How to Make a Mummy STEM Activity + Book List

The ancient Egyptians had one wish... they wished they could live forever.  They believed pharaohs would need their bodies in the afterlife so, they'd mummify the pharaohs' bodies to prevent them from decomposing and rotting away.

Making a mummy was a long and tedious process that could take months to complete. First, the body was packed in a salt called natron.  This allowed the body to dry out and for the moisture to be removed.  Once it was completely dry, the body was covered with scented spices and oils, then wrapped in cloth.  Finally, the body... now called a mummy... would be placed in a coffin and buried in its final resting place.

For obvious reasons, we can't mummify bodies these days... we'd be in serious legal trouble if we tried.  But we can recreate the process using apples, salt, and baking soda.  Keep reading to see some photos of an apple I mummified and to learn how to mummify an apple of your own!

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

How to Make a Mummy Directions

You will need:
  • salt
  • baking soda
  • apples
  • sandwich bag
  • optional: silica gel packs

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

Step One

Take an apple and carve a face into it.  Peeling the apple is optional.  If you peel the apple, it will look different from the photos in this post... but no worries... you'll still be able to make a unique-looking apple mummy!

Possible STEM extension: Use a combination of peeled and unpeeled apples and observe their changes throughout the mummification process.

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

Step Two

Put the apple in the sandwich bag.  Combine one part salt to one part baking soda and pour the mixture over the apple.  Shake well until all moist areas are covered.  Set aside in a cool dry place for a week.  You can look at the apple during that time, but do not open the bag.

Note: Someone told me you can toss little silica gel packs... the kind that comes in medicine bottles... into the bag to speed up the process.  I've never tried it, but am curious if it works or not.  If you try it, please let me know if they make a difference!

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

This photo shows how the salt and baking soda will stick to the moist areas of the apple as it dehydrates.  Be sure to put enough salt and baking soda into the bag to cover the whole apple.

Week One

When the week is over, remove the apple from the bag and carefully brush the salt and baking soda off of it.  Throw out the salt and baking soda that's in the bag.  How does the apple look?  How does it smell?  How does it feel?  If you can see, smell, and feel moisture left in the apple, put it back into the bag with some fresh baking soda and salt.  Check it again in another week.

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

There are some obvious changes in my apple. The salt and baking soda are slowly absorbing the liquid from the apple, causing its skin to darken and wrinkle. The apple feels squishy and soft because it's starting to decompose. What will it look like and feel like in another week? The white spots you see aren't moldy... they are spots where the salt and baking soda stuck and where I didn't want to scrape out.

Week Two

After two weeks in the salt and baking soda, our red delicious apple looks more like a prune than an apple.  The apple isn't as squishy as it was last week, but it still has some softness to it.  I took my friend's advice and threw some silica gel packs into the bag and it definitely helps.  The only drawback... some of the ink from the gel packs got onto the apple.  The green you see in the apple's left eye isn't moldy... it's ink.  Since there's still some moisture left in this apple, I'm putting it back into the back with some salt, baking soda, and more silica packs.  One more week!

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

Remember... it took MONTHS to make a mummy.  You can wait one more week!

Week Three

After three weeks, the apple continues to look more like a prune than an apple.  When I took the apple out of the bag, its wrinkles were caked with salt and baking soda.  I tried to brush that salt and baking soda off it, but they wouldn't come off. 

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

Since the salt and baking soda couldn't be wiped off easily, I rinsed the apple with some running water.  Now it really looks like a prune!

Recreate the mummification process & make an apple mummy using apples, salt, baking soda. Enrichment activity for Ancient Egypt social studies units.  #kellysclassroomonline

After three weeks, these apple mummies are ready to be sent home with your students.  They aren't completely mummified, but they are mummified enough for your students to have grasped the concept of how mummies are made.  Of course, you can continue the process of keeping the apple in salt and baking soda for a few more weeks if you'd like.  But I'm going to call it done for this blog post.


Five Children's Books About Mummies

Are you looking for some books to extend your students' knowledge about mummies?  Take a look at these five books!  

