The Suez Canal

Contributor: Brian Anthony. Lesson ID: 12292

Have you ever dug a hole in the garden or somewhere else by hand? Have you watched a building be constructed? Imagine digging a 101-mile-long hole without modern equipment! Journey on the Suez Canal!



learning style
personality style
Otter, Golden Retriever
Grade Level
Intermediate (3-5)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • What kind of tools would you want to dig out a canal?
  • Does it sound like a fun job?

See what digging the Suez Canal was like and then decide!

A canal is a waterway that connects two large bodies of water.

In times past, canals were really important because they were the fastest ways to move things and people over large distances. Think about it — if there were no highways, no trains, and no airplanes, water would be the way to go!

Even today, canals remain important. One of the most important canals in the world is the Suez Canal in modern-day Egypt.

Take a second look at the map in the beginning of the lesson and trace the Suez Canal from top to bottom. About 40 ships pass through that canal daily. That’s about 14,000 ships a year! Most of those ships are carrying cargo — products of every kind from all over the world.

  • Do you want to get an idea what it’s like to travel through the Suez Canal?

Watch Suez Canal Timelapse - Full Transit HD GoPro by Ivan Cehic (below). This is a time-lapse video, meaning the video makes the ship look like it is sailing much faster than it really is.

  • How long do you think it really takes for a ship to pass through the Suez Canal?

Watch the video and make your best guess:

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In reality, it takes about ten to sixteen hours for a ship to pass through the entire Suez Canal. As you read Suez Canal, courtesy of, write down notes to answer the following questions:

  • How long is the Suez Canal?
  • When did construction on the canal begin? When did it end?
  • Why is the Suez Canal so important?
  • Do you think that canals like the Suez Canal are more or less important than they were a hundred years ago? What makes you think so?
  • Why do you think some countries have fought over the Suez Canal over its history?
  • Now that you’ve collected a few more facts about the canal, what kinds of tools do you think were used to dig it?

You might be shocked to know that the Suez Canal is not exactly new. In ancient times, the Ptolemy rulers of Egypt actually built the first canal to connect the Red Sea with the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Can you imagine how they could have done such a thing without any modern machinery at all?

In the Got It? section, examine the tools and methods used to build the modern Suez Canal.

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