Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Who Built the Pyramids?

Chet Geering


Students process a variety of information on the pyramids at Giza and create an opinion essay which uses the information gathered as well as student feedback.


The student knows significant achievements in art and architecture in various urban areas and communities to the time of the Renaissance (e.g., the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, pyramids in Egypt, temples in ancient Greece, bridges and aqueducts in ancient Rome, changes in European art and architecture between the Middle Ages and the High Renaissance).


-[World History The Human Experience]. New York: Glencoe McGraw-Hill, 2001.
-[This Old Pyramid]. NOVA, 1994. (Or other video about the construction of the pyramids at Giza)
-Pictures of pyramids at Giza for bulletin board
-Student copies of the Pyramid Construction Essay Rubric (See Associated File)


1. Read text Chapter 2 (or appropriate chapter).
2. Prepare information on the two schools of thought on pyramid construction - ramps and rollers.
3. Select a movie on the pyramids that talks about construction.
4. Make sure students have had previous practice with the format of a 5-paragraph essay.
5. Copy the Pyramid Construction Essay Rubric for each student. (See Associated File)


1. Ask students the question, “How many of you have ever seen a pyramid?”

2. Refer students’ attention to the bulletin board so the pictures of the pyramids can be seen. Also refer students to a page of the textbook (page 49 of the textbook cited) which shows a picture of the Great Pyramid.

3. Ask the question, “What materials do you believe were used in the construction of these pyramids?”

4. Have each student come up with his/her own theory on how the pyramids were built. Be sure to emphasize that the students are only creating theories and that the students may change their minds later if they choose.

5. Divide the class into groups of three to five students.

6. Ask students, in their groups, to come up with ideas on how the pyramids were built.

7. Ask each group to explain and share their ideas with the class. Chart various answers on the board.

8. Explain the two popular theories on how the pyramids at Giza were built. These theories are the ramp and rollers. Students should take notes on these theories and ask questions.

9. Still in groups, ask students how they feel about these theories. Ask students if these theories are realistic and have them explain to the class why or why not.

10. Watch the movie and have students take notes. Tell the students to look for evidence that supports their theory about the construction of the pyramids.

11. In groups, have students discuss the movie. Students should be looking for evidence that proves the theory they proposed at the beginning of class on day one.

12. The discussion from the groups should now become class discussion so every group gets to hear the ideas of all the groups.

13. Once again, the teacher charts ideas on the board.

14. Provide information about the importance and significance of the pyramids as the student/teacher discussion continues.

15. Introduce the following assignment: Students write an essay on how they think the pyramids were constructed. Opinions must be justified with facts revealed in the class discussion, movie, group discussion, and student feedback. Notes should be used, and the essays should follow the 5-paragraph format.

16. Review the format of a 5-paragraph essay.

17. Hand out a copy of the Pyramid Construction Essay Rubric to each student. (See Associated File) Review the criteria with the students before they begin working on the essay.


The rubric for scoring the essay is contained in the associated file.

Web Links

Web supplement for Who Built the Pyramids?
Giza Pyramid

Attached Files

This file contains the Pyramid Construction Essay Rubric.     File Extension: pdf

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