Archeaological Digs

Every year, at least once, we participate in an archaeological dig experience under the guidance of Geof Purcell (phD archaeology).  Geof Purcell is an amazing educator.  He believes in getting kids to think like an archeaologist, that is understanding the sense making systems archeaologists use to make sense of artifacts that they find.

Last May I hosted a dig at my home.  We chose to do a Greco-Roman dig.  In preparation I focused on Greek history the months prior to the dig.  We visited the MET in NYC with Geof who completely brought the museum to life for us.  We had an artifact day at my home where we made a giant timeline of the time periods in Greek history and made copies of artifacts we liked in the museum.

The actual dig experience takes place over four days.  Geof arrives two days prior, digs out the site and sets up the scenario.   Out comes the Indiana Jones style presentation, complete with old German maps and the slide projector (remember those?).  He unpacks strategy games such as Lost Cities and Settlers of Catan. When children arrive he switches between lecturing, slide shows, digs and game play to help them understand the way to piece together the story that the artifacts are suggesting.  Woven in are stories, myths, legends and questioning.  It's a fascinating process to watch.

The children eat it up.  They are constantly making connections and enjoying each other in their work.  It is wonderful to see them stepping out of their own worldview to understand another culture from another time and place.

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