As we try to "capture the past" for our students, we suddenly realize that the past, both historic and prehistoric, has the power to deeply move us in profound ways. When this happens, it is often because a teacher or some other special individual has shown us, or imprinted upon our hearts, a sense of excitement and awe.
Creativity and imagination can blossom in your classroom as you develop exciting lesson plans that will generate respect and interest in your students. Archaeology is a magic word; it encompasses many areas of study, from scientific theory, research, and interpretation, to art, social studies, language arts, math, personal relationships, and cooperative, hands-on learning.
Archaeological work is a deliberate, painstaking process. Wheelbarrows or buckets are filled with dirt; the dirt is filtered through wire mesh to catch small objects; pot sherds, pipe stems, arrow heads, an awl, sinew, bone, bullets, fragments of cloth or leather, and other miscellaneous items are revealed. And here archaeology begins to take on an excitement. Daily life may be captured in the mesh and become significant, as these items are viewed in context with one another. Some items fill in the blanks of a complicated mystery, others add a splash of color to a seemingly lifeless scene from the past, and still others generate further questions in a puzzle yet unsolved.
Isn't it much more practical, as well as more fun, to show how math and science can be applied to an archaeological excavation, than to drag out those tired, seemingly irrelevant word problems we are offered to introduce or review the basic concepts of measurement, distance, spatial relationships, graphing, circumference, diameter, or climatic conditions? Providing students with real-life applications for the exercises they complete in class allows them the realization that what they study in school really can have something to do with their future.
New Mexico's heritage is incredibly diverse, challenging, and colorful. This manual contains for you, the heritage educator, innumerable ideas
and sources for investigating archaeology. Each unit is comprised of one or more lesson plans incorporating hands-on activities, readings, and exercises using materials
that can be easily created, duplicated, or obtained. The lessons are open-ended to encourage instructors to add or delete materials as their own imaginations, school
budgets, and class-time dictate.
Return to Publications