Teaching about the Tension in Egypt

By Brent Vasicek on February 2, 2011
  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

There is a lot of excitement going on in Egypt these days. What is it all about? What would an elementary student need to know? What could you possibly connect it to? What lessons can be learned by discussing the situation? Below are some ways you might incorporate Egypt into your curriculum.


Photo courtesy m_bartosch.


I believe it is important to incorporate as much of the real world into a classroom as possible. A great deal can be learned from the mistakes (or success) of others. After all, this is why we study history. The tensions in Egypt can provide many valuable lessons that an elementary student can appreciate. The key is connecting the information with something they already know (for the brain stores by similarities and retrieves by differences). Otherwise, it just won't stick! 

Lesson Anchor Music = "Walk Like an Egyptian"


Since math is the first subject that I usually tackle each day, I might start the day with a geometry review of three dimensional figures. The vocabulary words of vertex, edge, and face would be reviewed along with the names of common three dimensional figures, especially the pyramid.

One can go to this site and print off geometry nets for students to create their own three dimensional objects out of paper.

Math and Reading

Read the story "Rajah's Rice."  This is a mathematical folktale from India about a clever girl who uses Rajah math concepts (i.e. doubling quantities) to outsmart the greedy Rajah.  At this point in the day, I would still not mention the current situations in Egypt.  I am just planting seeds that can later be harvested.

Reading and Writing

Allow students 10 minutes to write their thoughts about the following scenario. 

Your older brother has mowed the neighbor's lawn, washed both family cars, and did the laundry. He asks your parents if he can use his own money to buy a popsicle from the ice cream man. Your parents, who have sat on the back porch and smoked all day, tell him no and take his money.  Furthermore, your brother is grounded for even asking for permission for the popsicle. This happens all the time in your house.  You believe your parents are unreasonable. What do you do?

Have the students share some of their thoughts. Direct them down the path as to whether they should remain neutral, stand up for what they think is right, or obey the parents because there could be serious consequences. This will later connect to what should the US do with Egypt.

Reading and Social Studies

Print off one or both of the following short articles. Read about the situation together. Article 1  Article 2  (do not show the videos from this site to your students). Report this additional fact: CNN stated that the USA gives greater than $1 billion in aid to the country annually. 

Tasks after reading the article:

  • Find the location of Egypt and Tunisia on a map
  • Discuss Problem and Solution
  • Discuss Cause and Effect
  • Discuss our American Core Democratic Values
  • Tie the articles into "Rajah's Rice" and the writing prompt from earlier
  • Why does the USA care?  (answers found in articles)
  • How will this affect the world?
  • Why is the Suez canal so important?
  • Connect this to the Boston Tea Party or other events that started the American Revolution


  • What effects do technology have on this revolution?
  • Compare it to the technology available at the time of the American Revolution. Compare the lanterns in the North Church / Paul Revere on horse back to modern day text messaging for mobilizing groups of rebels.
  • Does the government have a right to shut down a communication system like the Internet or text messaging?


Have students choose to whom they would like to write a letter.

  • The President of America - Stating their opinion on whether the USA should get involved or let the country solve its own issues.
  • A Child in Egypt - Giving advice on the importance to either stand up for what they believe in or the importance of keeping the peace and following the rules of the leader.
  • The President of Egypt (Hosni Mubarak) - Giving advice on how he should handle the tensions with his citizens.


What additional activities do you do with your students to help them learn about the tensions in Egypt?

2I2 Trademark 2010 Vasicek Peace,



2i2 is a trademark of Mr. Vasicek's classroom.





I am a Pre-service student teacher at Illinois State. I think this is a very interesting idea. I like the thought of just "planting seeds to be harvested later". I also have noticed that you incorporate as many subjects (math, reading, etc.) as possible into one lesson. As a student(and teacher) of music, do you think there is a way to incorporate this same lesson into the music classroom?

Jeff~ You could totally incorporate Egypt into the classroom. Perhaps you could play some authentic Egyptian music to engage the students and then talk about current events (reading / language arts). You could then analyze the rhythm, meter, patterns, etc of the Egyptian musical selection (math). Depending on the age, you could also tie in music of the Revolutionary War or Great Depression period. Have the students decide which kind of music would come out of Egypt after their uprisings and revolution (social studies). There are many possibilities depending on the age and the curriculum you are trying to satisfy. ~Brent

Dear Mr.Brent, I'm one of those Egyptians ( I'm proud to be so ) I'm also a grade one teacher. Thanks for mentioning our revolution if you need any help I would be glad to offer it

Sara~ Wow! Thank you for taking a moment to write. It is an exciting time in Egpyt right now. Such an important part of modern history. I wish you the best of luck! Thank you for volunteering to be a primary source. ~Brent

Post a Comment
(Please sign in to leave a comment. Privacy Policy)
RSS Subscribe ButtonSign up to get these great teaching ideas delivered automatically.Subscribe now >