Save the Sphinx!

Save the Sphinx! lesson plan

Egypt’s Great Sphinx may be the original lion king! Invite your students to join archaeologists working to conserve this amazing ancient monument.

  • 1.

    Invite your class to explore the ancient Egyptian treasure, the Great Sphinx. The 4,500-year-old monument has a king’s head and a lion’s body. Ask students to find out what the Sphinx was made of and how it was constructed. What were the builders’ challenges? Provide several paintings and pictures. Use Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils to sketch the Great Sphinx from different angles and in detail. To make corrections, just erase!

  • 2.

    Working in small groups, have students brainstorm how to construct a model of the Great Sphinx. Will they build it as it looked originally or as it looks today?

  • 3.

    To create the shape of the Sphinx, suggest students construct a base (armature) using small boxes and balls of recycled newspaper. Individual pieces can be taped in place. Provide Crayola Model Magic to each group for covering the exterior of the armature. A face, headdress, beard, and other details can be added as determined by group members. Craft sticks can be used to make fine lines. A comb or similar tool can be used to texturize the structure. Air-dry the sphinx projects overnight.

  • 4.

    Groups will need to cover their work areas with recycled newspaper for the next step: painging. Provide Crayola Tempera Paint for students to paint their sculptures. Suggest the mixing of gold, white, and brown Crayola Premier Tempera to get an authentic limestone color. Paint the Sphinx with Crayola Brushes. Air-dry overnight.

  • 5.

    Save the Sphinx! The Great Sphinx is not faring very well today. Encourage student groups to investigate how the environment and human behavior has affected this monument. If you were an anthropologist, how would you recommend saving the Sphinx? Invite groups to write their ideas on cards and display them with models.

  • 6.

    Provide time in the school day's schedule for groups to share their learning about the Great Sphinx with classmates. Display models prominently in the classroom or school corridor.


  • LA: Read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grade level text complexity band independently and proficiently.
  • LA: Participate in collaborative conversations with diverse partners about grade level topics and texts with peers and adults in small and larger groups.
  • LA: Participate in shared research and writing projects.
  • LA: Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.
  • MATH: Know relative sizes of measurement units within one system of units including km, m, cm, kg, g; lb, z; l, ml; hr, min, sec. Within a single system of measurement, express measurements in a larger unit in terms of a smaller unit.
  • SCI: Ask testable questions about the effects of moving water on the rate of erosion under various conditions and plan and carryout investigations to observe and document the effects.
  • SS: Describe ways in which language, stories, folktales, music, and artistic creations serve as expressions of culture and influence behavior of people living in a particular culture.
  • SS: Identify and use various sources for reconstructing the past, such as documents, letters, diaries, maps, textbooks, photos, and others.
  • VA: Select media, techniques, an processes; analyze what makes them effective or not effective in communicating ideas; and reflect upon the effectiveness of choices.
  • VA: Intentionally take advantage of the qualities and characteristics of art media, techniques, and processes to enhance communication of experiences and ideas.
  • VA: Use subjects, themes, and symbols that demonstrate knowledge of contexts, values, and aesthetics that communicate intended meaning in artworks.
  • VA: Describe and place a variety of art objects in historical and cultural contexts.


  • Possible classroom resources include: Secrets Of The Sphinx by James Cross Giblin; What Life was Like on the Banks of the Nile: Egypt 3050 - 30 BC edited by Denise Dersin; If I Were a Kid in Ancient Egypt: Children of the Ancient World by Cobblestone Publishing
  • Encourage students to make a pedestal for their model of the Great Sphinx using a recycled foam produce tray. On one lip of the tray, write the name of your model. On the opposite lip, write one or two significant facts about this artwork.
  • Encourage students to make a pedestal for their model of the Great Sphinx using a recycled foam produce tray. On one lip of the tray, write the name of your model. On the opposite lip, write one or two significant facts about this artwork.
  • Working in small groups, students create a map of Ancient Egypt. Sketch in significant landforms, including the Nile River. Identify the location of pyramids and the Graph Sphinx. Discuss with teammates the possible reasoning for the placement of each of these artworks.
  • What is limestone? Research the history of limestone. Brainstorm with teammates why the Ancient Egyptians used this material when sculpting the Great Sphinx. Identify other natural and sculpted limestone treasures. How have environmental as well as human factors transformed these treasures?
  • As a team of students, explore efforts to protect, preserve, and rebuild monuments made of limestone.