While Meredith wasn’t terribly interested in most of the Ancient Egypt books I got, she loved the Eyewitness Mummy one. We found a cool game online, Discovery Kids Mummy Maker, that she has had a blast with. Her and I played the game together the first couple of times, and she asked questions and wanted me to read all the information to her. Even at her age she’s really learning and retaining a lot of the information. Now when she goes to play the game, for the most part she can do all the steps herself and even tell me what most of them are for (a warning though, the label maker at the last step is annoyingly unforgiving of mistakes or slips of the finger).
In my search for fun Egypt-related resources, I found this Living and Learning blog which has some great links and ideas for things to do with a preschooler. I stuck mostly to the mummy ones since that seems to be what is really fascinating Meredith right now. She has a page about mummifying a Barbie doll and an apple. The apple seemed like a simple and easy science project that Meredith could understand. So off to the local deli we went and I let her pick out an apple. Back at home, we cut it in half and then into quarters. We ate two of the quarters and placed the other two into two plastic cups.
At this point, I asked Meredith what she thought we could pour over the apple to mummify it. She immediately replied “salt”. Yep, she’s definitely internalizing a lot of what we’re doing. Ancient Egyptians actually used natron to absorb moisture out of the corpses and dry them out. It also increases the pH, which helps inhibit bacterial growth. A mixture of half baking soda and half salt is very close to natural natron. We used just over 1/3 cup of salt and 1/3 cup of baking soda.
Mix these together, and pour them over one of the apples. Meredith wanted to do this herself, but if you were wanting to be very exact, it would probably be best to hold the apple away from the edges of the cup a bit while pouring. There are a few places our natron mixture doesn’t completely cover the apple. I am just wanting to find some fun projects for Meredith to do, so I’m not too worried about it working perfectly.
Place both apples somewhere preferably where they won’t be disturbed too much and out of direct sunlight. We put them at the back of our pantry, where it’s nice and dark. We’ll check on the apple that’s not in the natron mixture next week, and once it’s really starting to rot (but preferably before it attracts any bugs or starts to smell, lol), we’ll pull the other apple out of the natron mixture and compare them.
Meredith was really excited about this experiment. The first thing she wanted to do this morning when we got up was check on her “mama apple”. (She knows that mummies are different than mommies, but doesn’t seem to quite realize that just because you can call a mommy a mama that doesn’t make a mummy a mama too hehe.) We pulled it out and of course there was barely any change, but she wanted to look and pointed out that it had started to brown a bit. I would say that so far this was a big hit, and something easy for preschoolers to do mostly themselves and to understand. I’ll update in a week or two (or more) when we see the final product.
Update: Go here to see the results.