Teaching Students About Egyptian Hieroglyphics


Egyptian hieroglyphics, an iconic yet mysterious script, formed the basis for ancient Egyptian communication and played a crucial role in their society. Understanding and interpreting these captivating symbols allows us to uncover the secrets of a bygone civilization. Educators have a unique opportunity to spark student curiosity and teach them about this fascinating writing system.

Getting Started: Understanding Hieroglyphics

Begin by discussing what hieroglyphics are and why they’re essential to our understanding of ancient Egyptian history. Explain that hieroglyphics were not only used for formal inscriptions but also encompassed the daily lives of Egyptians through their personal letters and administrative documents.

Introduce the concept of phonograms, ideograms, and determinatives as the three primary components of hieroglyphic writing. Phonograms represent individual sounds, ideograms symbolize entire words or concepts, and determinatives offer context or clarify meaning.

Teaching Techniques & Activities

Visual Resources: Images and videos depicting Egyptian monuments, artifacts, and examples of hieroglyphic inscriptions can help students grasp the script’s visual nature.

Interactive Learning: Encourage students to try writing their own names or simple phrases using hieroglyphics. Many online resources offer guides for teaching hieroglyphs along with interactive games or tools that can support this activity.

Exploration of Ancient Egyptian Culture: Bring history to life by teaching students about the lives of Egyptians who used hieroglyphics every day, including scribes, artisans, priests, and pharaohs.

Decoding Exercise: Provide students with examples of hieroglyphic texts such as funerary inscriptions or excerpts from famous works like The Book of the Dead. Have them work together in groups to decode the meaning behind these inscriptions using a provided key or guide.

Field Trips & Virtual Museum Visits: If feasible, take students on a trip to a local museum that features Egyptian artifacts or arrange a virtual tour of renowned institutions like the British Museum.

Assessment and Evaluation

Quizzes or tests can be administered to assess students’ understanding of hieroglyphic writing systems and their historical context.

Ask students to write short essays about specific topics related to hieroglyphics, such as the role of scribes in ancient Egypt or the deciphering of the Rosetta Stone.

Have students present their decoding exercise findings to the class, explaining how they arrived at their interpretations and sharing insights about the texts’ meanings within ancient Egyptian culture.


Teaching students about Egyptian hieroglyphics is not only an engaging way to explore ancient history, but it also encourages critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity skills. By embracing a range of teaching techniques and resources, educators can inspire a lasting appreciation for this captivating script and the rich culture it reveals.

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