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April 11, 2016

Clues to Queen Nefertiti’s Hidden Tomb – Lesson Plan


Could the famous ancient Egyptian queen secretly be hidden behind the tomb of her son, King Tut? Explore new developments in Egyptology and find out how archeologists may have recently uncovered clues about the location of Queen Nefertiti’s remains.

Essential question: Why does antiquity continue to play an important role in understanding who we are today?


Social studies, science

Estimated time


Grade Level

Middle or high school


  • Projector, computer with Internet
  • Notebooks and pens
  • Laptops, one per group of 3 to 4 students


Warm up activity: 

Brainstorm what you know about Queen Nefertiti as a class. Ask students why Nefertiti has piqued the interest of so many people over time. Watch the video below to learn a little more about Nefertiti and answer the discussion questions below.

1. Why was the marriage of Nefertiti and Akhenaten (Amenhotep IV) considered a departure from how royal marriages were typically carried out?

2. Why was Atenism, a new religion started by Akhenaten and Nefertiti, seen as revolutionary by ancient Egyptians? How do you think people today would react to the start of a new religion if it were voluntary to join? What about if they were forced to join?

3. Why do you think the famous bust of Nefertiti is highly regarded by many people throughout the world today?

Main activity:

Watch the PBS NewsHour video below to learn a little more about Nefertiti and complete the activity below.

  1. While videos are fun for students to watch, kids need to move too! In his article, “Too Much Sitting? Five Movement Strategies That Get Students Thinking,” Kenny C. McKee recommends combining Chalk Talks with gallery walks in order to get students on their feet. Check it out:
    • Working in groups of three to four, students should watch the NewsHour video on Nefertiti again (they may have to do this multiple times) or listen to the podcast located right below the video. This activity will help to develop deeper listening skills. If you’re short on time, or if you have English-language learners, it might be useful to use the transcript located below the video.
    • Ask students to write down 3-5 direct quotes from the story that sparked their interest in some way (it can be a fun fact or an opinion).
    • Go around the room as the students are working. Towards the end of gathering their quotes, choose one quote from each group; be sure not repeat a quote from another group. Ask students to write down their quote on a large piece of paper. Each group should post their quote around the room.
    • Students should then perform a gallery walk. Tell students while they may be used to seeing artwork in an art gallery, quotes have powerful meaning behind them, too! They do not have to stay in their group as they walk around the classroom/gallery.
      • You may want to include some music of what we think ancient Egyptian music may have sounded like while students walk around the room!
    • As students walk around the gallery, they should feel free to also carry out a conversation or Chalk Talk about how they feel regarding the quote. Do they agree or disagree with the person’s idea in the quote? What did they find interesting about the piece of evidence stated in the quote?
    • Students should then post their reactions to each quote using a post-it. One post-it per student per quote will suffice. Students should return to their groups when they are finished.
    • Ask a student from each group to read the post-its that pertain to their quote. You may want to remind the class of the essential question: Why does antiquity play an important role in understanding who we are today?
    • Tell your students to stay tuned as Egyptological news is always around the next column–corner, especially when it comes to Queen Nefertiti!

Extension Activities

Continue the discussion about the importance of studying ancient societies with this PBS NewsHour video.

  • Ask students why they think archaeologists would want to return to their previous excavation sites given some of the risks involved?
  • Does ancient architecture tell us more about ourselves as humans? Explain.

By Victoria Pasquantonio, education editor at PBS NewsHour, history and English teacher with thanks to Kenny C. McKee, instructional coach, writer and educational consultant in Asheville, North Carolina.

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  • Standards

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    Relevant National Standards:
      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.7.2 Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.2 Analyze the purpose of information presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and evaluate the motives (e.g., social, commercial, political) behind its presentation.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.9-10.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source.

      CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.11-12.2 Integrate multiple sources of information presented in diverse formats and media (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) in order to make informed decisions and solve problems, evaluating the credibility and accuracy of each source and noting any discrepancies among the data.

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