Cartouche Codes

Cartouche Codes lesson plan

Explore ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics! Invent your own secret code and make an authentic-looking cartouche.

  • 1.

    Hieroglyphics, an ancient Egyptian system of writing, began around 3000 BCE. At first, pictures (ideograms) represented words. With Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencils, write a short message using only pictures. What do you think of this way to communicate? Later, Egyptians used symbols to represent ideas and sounds. This was very difficult to learn, so only a few scribes could read and write. Try making a code for each alphabet letter. Then write your name using your code. With Erasable Colored Pencils, you can always correct any mistakes!

  • 2.

    <STRONG> Sculpt a nameplate</STRONG>. Egyptians used their symbols on cartouches--oval frames that were royal nameplates. Here’s one way to make your own cartouche. Shape Crayola Model Magic into a flat oval. Poke a hole at the top of the cartouche with a straw. Air-dry your cartouche overnight.

  • 3.

    <STRONG> Paint your cartouche</STRONG>. Cover your art area with newspaper. Paint your cartouche with gold Crayola Premier Tempera and brushes. Air-dry the paint.

  • 4.

    <STRONG> Add your name</STRONG>. Egyptians wrote with soot and a sharpened reed. To try a similar method, cut the end of a straw into a V. Write your coded name on the cartouche in black paint. Air-dry your name.

  • 5.

    <STRONG> Become instant royalty!</STRONG> Cut yarn long enough to make a necklace. Tape the ends together to wear it.


  • Children explore ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics and cartouches.
  • Children develop their own written code to represent their names.
  • Students sculpt and use their code to create their own cartouche.


  • What modern symbols do you know? Make a table of these symbols and write down their meaning.
  • Compare hieroglyphics with other ancient forms of writing.
  • Research the symbols Egyptians used. Write a message with these symbols. (Make sure you include the code so someone can interpret your message.)
  • Assessment: Children write, exchange, and decode each other’s messages.