Search form

Working 9 to 5 in Ancient Egypt


Following Directions

Return to Bring Ancient History to Life!

  • Arts & Humanities

  • Architecture, Art History, Language Arts, Literature,Dance, Music, Visual Arts
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Social Studies
    World History


6-8; 9-12; Advanced

Brief Description

By creating a pyramid diagram that reflects the social order in ancient Egypt, students can compare the ancient social order with the social order in our world today.


  • work cooperatively in groups.
  • research four roles or jobs, selected from a list of 12.
  • share information about their research.
  • arrange the 12 jobs or roles in order of social importance on a pyramid diagram.
  • create a pyramid diagram to reflect some jobs in today's culture.
  • write essays in which they compare and contrast the cultural and social order in ancient Egypt with today's social order.


ancient, Egypt, society, pharaoh, diagram, pyramid, culture, civilization

Materials Needed

  • paper or index cards
  • a variety of materials about ancient Egypt from print and/or online sources

Lesson Plan

Many kinds of workers contributed to the civilization that the ancient Egyptians built. In this activity, students explore the different roles that people might have played in ancient Egypt.

Before starting the activity, write each of the following 12 "jobs," or positions in society, on a piece of paper or a blank index card:

  • craftspeople
  • doctors
  • engineers
  • farmers
  • high priests
  • nobles
  • pharaoh
  • priests
  • scribes (writers)
  • soldiers
  • tomb builders
  • vizier
Put the 12 pieces of paper into a container.

Organize students into groups of four. Have each student in the first group draw a card from the container, record his or her role in ancient Egypt, and return the cards to the container. Repeat the procedure with each group. Each student in each group will have a different role to play; students in one group might have peers in another group who will be investigating the same role or job.

Students in each group pool their cards. The four members of each group are responsible for using print and online sources to gather information about all four of the roles or jobs their team has drawn. Give students two or three class periods to complete their research. As students do the research, they should consider the following question:

Based on the information you have been able to gather, where on the social scale do you think the people who held those positions stood? Which of the four positions you are investigating probably was the most important, had the highest prestige, or was held in the highest regard?
Challenge students to envision a class structure and to organize the jobs or roles they research in order of their importance.

When students complete their research, write all 12 roles or jobs on a board or chart. One job or role at a time, ask students to tell you what they learned about the people who held those positions. Students can take notes, or you can make notes on the board or chart. As students learn about the roles their group did not explore, they should try to envision where each group might have fit into the hierarchy of class or importance in the Egyptian culture.

Next, have each group draw a triangle on a sheet of paper. Students will transform this triangle, which happens to be in the shape of an Egyptian pyramid, into a diagram reflecting the ancient Egyptian culture. Ask: Who was the most important person in Egyptian culture? Who was next in importance? Explain that those positions should appear near the top of the pyramid. Ask: What were the more common jobs held by the largest number of people? Explain that those jobs should appear near the bottom of the chart. Have students talk about the jobs in their groups as they use their pyramids to create a diagram of Egyptian class structure.

Now bring the groups together to share their diagrams and their thoughts. Was there a consensus or were there differences in the hierarchy in which the student groups placed the jobs?

Finally, you might want to share the online resource Ancient Egyptian Social Life, at which students will find a diagram offering a view of where people who filled each role or job stood in the social order.


Students create pyramid structures that reflects some of the jobs in today's society. Then they write brief essays comparing the social structure in ancient Egypt with the social structure they see in society today. Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards


  • GRADES 5 - 8
    NA-M.5-8.9 Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture

    GRADES 9 - 12
    NA-M.9-12.9 Understanding Music in Relation to History and Culture

FINE ARTS: Visual Arts

  • GRADES 5 - 8
    NA-VA.5-8.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures

    GRADES 9 - 12
    NA-VA.9-12.4 Understanding the Visual Arts In Relation to History and Cultures


MATHEMATICS: Connections

  • GRADES Pre-K - 12
    NM-CONN.PK-12.3 Recognize and Apply Mathematics in Contexts Outside of Mathematics


  • GRADES 5 - 8
    NS.5-8.7 History and Nature of Science

    GRADES 9 - 12
    NS.9-12.7 History and Nature of Science


  • GRADES 5 - 12
    NSS-WH.5-12.2 Early Civilizations and the Rise of Pastoral Peoples
    NSS-WH.5-12.3 Classical Traditions, Major Religions, and Giant Empires

See more lesson ideas in Education World's History Center.

Return to the Bring Ancient History to Life! lesson plan page.