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Nile: River of Gods: Teacher’s Guide
Grade Level: 6-8
Curriculum Focus: World History
Lesson Duration: Three class periods
Program Description
There are miles of Nile — 4,000 miles, to be precise, making it the world's longest river. Nile: River
of Gods sails through centuries of history along this primal waterway. Your students will learn how
the confluence of the White Nile and Blue Nile created one of Earth's most fertile agricultural
valleys, making possible the ancient civilization that built the pyramids, invented paper, and made
embalming a high art.
Onscreen Questions and Activities
Segment 1, Nile: River of Gods: Part One
Pre-viewing questions:
What do you know about the Nile and its role in the lives of ancient Egyptians?
How many Niles are there?
As you watch the program, take note of how Egyptian culture – including religion,
architecture, and farming techniques – developed around the river. What do you
think Egyptian life would be like today without the Nile?
Post-viewing questions: According to the program, the Nile is made up of two rivers, the Blue
and the White Nile. The Blue Nile contributes rich mud, silt, and four-fifths of the water, and
the White Nile contributes nutrient-rich waters. Discuss the benefits of this natural cycle of
resources to Egypt. How is wildlife affected?
Activity: Design and present to your class an ancient Egyptian boat that might have traveled on
the Nile. List materials the citizens of ancient Egypt would have used and the items they would
have transported.
Segment 2, Nile: River of Gods: Part Two
Pre-viewing questions:
In most places, floods are considered a disaster. In Egypt, floods were eagerly
anticipated. How can floods be beneficial?
As you watch the program, look for examples that show the connection between the
management of water and the success of the Egyptian civilization. How do you
think Egyptian farmers harnessed its nutrient-rich waters?
Nile: River of Gods: Teacher’s Guide
Post-viewing questions:
Ancient Egypt was referred to as “the breadbasket of the ancient world.” What does
this mean?
What tools did Egyptians invent that allowed them to become highly successful
What role did papyrus reeds play in the advancement of this ancient civilization?
Activity: Research the symbolic use of animals in ancient Egyptian religion and architecture.
Then give a brief presentation of your findings. Be sure to explain the particular meaning of
each symbol.
Lesson Plan
Student Objectives
Students will understand:
Only elite members of ancient Egyptian society could read and write.
The Nile River played an important role in the lives of ancient Egyptians and still does today.
Ancient Egyptians had many of the same concerns as we do today: for example, food supply,
technological advances, weather, and natural habitats.
Nile: River of Gods video and VCR, or DVD and DVD player
Printed and electronic reference materials about ancient Egypt
Word-processing and page-layout programs (optional)
1. Announce to students that the whole class will work together to produce a newspaper that
might have been published in ancient Egypt for elite members of society—those who could read
and write. Make sure students understand that ancient Egyptians read and wrote hieroglyphics.
For the purpose of this project, the class will suspend disbelief and prepare a newspaper written
in English and produced with advanced technology (word processors and scanners).
2. Explain that all the stories, advertisements, and other features in the newspaper should reflect
the importance or role of the Nile River in the lives of ancient Egyptians.
3. Assign small groups of students to different roles or beats within their newspaper. Talk briefly
about the responsibilities of each role or beat. For example:
Managing editors to determine matters such as hierarchy of available stories, policy
regarding advertising, subject of editorials
Published by Discovery Education. © 2005. All rights reserved.
Nile: River of Gods: Teacher’s Guide
Agriculture beat to cover record harvest of grain
Technology beat to cover invention of waterwheel or shaduf
Zoology beat to cover sighting of animals not seen before along the Nile
Weather beat to predict upcoming flood
Art department to locate, copy, download, and scan illustrations for the
newspaper’s main stories
Editorial staff to review and improve first drafts of reports; to revise, edit, and
proofread as necessary; to write headlines that both fit and give information
Advertising department to work up ads for services or products available along the
Columnists, editorial writers, and cartoonists to cover gossip, commentary on
current events, other features
Puzzle creators
4. Make clear to students that while their stories will be fictional, they should be based in
historical fact. In addition, stories should carry bylines and appropriate datelines.
