Mummifying a chicken is fairly common in homeschooling circles, especially amongst those who use Story of the World for their history curriculum. Basically, you buy a whole chicken at the grocery store, put a bunch of salt, oil and spices on it, and leave it on your kitchen counter in a ziplock bag for several weeks.
I thought that sounded a bit gross, so I was thrilled to find this blog, which describes how to mummify a Barbie doll. “Brilliant!”, I thought. That is what we will do. Then I thought it might be funny to mummify a rubber chicken. They are cheap on Amazon, so I ordered a few, then decided to give the kids the Barbie option as well, since that would look more like a real mummy. I found some knock-off Barbies at the dollar store and we were in business.
We did this project with some friends. Some of the kids chose to mummify chickens and some chose Barbies. Here’s what we did.
First, we watched the IMAX film, Mummies: Secrets of the Pharoahs. We read some information about mummies from the Mummies and Pyramids: Magic Treehouse Research Guide. Then we got to work.
1. We washed the chickens/Barbies in “wine”. (Actually, white wine vinegar and water.) Then we dried them off.
2. We mixed oil and spices together (olive oil, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves) and painted it on the chickens and Barbies with paintbrushes.
3. To further “preserve” the bodies, we gave them a heavy sprinkling of salt.
4. Then we let them rest for a while, as they did in Egypt, except we didn’t do this for 40 days, like the Egyptians. We did for as long as it took us to make amulets and mix up paste. We made our amulets out of playdough. We attempted to copy some of the designs in the Magic Treehouse Research Guide, such as the eye of Horus and the stairs leading upwards. Keep in mind, these were made by a group of 5 to 7 year olds.
6. While the kids mixed up a paste of one part flour and three parts water, I washed the brown, oily goop off the mummies. Remember my goal of keeping the disgusting factor of this project down?
7. The kids dipped strips of cloth into the flour mixture and began wrapping. We used an old t-shirt and some other fabric remnants torn into strips.
8. After one layer, we put the amulets on the mummies, then wrapped another layer.
And there you have it: Mummified rubber chickens and Barbies.
This project corresponds with Story of the World, Volume 1: Ancient Times, Chapter 4: The Old Kingdom of Egypt.