses, limestone for the pyramids and gold in jewellery.

Using items from the museum’s handling collections; this session offers a unique learning experience that cannot be offered in the school classroom.

Please arrive on time for your workshop or we may not be able to run it for you. Please share these notes with your adult helpers before your visit. This will help them to support your pupils have a successful and enjoyable day.

This workshop can be linked with:

Curriculum links


Develop an understanding of scientific enquiry using acquired knowledge and encourage pupils to recognise the power of rational explanation


Understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world and the nature of ancient civilisations.


Pupils should be taught to speak clearly and convey ideas confidently using Standard English. They should learn to justify ideas with reasons.

Human and physical geography

Describe and understand key aspects of human geography, including types of settlement and land use, economic activity including trade links, and the distribution of natural resources including energy, food, minerals and water.

SMSC- Fundamental British Values

Through participating in this session students are encouraged to think about democracy and tolerance.

  • Mutual respect and tolerance: The children gain an understanding of ancient Egyptians’ way of life and beliefs and develop tolerance and mutual respect. They discover how much the ancient Egyptians valued animals and plants, including papyrus, in their everyday life. The children readily relate to this and feel respect for the ancient Egyptians’ achievements.
  • Democracy: Children start to explore the social hierarchy of ancient Egypt in a society different from our own. They develop ideas about democracy by beginning to understand how different people, such as slaves, servants and pharaohs, may have felt. 

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

Pupils will:

  • develop a chronologically secure knowledge and understanding of world history.
  • establish clear narratives within and across the periods they study.
  • understand significant aspects of the history of the wider world; the nature of ancient civilisations; characteristic features of past non-European societies; achievements and follies of mankind.
  • understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of scientific and historical sources.


Pupils will:

  • recognise and identify artefacts and specimens used in the sessions and some of the evidence they reveal about life in the past.
  • begin to recognize that the past is represented and interpreted in different ways, and to give reasons for this.
  • begin to recall, select and organise historical and scientific information.
  • use dates and historical  and scientific vocabulary to compare life in the ancient world with modern day.
  • address and devise historically and scientifically valid questions about change, cause, similarity, difference, and significance between ancient and modern civilisations.
  • learn to give reasoned answers backed up by evidence.


Pupils will:

  • be introduced to the work of curators and the reasons why the museum has a collection of natural history.
  • appreciate that the objects and specimens they are working with are real and have to be treated with respect.
  • understand how our knowledge of the past is constructed from a range of  historical and scientific sources.


Pupils will:

  • appreciate that the objects and specimens they are working with are genuine and authentic and have to be treated with respect.
  • see World Museum as a resource for historical and scientific research to help understand  the ancient world, that is an enjoyable place to visit.