When you start to study ancient civilisations whether it’s the Egyptians, Mayans or Ancient Korea pyramids are a feature of them around the world. They are a great opportunity to combine a little history and a lot of maths in creative ways. So here we go a fun step-by-step guide on how to make a pyramid with learning opportunities for both maths and history.

Pinterest image for History Lesson Plan Building Pyramids

Pyramids in Ancient Civilizations

Pyramids were a feature of many Ancient Civilizations from the Egyptians with the famous pyramids of Giza which were tombs of the great Pharaohs to Mesoamerican cultures like the Mayan found in Mexico.

ancient mayan temple pyramid shaped structure in the jungle with an iguana in front

They were generally square-based and constructed so that although there were chambers inside they were mostly solid. Making them as part of a history unit study is a great way to review some mathematical concepts as well as to bring history to life.

one of the pyramids at giza in egypt with a pile of blocks infront

Here we make a Giza pyramid like those found in Ancient Egypt as part of our Ancient Egypt Unit Study.

Sugar Block Pyramid

finished sugar cube pyramid for unit study on ancient mayan civilisations

When the Egyptians built the pyramid they were bright white – unless you can easily get hold of 91 white 2×2 square Lego bricks then sugar cubes are the next best thing to use.

Make sure that your child’s hands are clean and that your surface is clean. You can use tongs to build the sugar pyramid that way these blocks can be reused again and again. Now lets get started making our model of the great pyramid.

Maths Knowledge Needed

Review – Multiplication and square numbers as well as 3d Shapes.

Why not use some multiplication eggs to quickly review this with your child.

Materials Needed for Building a Giza Pyramid

  • White board and pens
  • Sugar Cubes (you will need 91)
  • Plate to place under the bottom of the pyramid
  • Tongs if you wish to reuse the sugar cubes
child making a sugar cube pyramid on a plate

Reviewing Pyramids

Before you actually get building the pyramids with your child start by reviewing the look and appearance of the pyramids. You can start by picking up a book about ancient Egyptians or Mayans as part of your History Unit Study.

Get your child to draw how they think a pyramid looks. If your child is anything like the children I have done this with then you will find that they draw it in side profile.

child drawn 2d drawing of side profile of a pyramid from giza

Talk as they draw it about the shape is it 2 dimensional, 3 dimensional.

Now ask them to draw a view of the pyramid from the top down.

top down view of a square based pyramid built from block like ancient egypt drawn by a child

Notice how the pyramid is square shaped and each square is laid on top of the next getting smaller and smaller.

quickly sketched 3d version of a square based pyramid to show the layers for an ancient egypt and mayan unit study for homeschooling

If you want you can try and draw a 3D version – you may find it easier to do using some Isometric paper – you can find some to download and print here.

Plan the Pyramid

We will be making our pyramid level by level.

The first level will be 6×6.  Have your child write on their white board: Base 1- 6×6= 49

The second level will be 5×5.  Have them repeat this process for each level remembering to minus one number for each level.

In the end, they can add up all the bases to figure out how many bricks they will need to use.

laying the foundation square for constructing a square based pyramid from sugar cubes for a history unit study

Build a Pyramid

Now it’s time to build, set up the area and start by building the 6×6 square base then gradually add on the different layers until 1 small brick remains at the top and you have a square based pyramid constructed.

layering the squares of sugar cubes to make a pyramid for an ancient egyptian lesson

Make sure that the bricks overlap slightly so that you can see the steps at the sides of the pyramid as it goes up forming a perfect pyramid shape.

tween adding the final sugar cube to a square based pyramid

Books about Pyramids for Kids

We have included affiliate links to some of the products and resources as an associate we may earn from qualifying purchases.

We love to connect hands-on learning with some reading check out these books about pyramids for kids of all ages you may also find out Egyptian Fiction Books a great read as well.

placing the last sugar cube on top of a square pyramid

More Ideas for Egypt Studies

clay cartouches to make with kids for hands-on history

Make your own clay cartouches with a Hieroglyphic name.

History Unit Study Ancient Civilizations Pyramid Math and History
Author
Cerys Parker

Cerys is a marine biologist, environmental educator, high school teacher and mum. Realising that life doesn't have to be put on hold and you don't just have to survive whilst the kids are young she shares ideas to inspire you to LIVE with the kids, with activities to do together, recipes to cook and enjoy and family travel to make memories to last a lifetime.

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