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Fall SAVY 2019: Day 2 – Archaeology 101 (Grades 1/2)

Posted by on Monday, September 30, 2019 in Grade 1, Grade 2, SAVY.

Wow, what an exciting day in Archaeology 101! We started our day by reviewing key concepts from the week before such as “social network” and “artifact”. I was pleased by how much the students remembered! Today’s big concept was “stratigraphy”–a geological term related to the layering of the earth’s strata. Students learned that archaeologists excavate based on stratigraphic layers and that the further down you go, the older things get. To illustrate this point, and to practice a mini-excavation, students excavated through cake. Each student was given a mason jar with 3 distinguishable layers and a worksheet to record their findings. Students practiced excavating layer by layer through oreo dirt, yellow cake with frosting, and a hard Rice Krispie bedrock. They carefully looked for “artifacts” in each layer which included skittles and chocolate chips. Students recorded the type, color, and texture of each layer and the types and number of artifacts found within. It was a fun but messy activity, one I hope they all enjoyed! It will also prepare them for next week’s mock excavation. We concluded our morning by furthering our discussion on relative dating in archaeology. Given a series of artifacts including pots, stone tools, and telephones, students split up into groups and ranked the items from youngest to oldest. They had to decide which features were important for determining the evolution of each item.
After lunch, students painted the pots they made from their social network last week.  Our cultural highlight of the day focused on the Ancient Maya of Mesoamerica. Students learned about counting and numbers in the Maya culture. Each student worked on some math problems, adding and subtracting using the Mayan counting system. All of the students did very well with this activity. We then discussed the Maya calendar system with its 20 days per month. The students figured out their birthdates on the Maya calendar and we carved their birthday glyphs on a clay pendants. We finished off this busy day by starting some lab work. Students tried to piece together the broken pieces of pottery they collected in their mock-survey from last week. They learned that the “temper” or interior of each pottery piece is different for each pot. Using this knowledge, they were able to separate the pieces by temper and began gluing them together. Refitting ceramics is a tedious process that requires patience and a bit of detective work. They did very well overall! This weekend, we will conclude our SAVY class with a mock-excavation outside! Students will be digging through lots of dirt so please make sure they can get a little messy. Hats and sunscreen are always advised.
Have a great week!