Gaming in Ancient Egypt

Celeste Borowiak Timulak at Parkside Elementary School asked for an excel grant last year for a wonderfully fun and inventive social studies (and art) project. She told us “For social studies, each year I teach my sixth graders how to play the Ancient Egyptian game Senet.   It is a game that takes strategy, luck and knowledge of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs.  It is a game that, without fail, students enjoy and teach others.  During any downtime throughout the day or during recess, students ask if they can play. It was just recently I looked at my game boards and pieces and realized how tattered they all looked and remembered that some students asked to take a game set home during conferences last year.

It was then that I got my idea.”

Gaming in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian game Senet

I would like my students to create and design their own Senet board and game pieces.  Using our classroom models, they would create a game board with all the pieces.   To do this, I would need wood, paint, popsicle sticks, clear round glass cabochons, black permanent markers, and possibly funding for photo developing to make their cabochons unique.   Students would then be able to use these games in the classroom and eventually take them home to share with their family. Just knowing how my students enjoy playing Senet, I know this art and social studies activity would be valuable to them.

The Results? Earlier this year, we heard from Celeste and she told us her students love this game and being able to personalize it and to keep it was an amazing gift to them. The students took such pride in it. Months after they made it and brought it home, I asked the kids what they did over the weekend. One of my students said, “My grandpa and I played several rounds of Senet using my board.” It is a game that they keep playing at home. They truly love it and it gives them the opportunity to get people together and play an “Old Fashion” game instead of those they might find on a computer. It also shares an ancient culture. We had an Ancient Egyptian Family Night where students displayed and played their Senet games with their families.

Thank you, Celeste, for sharing your story. Every year when we start promoting the Excel Grants to teachers, we say  “the Highline Schools Foundation grants teachers the funds they need to support unique and innovative programs in their classrooms that their school’s budget can’t provide” and THIS is exactly what we’re talking about! What a unique and inventive way to engage our students in history (gasp) and social students (eek) and art in a fun way. We are looking forward to reading your next proposed project! Remember – all teachers in Highline Public Schools are eligible to receive a grant and the online application will be available on Tuesday, September 9 on our website. Click HERE for more information.


How can you help? We welcome all levels of donation, whether it’s a one-time gift or a monthly donation – $5.00 or $500 – every gift is a GREAT gift and so much appreciated in support of the students and teachers in Highline Public Schools. Click HERE to make a donation today!

Since 1999, the Highline Schools Foundation has been supporting innovation and excellence in Highline Public Schools. Our funding priorities focus on programs to improve academic achievement, supporting college and career readiness, grants to teachers for engaging classroom projects, the arts, athletics, and programs that keep students in school and productive. Highline is a district full of need and opportunity. The Highline Schools Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated to all schools in our district—our goal is to help as many students as possible be successful!

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