Archaeology: An Easy Unit Study
We are kicking off our year of Ancient History with an archaeology unit study.
It started with reading a book scheduled in our Sonlight Instructor Guide, and evolved to include other activities. I guess you could say we dug in! We found more books at the library, earned a Junior Ranger badge, interviewed an Archaeologist, dug up our own excavation site and reassembled our broken artifacts.
- Archaeologists Dig For Clues by Kate Duke
- Archaeology from DK Eyewitness
- Dinosaur Hunters by Kate McMullan
- Discovery in a Cave by Mark Dubowski
Junior Ranger Badge
Junior Rangers Badges are a favorite project for us. We enjoy finding them when we travel. There are also several available on the National Parks website which you can earn by mail, covering a variety of topics including Caves, Bats, and Archaeology. The online badges are designed to be completed at home, and include extra information to help you learn more. The downloadable kit includes a parent guide with additional extension activities and book list. Based on the ages of our kids we needed to complete 10 activities. We did a couple each day over a couple of weeks. Lynn and Cub did several more than AJ. They enjoyed the more challenging math and writing puzzles. We enjoyed imagining and documenting what we thought Archaeologists might think about some of the things we use everyday if they found them during a dig in the future.
To go along with some of our Junior Ranger pages and to make imagining artifacts easier we got out the play-doh and made our own pottery and creations. We talked about different ways to make pots and what different shapes might have been used for. The play-doh made several more appearances over the week as the kids rediscovered it.
Meet an Archeaologist
Thanks to Facebook I discovered one of my college friends is now an archaeologist! She is currently working on an excavation site in California. We were fortunate that she made time to skype with us and share about her job. We worked together at a Girl Scout Camp which prepared her to live in tents with no electricity or showers while she is working at the excavation site. Her coolest find has been from a underwater excavation: she found a skeleton with preserved hair and fingernails from the 1600s!
We also learned from her that digging at a site is actually a last resort. the digging actually destroys the site so other researchers cannot come later to study the area. The site she is working at was discovered because of the sunken holes in the ground and artifacts found on the ground, both being big clues to a trained archaeologist that there was something there in the past.
DIY Excavation Dig
We finished off our study with doing our own excavation. Everyone was excited to get their hands dirty and explore. This activity also doubles as a sensory themed bin as well. Some kids took more coaxing than others to dig deep to find the hidden “artifacts”.
- 1 bag of playground sand,
- various breakable flower pots or dishes or other objects to hide
- small trowels, shovels, sifters to dig with
We were so inspired by talking to an archaeologist that we decided to try it! I cracked a few different clay pots and painted some rocks to bury in a sand box. The kids used their trowels and sifters just like we read about to find the pieces. I didn’t tell them how many pieces were hidden. Lynn drew a grid in her notebook so she could document where she found each piece. After they found many of the pieces they sorted them to determine how many original objects were in the site. Pretending to be working in a museum lab they used glue to reassemble the clay objects, just like a real archaeologist!