5. Review with students the elements of a straight news story, such as the following:
Answering the journalist’s five W and How questions (Who, What, When, Where,
Why, How)
Putting most important facts first, saving less important details until later in the
story (inverted pyramid structure)
Using objective rather than subjective words
Including enough details so that the reader feels like an eyewitness to an event
Quoting when a speaker’s words are better than a journalist’s
6. Next, review with students the ways in which feature stories may differ from straight news
stories. For example, the former may, like editorials, offer value judgments by the reporter; the
latter are as objective as possible.
7. Tell students how long the newspaper issue should be (for example, two pages), and give
writers, editors, and others deadlines.
8. Ask students to give their newspaper a title, such as Ancient Egyptian News.
9. Have students put their stories, captions, and other materials into a word-processing program.
If possible, show students how to use a publishing program to make their final products look
like newspapers, with multiple columns, headlines, pictures next to stories, and so on. If you do
not have word-processing or publishing software, consider having the stories typed or
handwritten in standard column widths, and cut and paste the articles, illustrations, and other
matter into a multicolumn newspaper format.
Published by Discovery Education. © 2005. All rights reserved.
Nile: River of Gods: Teacher’s Guide
Discussion Questions
1. The Greek historian Herodotus claimed that “Egypt is the gift of the River Nile.” Would
Egyptians today still agree with his words of appreciation? Why or why not? Analyze the ways
that the Nile River contributes to their lives.
2. One product of the banks of the Nile was papyrus. This sturdy reed, which was made into a
material that could be easily written on, advanced written communication. In ancient Egypt,
though, only a small number of the elite could read and write. Discuss what life would be like
today if only the wealthiest few citizens and religious leaders could read and write?
3. From the early colonists’ establishments on the James River in Virginia to Lewis and Clark’s
travels on the Missouri River, Americans have depended on rivers for transportation, trade, and
resources. What role have rivers played in the development of American cities and towns? Has
a river been an important geographical feature in your area? In what way?
4. The land along the Nile River was the richest farmland in the ancient world. Farming in the
area, however, took careful planning. Explain the steps that Egyptian farmers would take to
farm the land. What dangers did they have to avoid? What signs would they look for?
5. Compare and contrast the Nile River and the Mississippi River. Analyze their length, the
direction that they flow, their uses, their deltas, and the cultures and traditions that have
developed along each river.
6. Debate the idea that “agriculture made wealth, and wealth made the Egyptian civilization.”
Use the following three-point rubric to evaluate students' work during this lesson.
3 points: Students provide complete, historically accurate facts and details in news or features
stories, or clearly stated positions and support in editorials; error-free grammar, usage,
2 points: Students provide some historically accurate facts and details in news or features
stories, but more needed; some errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics.
1 point: Students provide few facts and details; many errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics.
Definition: Participated in, shared, or used by a whole community.
Context: The reliance on communal labor to harvest crops recalls an earlier time.
Definition: A person or thing that is exalted or revered as supremely good or great.
Context: The sun was the supreme deity, the source of life for gods and man.
Published by Discovery Education. © 2005. All rights reserved.
Nile: River of Gods: Teacher’s Guide
Definition: A flat or nearly flat surface that may be submerged by floodwaters.
Context: Nearly 5,000 years ago, the great pyramids rose above the floodplain.
Definition: Of or relating to the earliest ages of the world or human history.
Context: These early settlers faced a primeval world that was unpredictable and mysterious.
Definition: A mode of obtaining or a source of the necessities of life.
Context: The surplus of grain liberated farmers from subsistence farming.
Academic Standards
Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning (McREL)
McREL's Content Knowledge: A Compendium of Standards and Benchmarks for K-12 Education
addresses 14 content areas. To view the standards and benchmarks, visit
This lesson plan addresses the following national standards:
World History—Early Civilizations and the Rise of Pastoral Peoples: Understands the major
characteristics of civilization and the development of civilizations in Mesopotamia, Egypt,
and the Indus Valley.
World History—The Beginnings of Human Society: Understands the processes that
contributed to the emergence of agricultural societies around the world.
Geography—Places and Regions: Understands the physical and human characteristics of
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS)
The National Council for the Social Studies (NCSS) has developed national standards to provide
guidelines for teaching social studies. To view the standards online, go to
This lesson plan addresses the following thematic standards:
Time, Continuity, and Change
Published by Discovery Education. © 2005. All rights reserved.
Nile: River of Gods: Teacher’s Guide
Support Materials
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Custom Classroom account for future use. To learn more, visit
Published by Discovery Education. © 2005. All rights reserved.