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Thank you to Bailey Summers for providing information for the article.

Ancient Near-East clay tablets imprinted with cuneiform, accordion-folded booklets from ancient China, and hieroglyphic rubbings from ancient Egypt; all artifacts and replicas that students from Amelia Earhart’s fifth-graders had hands-on experience examining during their lesson with a representative from UVU’s library.

Students passed the artifacts and replicas from peer to peer as the presenter explained that they held ancient texts, each thousand years old. Students discussed and examined a progressive history of written texts, tracing the separate cultural roots of writing across several continents. From Mesopotamian pictorial signs written via impressions of wet clay with reed styluses to incised rock art, to reed-brush writings, and ivory tablets in Egypt, to woodblock-printed, concertina-fold booklets in China, students received an immersive history lesson on ancient inscription practices and the progression of written text.

Students then received a template for Egyptian hieroglyphics for their corresponding English alphabetic counterparts and wrote their names down in hieroglyphics using the key. Students liked comparing their hieroglyphic characters and sharing their names’ cultural history.

World History isn’t usually covered in 5th grade, but Amelia Earhart couldn’t pass up an opportunity to help students better appreciate the value of reading, writing, books, and how humanity progressed technologically to contemporary archival practices.

“Students are still talking about the lesson,” shared Brooke Summers, a fifth-grade teacher at Amelia Earhart. 

She pointed to a student’s desk where a student had taped their hieroglyphic name below their desk’s name tag.

“I still have kids writing messages in code on their homework assignments, asking if I can decode their secret messages.” 

There’s something poignant about our youth still using hieroglyphics now, excited at the prospect of writing. Like standing in the middle of the road, it’s interesting to see the path traveled so far and to think of where the future might lead our youth.

We thank our teachers and UVU for creating an experience to foster a desire to read and write in our future readers, writers, and archivists.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei