How to Make Egyptian Reed Boats

The Story of the World, Volume I: Ancient Times. Chapter 2: Egyptians Lived on the Nile River.

Thus far, in our study of ancient Egypt, we keep seeing these beautiful and fascinating boats made of the reeds that grow along the Nile.

Firefly's coloring page, from Life in Ancient Egypt Coloring Book by John Green.

Even in the 2005 film, Mystery of the Nile, we saw these boats being used in modern times.  We decided to make our own miniature version using branches from a willow tree. You could use any type of bendable branch or reed. I saw another website that used reeds that grew by a stream.

Step 1.  Cut a bunch of branches, the longer the better. This pile of branches looked like a lot but only made two small boats.

Step 2.  Pull leaves off of branches.

Step 3.  Cut branches into bundles, about 7 or 8 inches long.

Step 4.  Use a branch to tie a knot in the middle.

Step 5.  Tie knots at ends and wherever else is needed to hold the bundle firmly in place. Trim excess around knots.

Step 6.  Twist a rubber band around each end to pull them close together.  Let dry for 48 to 72 hours.

Step 7.  Remove rubber band and your boat is ready for play.

I have the feeling that the knotted ties holding the reeds together are not going to last much longer so we’ll replace them with rubber bands when that happens.  If you want your boat to be more authentically brown, you can dry the branches before making the boats.  A food dehydrator might speed up this process, or perhaps placing on a baking sheet and baking in the oven at a low temperature, around 200 degrees fahrenheit, would also work.

My kids have been playing with the boats as well as figures from an Ancient Egypt Toob while I read to them from Egyptian Myths.  They love acting out the stories.  Without these props, I don’t think they would’ve engaged as well in hearing the stories but with them, they are excitedly playing, asking great questions, and retaining the information.

When we are done with a story, the boats and figures get put away until next time because I want the kids to remain excited about playing with these special items and also I don’t want to have to search all over the house for them when it’s time to read another story.

Each night, as we read the stories, their play becomes more elaborate, as one child runs off to grab a boat from our bathtub toy collection and another to find the hippo that keeps getting mixed in with our dinosaur set.  They add these to the rest of the props and as I read, a great battle is taking place right next to me.  I love seeing their imaginations in process.

Comments

  1. Very cool!!!

  2. Sounds great! I’ll keep this idea in mind when we start our SOTW adventure this fall!

  3. Looks great! We just finished Chapter 2, and we made a boat out of grass, but this is much better!

  4. I think it’s so cool that you made your own boats. Have you heard of Thor Heyerdahl? He was a Norwegian who made historical boats. The Kon Tiki (his most well known) was one he made in the South American style and sailed from South America to the Polynesian Islands. He also built and tested reed boats.

  5. Love this! I also think it’s very smart to have the figurines available for your kids to play with while you’re reading the stories!
    Thanks for linking up at LWWD.

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