Students in Ms. Pade’s Grade 3 class recently went digging for information as part of a creative archaeology activity connected to their unit of inquiry on "Curating History.“ The idea for the lesson originally came from a parent at the school who was an archaeologist, but has since been adapted by Ms. Pade to include three main parts.
First, groups of students receive several "artefacts"– small items that Ms. Pade has collected from around her house or at school – and then come up with a creative story about the people who used them. Stories are then sealed in an envelope, and the artefacts are buried in a shoebox full of dirt.
Students next learn about what archaeologists do before exchanging boxes to begin their excavations. Working in groups, students take turns serving in specific roles connected to the activity: "Excavators" dig; "cartographers" map out the find on a grid; "archivists" keep a record of the important characteristics of the artefacts, including length, width, color, and texture; and "recorders" jot down first impressions of what the artefacts might say about the society. Jobs rotate after every find.
After excavating, the groups use all their notes to create their own story of the people before opening the sealed envelope to compare their story to the original. "This activity really accomplishes many goals of the unit,“ says Ms. Pade. "For one, the students get practice drawing conclusions about a civilization or society by looking at artefacts. For example, a currency shows that the people may have been more advanced, or were trading with other groups. Also, when they compare stories, they realize that people may interpret artefacts differently, and that we need to be careful that we don't read too much into what we find."
There are other learning opportunities connected to the lesson as well, including soft skills like teamwork and collaboration, "but there's also a lot of math integrated into this activity when they map things out on the grid and measure items in centimeters," said Ms. Pade
All of it is proof that at FIS, lessons can be found around the campus, in the classroom – or buried beneath the dirt.