National Archaeology Day Celebration Activity Ideas

In preparation for National Archaeology Day at the C.H. Nash Museum we discussed the activities we wanted to make available to our visitors. In particular, we wanted to have effective programming for the young kindergarten through 8th grade (K-8) school age visitors.  Here we consider effective as those programs that will engage, educate, and entertain our young visitors about the importance of cultural heritage presentation and preservation.  The internet has a myriad of resources that meet this need, ranging from the simple to complex.  Here are a few:

  • One of my favorites, ArchaeologyLand, I experienced for the first time this past year at the Society for American Archaeology annual meeting.  Drawing on skills of several educators, ArchaeologyLand was pulled together as a unit by Carol Ellick.  ArchaeologyLand focuses on themes of preservation and interpretation.  The program requires no high-tech equipment or skills.  All of the activities can be adapted to specific cultural regions.  In fact, this fall a student in the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate Program at the University of Memphis will adapt ArchaeologyLand for a community outreach program in Peru about which I previously posted.
  • Another excellent resource is Poverty Point Expeditions by Debbie Buco, (though I might be biased as I consulted on the project).  Contextually based on the material culture of the Poverty Point site, Expeditions uses archaeology to teach a range of humanities, natural and social science skills.  Although some of the activities are more complex than ArchaeologyLand, none rely on highly technical skills or equipment.  Classroom Archaeology by Nancy Hawkins is also available as a pdf download from the Louisiana Division of Archaeology website.
  • The 2011 edition of Beyond Artifacts is available as a pdf download on the resource page of the Florida Public Archaeology Network. Besides a plethora of activities from simple to complex, Beyond Artifacts also has an extensive list of electronic resources on education in archaeology.
  • . . . and for a broad listing of possibilities, be certain to visit the Archaeology for the Public page of the Society for American Archaeology.
  • Finally, if you are looking for activities for the higher education or adult level, check out the book Archaeology to Delight and Instruct: Active Learning in the University Classroom edited by Heather Burke and Claire Smith.  “This collection of imaginative exercises designed by 20 master instructors on three continents, include role-playing, games, simulations, activities, and performance, all designed to teach archaeological concepts in interesting and engaging ways.”  I routinely use exercises from this book in my undergraduate and graduate level classrooms.  And I have one that we will give a try with the older crowd on National Archaeology Day at Chucalissa!

So  . . . if you are looking for a last-minute addition to your National Archaeology Day program, there is certainly something in the above links to suit your needs.

What are your favorite activities for effective public outreach in archaeology?

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2 thoughts on “National Archaeology Day Celebration Activity Ideas”

  1. Great resources – the ‘Poverty Points’ site is excellent. Though I don’t work with archaeology courses, I do work with history courses in higher education. One site we find that has a wealth of resources is the Library of Congress – (I typed ‘archaeology’ in the search box and there seemed to be a few hits). Another source is the History Channel – though the downside is the advertising on the site. However we often have found useful audio or video clips that we have been able to embed in a web page,

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