The old saying is true: a picture is worth a thousand words. Especially in ancient times, writing with pictures--called hieroglyphics--has always been popular. Today we still use them once in awhile: I (heart) Fred. During the era of the ancient Egyptians, although they had a written form for use on everyday letters and accounts, much of their writing--especially in ritual settings--was done in hieroglyphics.
The Egyptians were very into symbols so using hieroglyphics made sense. Each picture has many different meanings depending on slight variations and what it is next to. The picture symbols could also be used to spell things out: the symbol for arm could also be used for the letter a. Also, body parts could be used as themselves or as the actions they performed. A mouth could mean mouth, talk, etc.
Hieroglyphics were also used in art to add extra symbolism. One statue of King Ramesses II shows him as a young child with his finger in his mouth. This is the same position used in hieroglyphics for the word mes, or child. He wears a sun (ra) disk on his head and holds a su plant in his hand. So the statue was made not only to resemble him but to spell out his name: Ra-mes-su or Ramesses.
Following is a sample dictionary and two sentences for you to try to translate. They are not very accurate, since we made them up, so please excuse any inadvertent connotations they may contain. They are meant to merely present a glimpse into the world of hieroglyphics.
For some real Hieroglyphics and Egyptian writing, check out Duke University's Egyptian Papyrus exhibit!