Cartouche Codes


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. Sculpt a nameplate. 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. Paint your cartouche. Cover your art area with newspaper. Paint your cartouche with gold Crayola Premier Tempera and brushes. Air-dry the paint.

4. Add your name. 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. Become instant royalty! Cut yarn long enough to make a necklace. Tape the ends together to wear it.

Safety Guidelines

Adult supervision is required for any arts & crafts project. Observe children closely and intervene as necessary to prevent potential safety problems and ensure appropriate use of arts and crafts materials. Some craft items, particularly beads and buttons, are potential choking hazards for young children. Avoid use of such small parts with children younger than 3 years. Craft items such as scissors, push pins and chenille sticks may have sharp points or edges. Avoid use of materials with sharp points by children younger than 4 years. Read all manufacturers' safety warnings before using arts and craft supplies.

Crayola Modeling Materials including Crayola Model Magic®, and Model Magic Fusion™, Crayola Air-Dry Clay, and Crayola Dough—

  • Keep away from open flames. Do not use to make candleholders, hot plates, trivets, or other similar objects that will be used or placed near fire and other heat sources.
  • Do not put in an oven, microwave, or kiln.
  • Do not make into vessels/containers that will hold unpackaged food.
  • The use of modeling material to make items that look like food is discouraged for children younger than age 5 to avoid their confusion with real food.
  • Unless sealed with a water-resistant glaze, do not make projects exposed to or immersed in water, such as boats or outdoor bird feeders. They would disintegrate when exposed to moisture.
  • Crayola Dough—contains gluten (wheat flour) as an ingredient.
  • Crayola Air-Dry Clay, Crayola Model Magic and Model Magic Fusion are gluten-free. However, they are produced on the same machinery as Crayola Dough which does contain gluten. Although the machines are cleaned prior to the start of each production run, there is a slight possibility that trace amounts of gluten from Crayola Dough may be present in the other modeling compound products. For information regarding specific ingredients or allergic concerns, please call our Consumer Affairs department at 1-800-272-9652 weekdays between 9 AM and 4 PM Eastern Standard Time.

Crayola Washable Paints—Not for use as body/face paint.

Scissors—ATTENTION: The cutting edges of scissors are sharp and care should be taken whenever cutting or handling. Blunt-tip scissors should be used only by children 4 years and older. Pointed-tip scissors should be used only by children 6 years and older.

String-Like Materials—Includes string, raffia, lacing, yarn, ribbon, and other similar material. Children 3 years and younger should not be given any string-like material that is longer than 12 inches. Close adult supervision is essential whenever children use string-like material. When crafts are to be worn around the necks of children 8 years and younger, attach the ends of the “string-like material” with clear adhesive tape, which allows easy release of the bond if the craft becomes entangled or caught on equipment. For children older than 8 years, the ends of the “string-like material” may be tied and knotted.


  • 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.

Related Lesson Plans

Lesson Plans

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crayola supplies
  • Paint Brushes
  • Erasable Colored Pencils
  • Premier™ Tempera Paint
  • Model Magic®
  • Pointed Tip Scissors
household supplies
  • recycled newspaper
  • white paper
  • yarn
  • paper towels
  • container(s) of water
  • clear adhesive tape
  • plastic drinking straws



  • Grades 4 to 6
  • Special Needs


  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Visual Arts


  • Multiple Sessions


  • 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.


Research Canada Standards
Research UK Standards
Research U.S. Standards