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King Tut's Tomb
Exploring and Discovering
by Kandice Mortimer and Pamela Renner
Idaho State University

Grade: 5-7
Time Allotment: Two 45-minute class periods
Subject Matter: History

             King Tutankhamun was a shadowy and little known figure in the late 18th (1550-1295 BC) dynasty. He became king when he was 9 years old and died at 17. His tomb was preserved because little was known about him; no one knew he was around until Howard Carter discovered the tomb in November of 1922. His tomb, which was built for a high official and not a king, was hidden under a building. This enabled the tomb to stay complete and unharmed by robbers. His tomb was filled with beautiful treasures and it took years too catalogue and move the items out of the tomb. His tomb was considered to be the most exceptional archeology discovery ever made in Egypt. Many believed that the tomb was cursed and that the items should not be tampered with. This myth is believed and opposed by many. One reason the curse is believed by many is because Lord Carnarvon, the man who funded Howard Carters excavation, died of a blood infection caused by a mosquito a few months after the discovery.
Through the activities in this lesson the students will become familiar with the period in Egyptian history that King Tut lived in and learn about the culture of that time period.

Learning Objectives:
Students will be able to:

  • Visualize their lives when they were 9 and imagine having the responsibility of running their own country and the sacrifices they would have to make.
  • Describe King Tut's tomb and the items that were found inside.
  • Explain the importance of hieroglyphics to the ancient Egyptians.
  • Draw and rationalize their own tomb and items that they would have and explain why they made their tomb the way they did and why they would want those items with them.

From the National Standards for History, grades 5-12

  • Establish temporal order in constructing their own historical narratives (NSH 1c)
  • Distinguish between past, present, and future time (NSH 1a)
  • Consider multiple perspectives of various peoples in the past by demonstrating their differing motives, beliefs, interests, hopes, and fears. (NSH 3b)
  • Obtain historical data from a variety of sources, including: library and museum collections, historic sites, historical photos, journals, diaries, eyewitness accounts, newspapers, and the like; documentary films, oral testimony from living witnesses, censuses, tax records, city directories, statistical compilations, and economic indicators. (NSH 4b)

Media Components:
Eqypt's Golden Empire, Directed by Richard Bradley, Videocassette Dist. By PBS Home Video, 2002

Web Sites:

Materials: Overhead of King Tut's tomb ; Overhead of Hieroglyphic chart; Pieces of 11' by 13' white paper (one piece for each student)

Prep For Teachers
Prior to teaching this lesson read and become familiar with King Tut's tomb and the video. It may help to have the video ready at the correct spot before coming into class.

Introductory Activities
Establish a personal connection with History:
Explain to the students that we will be exploring Egyptian history; specifically King Tut and what were found in his tomb. Begin by asking the students what they already know about King Tut. Record their answers by developing a graphic organizer on the board.

Fill in the missing pieces of information; make sure these points are present:

  • Howard Carter discovered King Tut's tomb in 1922.
  • King Tut died in 1323 BC
  • He was made king when he was 9 and died at 17
  • His tomb was originally made for a high official
  • He was not known until his tomb was discovered.

Ask the students to determine the number of years his tomb went undisturbed. The answer is 3,245 years.

Learning Activities
Visualize King Tut's life
Tell the students that King Tut came into power when his parents died and succeeded the thrown when he was 9. Ask the students how old they are? What grade were they in when they were 9? As a class, discuss what their life was like when they were 9. As the teacher you might also want to share a little about yourself. What did they enjoy doing? What did they dislike? What types of things would they have to sacrifice to be a ruler? How would they have a ruled a kingdom? Who would they trust to help them?

After the class has discussed these topics tell them that King Tut died at the early age of 17. He only ruled for 8 years and in that time was not able to do anything great. He was mummified and put in a tomb that was not meant for him. As such he was left undisturbed for 3,245 years. Show the tomb at this time and go through the various rooms in the tomb. This will give them an idea of what a tomb is like for their assignment. Explain to the students that the ancient Egyptians believed the articles you were buried with were the ones you kept for eternity. While you are watching the video clip about King Tut's tomb pay attention to the things found in his tomb. Think about what you would want in your own tomb.

Insert Egypt's Golden Empire into your VCR. Provide your students with a FOCUS FOR MEDIA INTERACTION by asking them to write down on a piece of paper at least three things that King Tut took with him to eternity that they found interesting. START the tape at 1hr and 25.50 min. You will see a stone face for a few seconds before they start entering the tomb. PLAY the tape until the screen goes dark. At this time they are through talking about King Tut. STOP the tape. (Segment is about 4 minutes in length)

Culminating Activity
Discussing the video
Start with a group discussion allowing the students to come up to the board and share what three items they found interesting in King Tut's tomb.
With the remaining class time, direct students to make their own tomb and a list of what they would want in the tomb with them. If the students run out of time, instruct them to finish this assignment at home and bring it back tomorrow. They will be discussing their tomb and their list in the next class.

Day Two
Review class one's material
Have the students discuss what was learned yesterday, including what they found interesting. Write the key words and concepts on the board. Ask the students to take out their tombs and their list of items. Each student will then have a chance to share with the class one item he or she chose and why. After discussing the various items in the class and the similarities between them move on to step 2.

Decorating the tomb
Explain to the students that the ancient Egyptians would decorate the walls of the tomb and burial camber with hieroglyphics (signs used to write the language of the ancient Egyptians) The hieroglyphics that the Egyptians used were often prayers, spells and stories that were carved into the walls of a royal burial chamber. These could help the king overcome death and join the gods who dwelt in the sky, with the stars, or with osiris, in the Underworld. Some of these pictures were thought to be so powerful that the images of dangerous animals, for example the horned viper that represented the sound "f", were cut in two so that they could not magically come alive and harm the king.

Have the students discuss what life would be like with out written communication. How would we function? Are there any types of communication today that use symbols? They might say sign language and our own language, which are symbols that represent our language.

Display on the overhead the hieroglyphic alphabet and the other symbols to help students visualize what they looked like. Now, explain to the students that they can decorate their tomb and the walls of their chamber with hieroglyphics. Tell them that they can make up their own or use the ones that the Egyptians used. Have them tell an original story about their life as King in ancient Egypt with their hieroglyphic pictures.

Step 3:
Sharing their stories
When they are done, have them separate into small groups of four or five and share their story.

Language Arts: Read The Egypt Game By: Zilpha Keatley Snyder
Write up their goals as Pharoah.
Art: The study of ancient art - Draw like an Egyptian.
Social Studies: Create Maps of Ancient Egypt

Community Connections:
Invite a community leader in to discuss the responsibilities of public office.
Invite funeral director in to discuss burial rites and how they have developed over time.


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