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Since we had previously done a lot of study of dinosaurs, I introduced the concept of archaeology by comparing it to paleontology, like this...
"Paleontologists are people who study dinosaurs and look for dinosaur fossils. There are other people that also dig in the dirt looking for very old things, but they are not looking for dinosaur bones, they are looking for things that people left a long time ago. They are called archaeologists. They can find out things about history even if it wasn't written down."
Then we watched the 1 minute video National Geographic Kids: Archelogy Part 1. It's short, and leaves off like it's going to go to the next video, but that was sort of ideal for this lesson (I couldn't figure out which YouTube video was next in that series anyways. There are some other videos about the Egyptians and Mayans that were probably part of that film, but I'm saving those for when we get to those parts.)
Then we turned to Story of the World. I skipped the first paragraph (first two in the revised version), since the video and my intro had covered that. I asked my son to close his eyes and try to imagine things as I read...but after the first couple sentences he was saying he couldn't. So, impromptu, I grabbed some blank paper and a pencil and drew out a couple houses and a river, some scratch marked grass and some stick people from the story, and continued. He was able to listen then, and even asked some of the stick people to talk to him (that's his thing...we rarely read a book where SOMETHING on the page doesn't have a conversation with him).
When we got to the place where the grain dried up and the people moved, he got really sad about them, and I ended up adding another impromptu part where the family found a nice place to live with lots of rain further down the river, and the little boy grew up and had a family of his own.
Then we got to the part about the archaeologist finding the place the family had left. After reading the first few sentences I pulled out the book I had borrowed from library, Stone Age People and turned it to the page where there was a picture of an archaeological dig. I only needed to tweak the SOTW text a little bit to fit the picture (for instance, in OUR STORY he didn't just come back with tools...but brought people to help him). My son asked about the round object with a hole in it towards the bottom of the picture and I told him it was an oven and that that's how they knew they had found the kitchen of the house. The broken pottery on the table I said were pieces of the pot the mother in the story broke.
This worked really well...my son was able to pay attention much better with the pictures in front of him, and he asked lots of questions about what he saw.
THEN, I had a surprise for my son. Earlier this week I found some broken bricks in a corner of our yard...probably something the builders had left before we came. So I told him that I had found something in our yard...something from people who were here before we were, just like the archaeologist in the story. He got excited about that, and we went and looked at what I'd found and tried to figure out why it might have been there.
If you don't have any real life "artifacts" for your children to find in your yard the archaeology dig suggestion in the Activity Book sounds like great fun (though a bit time consuming to set up.)
Some of these I used in our lesson, and others we didn't,
but they would also make wonderful supplements.
National Geographic Kids: Archelogy Part 1 - INTRO (1:02 min) - Video I Used
(See all videos in this series here. Some you might want to save for later....or could view now as a preview of what's to come. Egypt, China, Pompeii)
Bible Adventures in the Holy Land: Archaelogy (13:26 min)
Talks about how archaeology is used to learn more about the Bible. (NOTE: There's an appeal for donations at the end you can skip (starts about minute 11:20), but it has a lot of neat pictures of the Holy Land in the background so you may just turn the sound down and keep watching.
Broken Pot Activity
Many things archaeologists find are broken. You can decorate a terra cotta pot with paint or markers, then break it in a pillowcase and try to put it together. You could also write on it with any ancient script, as broken pottery was the "paper" of commoners in many ancient society. You could combine this with the activity suggested in Story of the World for a fake "archaeological dig" with area divided by ropes by putting the pieces of the pot in this area (maybe even tossing the pot into the area to break it, then covering with dirt), but to simplify you could do this activity inside if you prefer, just doing the reconstruction and not the "finding." If you are using the Stone Age People book, as I did in the lesson above, it also has a section that explains techniques archaeologists use when reconstructing pottery (pg 60-61).
AIA Lesson Plans
There are some wonderful lesson plans with great activities at the Archaeological Institute of America.
Stone Age People
We used this book to illustrate this chapter and the following one "The Earliest People." It has excellent information about what we have learned about the daily life of early peoples from archaeology, illustrated with dioramas and children in costumes, and has many great crafts and even a recipe for kids to make. Only a couple pages are specifically about archaeology though.
NOTE: The beginning of this book covers evolution.
The 5,000 Year Old Puzzle
While we saved this book for a later chapter (it also fits well with the chapters on Egypt), this book would make a great supplement for this chapter as well. The story about a boy who accompanies his family on an archaeological dig draws on real records from a 1920's dig by famed Egyptologist Dr. George Reisner, and includes both drawn illustrations and photographs related to the actual historical events this story includes.