Count Like an Egyptian

Scripture: Genesis 41

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will understand the concept of place value in writing numbers.
  • Students will use place value in addition and subtraction of multi-digit numbers.
  • Students will solve word problems using place value.
  • Students will understand purpose of zero in establishing place value in our number system.
  • Students will compare and contrast our number system to that of the Egyptians

Guiding Question: Did Egyptians use/need a symbol for zero?

Materials:
Egyptian numbers list
500 index cards (at least)
colored markers or crayons
pen

Procedure:
Review the story of Joseph, focusing especially on Joseph’s life in Egypt. Remind students Joseph would have needed to be able to speak and write in the Egyptian language in order to have the positions he did.

Use the Egyptian Numbers List and the index cards to create at least 11 flash cards for each of the number symbols– Egyptian hieroglyph on one side, Arabic numeral on the other (i.e., eleven cards with a single stroke on front, “1” on back; eleven cards with a heel bone on front, “10” on back; eleven cards with a rope coil on front, “100” on the back, etc).

Use additional index cards to make Level 2 activity cards: each card has a single multi-digit number written on it, with 2, 3, 4 or more digits, depending on how many symbols you made cards for. (To make it self-checking, draw the correct symbols on the back to represent the number.)

Use additional index cards to make Level 3 activity cards, each with a single addition or subtraction problem that can be modeled by the cards from step 1. Note: If you only have 11 cards for each symbol, make sure the numbers in each column that you add don’t add up to more than 11. So 732 + 379 would work, but not 177 + 199, because you’d run out of cards to represent the digits. To make the activity self-checking, draw the correct symbols on the back to represent the solution.

Use additional index cards to make Level 4 activity cards, each with a word problem that fits the context of the story. Ex: “Bata brought 10 (use heel bone symbol) baskets of grain each year to Joseph for storage during the seven years of plenty. In the first five years of famine, Joseph gave Beta a total of 48 (use Egyptian symbols) baskets of grain to feed his family. How many more baskets of grain can Beta take to equal the number he brought to Joseph?” To make the activity self-checking, draw the correct symbols on the back to represent the solution.

Level one: match symbols– students match up symbols by place value. Ex: 10 single stroke cards to one heel bone card, ten heel bone cards to one rope coil card, etc.

Level two: students draw an activity card with a multi-digit Arabic number and place hieroglyph cards to model, in place value order. Ex: 325 on the activity card modeled by three rope coil cards on left + two heel bone cards in center + 5 single stroke cards on right.

Level three: students draw an activity card with a multi-digit addition or subtraction problem and model the problem with the hieroglyph cards. Ex: 325 + 76 = ? Students set hieroglyph cards out to model each number (as in level two), placing 325 directly above 76 in place value columns. Students model addition by working from right to left, replacing 5+6 single stroke cards in right column with one single stroke and one heel bone, then carrying heel bone card to center column. Now students add 1 + 2 + 7 in center column and replace with a rope coil, which is carried to left column. Students then add 3 + 1 rope coils in left column to get 4. Solution: 401, represented by 4 rope coils and a single stroke.

Level four: students draw an activity card containing a word problem that Joseph might have dealt with during the famine, come up with an equation to fit, and model solution with hieroglyph cards.

Supplemental Activity: Have students make up their own activity cards, writing their own numbers, equations and word problems.

Written by: Jeanne Holt