1. Everything Ancient Egypt by Crispin Boyer

Author's Summary: The ancient Egyptians thought big and built bigger, leaving behind monuments and messages that have endured for five millennia despite tomb robbers and the ravages of time. Pyramids and mummies tell us about their deaths, but new technologies are peeling the wraps off their mysterious lives. In Everything Ancient Egypt, kids will discover all they want to know about the mysteries of ancient Egypt and learn new weird, wacky, and fascinating facts as well. Sections in the book include Rise of the Pharaohs, Death and the Afterlife, Life in Ancient Egypt, and Fun With Ancient Egypt (a section that provides readers with exciting hands-on learning!). Stunning photos and an interactive glossary round out this exciting and engaging new series addition.

Title: Everything Ancient Egypt
Author: Crispin Boyer
Publisher: National Geographic for Kids
Date: February 14, 2012
Pages: 64


Available from these retailers:
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Where Are the Great Pyramids? by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler

Authors' Summary: The Great Pyramids of Egypt--all kids over the age of five recognize them instantly. These massive tombs were built thousands of years ago, and still no one knows exactly how the ancient Egyptians did it! In this informative account, Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler tell the story of the powerful pharaohs who commissioned the pyramids at Giza and offer a fascinating look at the culture of the afterlife in ancient Egypt, explaining exactly how mummies were made. Easy to read and scrupulously researched, this explores the mysteries that have attracted countless visitors to the pyramids for centuries.

Title: Where Are the Great Pyramids?
Authors: Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
Illustrator: Jerry Hoare
Publisher: Penguin Workshop
Date: September 15, 2015
Pages: 112


Available from these retailers:
(affiliate links)

1,000 Facts About Ancient Egypt by Nancy Honovich

Author's Summary: Mummies, pyramids, pharaohs, King Tut! Kids everywhere are fascinated by the wonders of ancient Egypt, and this colorful reference book is jam-packed with 1,000 fascinating facts.  From the Great Pyramid and the Valley of the Kings to the Nile River and Cleopatra, discover all you have ever wanted to know about this ancient civilization. Unearth ancient hieroglyphs and their meanings, find out what was in King Tut's tomb, and get insights about the science of mummification. Learn about ancient Egyptian gods and famous pharaohs, and follow Egypt's battles for power in the world. After this deep dive into Egyptology, you'll be able to dazzle your friends and family with your newfound knowledge.

Title: 1,000 Facts About Ancient Egypt
Author: Nancy Honovich
Publisher: National Geographic Kids
Date: February 12, 2019
Pages: 96


Available from the following retailers:
(affiliate links)

DKfindout! Ancient Egypt by DK Children

Author's Summary: How big was the Egyptian Empire? Why was the Nile so important? How were mummies made? Find out the answers to these questions and more in DKfindout! Ancient Egypt, which features photographs of artifacts and relics, as well as maps and illustrations depicting the structure of Egyptian society, from famous pharaohs to common farmers, and the extent of their civilization. This book explores every facet of Ancient Egypt’s iconic culture, including its many gods and goddesses, its hieroglyphic writing system, and its most well-known landmarks, like pyramids, obelisks, and sphinxes. From papyrus to pottery, DKfindout! Ancient Egypt details this civilization’s lasting impact in a unique and fun way.

Title: DKfindout! Ancient Egypt
Publisher: DK Children
Date: January 10, 2017
Pages: 64


Available from the following retailers:
(affiliate links)

Tut's Mummy: Lost... and Found by Judy Donnelly

Author's Summary: Beginning with the death of Tutankhamen, the book moves forward to archaeologist Howard Carter's discovery of the tomb. Information about ancient Egyptian life is interspersed in a clear, smooth fashion throughout. A good way to get readers into non-fiction.

Title: Tut's Mummy: Lost... and Found
Author: Judy Donnelly
Illustrator: James Watling
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Date: May 12, 1988
Pages: 48


Available from the following retailers:
(affiliate links)

To learn more about how mummies are made, watch the video below by Fast Facts:


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