Making clay tablets is a hands-on project that not only teaches children about ancient Egypt but is fun to boot. This craft project is not difficult and requires few tools and materials. It allows children to demonstrate their creativity during the learning process and provides a welcome break from lecture-style learning.
Things You'll Need
- Mixing spoon
- 4 cups of sand
- 2 cups of corn starch
- 2 tablespoons of cream of tartar
- 3 cups of hot water
- Self-hardening clay (optional)
- Food coloring (yellow and orange)
- Rolling pin
- Popsicle sticks
- Clear sealant (optional)
- Paint brush (optional)
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To make sand dough, mix four cups of sand with two cups of cornstarch and two tablespoons of cream of tartar. Add three cups of hot water and stir together using a mixing spoon. Adults should handle this step because of the hot water. Allow to cool before using. If you are in a rush, use self-hardening clay rather than making sand dough.
Place the sand dough or self-hardening clay onto a clean surface. Use enough dough to create a tablet that is approximately one foot tall by two-thirds of a foot wide, that is, one or two large handfuls. Add two to three drops of both yellow and orange food coloring to provide authentic coloring. Knead the food coloring into the dough or clay. Children and adults alike will enjoy this fun, albeit messy, step.
Shape the tablet into a rectangle using your hands or a rolling pin. The tablet should be approximately one inch thick.
Lay the rectangle on the table in front of you. One of the short ends should be closest to you. Carve hieroglyphics into the slab using popsicle sticks. Use a Web site such as Ancient Translations to find examples of hieroglyphics and their meanings.
Allow the tablet to dry according to the manufacturer's instructions. Flip it over after a few hours to allow the back to dry.
Use a paintbrush and clear sealant, such as that used for ceramics projects, to coat the front of the tablet. Allow to dry for at least one hour. Flip it over, coat the back and allow to dry for another hour. This will make the tablet waterproof and more durable. Adults should perform this step, as the sealant contains chemicals that could be dangerous for children.