Drama: Ancient Egypt - Akhenaten


By John Fines, published 24th January 2011

This exemplar outlines a lesson John Fines taught to a class of Year 3 children. He was visiting them for the first time to do some drama work. The children already knew a great deal about the Ancient Egyptians and were also used to learning through drama.

John writes:

After a brief period settling down and getting to know each other, I decided to use the story of Akhenaten, which I have taught before with some success. The story, reduced to basics, is that a pharaoh who looked strange - he had a very elongated head - decided to abandon all the gods of Egypt except one. That god was Aten, the rays of the Sun. As part of the new worship of Aten, the Pharaoh wanted to move his capital city and build a new one dedicated to Aten.

No more detail than this is needed for the drama.

Drama, part 1

First I set up a situation in which I, in role as the new Pharaoh, lived behind a curtain and would not be seen. As some children struggled to see me, others were sent off to close the temples to the other gods and to research a new site for a capital city. The children, to my surprise, decided on absolute obedience to Akhenaten's radical orders. They coped well with the responsibility, so finally I rewarded them by drawing my curtain and revealing my intentions.

Then I told them how Egypt had revenged itself on Akhenaten after his death, removing his name wherever they could and hiding his tomb.

Drama, part 2

I could see at once that several children had a notion to find that tomb, so to end the lesson we arranged the tomb's contents, became archaeologists and broke through into it. It was a lovely Howard Carter moment that all enjoyed, but more importantly it made sense of what we had already seen and learned.


Teaching method:

Drama and role play

Egyptian lessons:
History Study Unit: a world study

Lesson on finding Tutankhamens tomb

Background information for teachers
Ancient Egypt

Akhenaten by Wikipedia (Akhenaten was Tutankhamun's father)