Learning Archeology and Native Cultures
Just another way to get kids involved
Step One: Divide students into groups of three or four. Purchase one small clay flower pot or dish for each group.
Step Two: Have students create an alphabet without using letters or numbers. Tell them not to share their ideas with other groups or tribes. They may use symbols, animals, lines, etc but they must have a complete alphabet.
Step Three: Create a message, motto, or saying that represents their group or tribe.
Step Four: Label, draw, paint that message in their newly created "alphabet" on their clay pot. Have each member "sign" the pot or dish using only their symbol alphabet.
Step Five: Bag each item in a large ziplock bag. Have students put a strip of paper in bag with their names in 'normal' letters.
Step Six: Label each bag by group number and class period. Mark in grade book who belongs to each bag.
Step Seven: After the classes are gone for the day, drop, break, or smash each pot or dish (while in the ziplock bag). These become your artifacts.
Step Eight: Lay bags out on tables. All bags from one class will now go to another class so that there will be no hints as to whose bag it is.
Step Nine: From the bags of each class, pull and mix a few shards. You want each bag to have the parts to its pot plus one or two from another bag and missing a piece or two. You might also want to do away with a small piece or two. In a real dig site, you may not find everything.
Step Ten: When the class returns the next day they will get a bag of artifacts from another "tribe's site". Have students draw each piece with its symbols for later research and exchange. They must now reconstruct the pottery, figure out the language and the message. They may also have to figure out who has any of their missing peices or work around the missing shards.
Step Eleven: Have them present their findings and what the writtings mean or what they think it means.
Step Twelve: Make copies of each groups drawings and findings. Return that info to the original group for study and discussion.
Other suggestions: Make a chart showing each "language". Display the artifacts and research.