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Model Miniature Mummies
Model self-hardening material over a plastic box to make a mummy case which opens to reveal a gauze-wrapped figure inside.

Susan Slavik, Ph.D., Cass Elementary School, Livonia


heavy duty aluminum foil in 6" x 12" squares (fold 6" x 12" square in half if using regular weight)
Paris-craft gauze strips or plaster-impregnated gauze bandages
1/2" wide masking tape
2" x 6" pieces of scrap cardboard for project storage

self-hardening modeling material or paper clay
white glue
impression tools (such as forks, ends of spoons, table knives, dissecting needles, compass points, tongue depressors, etc.)
empty plastic boxes (which held acrylic paint tubes; or other small rectangular boxes - about 3" x 6")
gold tempera paint
pearlescent tempera paint in assorted colors (these paints are somewhat expensive but produce a finished product kids love)
#7 paint brushes (size included with boxed paints)
fine detail brushes
extra fine line markers

Have on hand:
newspaper to cover work surface
small bowls or water containers for dipping plaster gauze
pencils, ball point pens
sketch paper or mummy outline worksheets (
Click for sample)
small plastic bags for project storage
mixing trays or egg cartons to hold paint
paint shirts

Mummies Slavik Diagram2This project takes my 5th and 6th grade students 8 45-minute class periods to complete.

Session 1: Begin Mummy

Show finished sample mummy and case created by the teacher. Use books and slides [see Preparation and Resources] to discuss the mummification process as a technology and as it represents the ancient Egyptian belief in an afterlife. Demonstrate how to make the foil armature for the mummy model:

  • Fold 6 x 6" foil squares in half (see diagram)
  • Make 2 vertical cuts 2" long 2" from each edge
  • Crush middle of the foil below the cuts to form the waist
  • Form arms from the two outside sections at the top
  • Gently roll center section between arms into a round head
  • Shape lower half of foil into a long form (bend for feet)

To Store for next session:
Write student name on cardboard scraps and tape mummy to scrap (by using a long piece of tape across body)

Session 2: Complete Mummy
Cut 6" wide plaster gauze into 1/2" strips, dip in water and apply wet to foil armature. Complete mummy by wrapping each arm individually, bending at the elbows and crossing arms at the chest. Re-tape wet mummy on scrap cardboard and allow to air dry.

Session 3: Teacher Builds Demonstration Project and Students Sketch Mummy Case Designs
Students trace over or outline penciled designs with a dark marker. [click to see mummy outline worksheet]

Session 4: Students Begin Mummy Cases
Label plastic box armatures and plastic storage bags with student name. Inform students of advantages and disadvantages of paper clay. [see Preparation and Resources] Form cube of paper clay into a coil and place around outside edge of plastic box lid (box bottom will hold mummy but is not covered with paper clay so can be put away for now. Students need to put hand inside of lid to provide stability when pressing clay on outside of lid); flatten to 1/4" with tongue depressor or table knife. Use more flattened coils of paper clay to cover the surface of the plastic box lid; paper clay will stick to plastic but remember to add a bead of white glue where one section of paper clay joins another. Form the head, headdress, arms, feet, etc. with paper clay and join additional parts with glue. Use impression tools to sharpen details -eyes, nose, incised decorative patterns and lines. Place mummy case in plastic bag if not completed during class period

Session 5: Completion of Sculpture of Mummy Cases
Students who finish early can practice writing of hieroglyphs, for inclusion in their finished design.

Session 6: Painting of Mummy Cases
Gold tempera paint, used for the base coat brushed on. This dries rapidly; detail painting can begin immediately. Small amounts of pearlescent tempera paint, used for details, are poured into egg cartons.

Session 7: Completion of Painted Details
After paint has dried completely, outline eyes, emphasize important shapes with extra fine line black magic markers. Add hieroglyphs with markers. Remove mummy from storage card and place inside bottom of case, then cover with decorated case top.

Session 8 Critique, Evaluation and Exhibit
see Assessments

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