Be an Archaeologist: New Mexico's Spanish Frontier
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
- Research the explorers who visited New Mexico, the newcomers who settled there, and the people who continue to come to the region, including their cultural and religious traditions and contributions
- Describe the economies established by settlers and their influence on the present-day economy, with emphasis on the importance of private property and entrepreneurship
- Trace why their community was established, how individuals and families contributed to its founding and development, and how the community has changed over time, drawing on maps, photographs, oral histories, letters, newspapers, and other primary sources
- Read a children's book about archaeology and discuss.
This book can be about fossils (dinosaurs, etc.).
- Introduce archeology, vocabulary and have a discussion. Do a KWL Chart (PDF)
Vocabulary: archaeology, archaeologist, trowel, area, excavate, area, scoop, swifter, shifting, climate. (What we know, what we want to know, what we learned) chart about archaeology.
- Introduce and show items and materials archaeologists use and wear: trowel, gloves, scoop, swifter, screen, rulers, etc.
- The teacher will present an area that has previously been prepared. This can be done either outside or inside. Have a large bucket or area where you have put dirt or sand. Place items such as broken dishes (be sure that they will not cut the skin), costume jewelry, food bones, etc. inside of the dirt. To integrate Social Studies (Native Americans), materials or items used by Native Americans can also be placed in the dirt. Materials from the community long ago can be placed in the dirt. This can be done inside in a large bin or container or outside in the ground or in a large bucket or container.
- Teacher should show student how to excavate. Take a surface scan, gently brushing with fingers or shovels or brushes the sand into one area. When an item is found, if it is large, gently use a toothbrush to remove sand away from item. All items found should be placed in a bag and labeled. Large items that may be a part of the feature; example, stones used for roads or walls, etc. should remain; small toothbrushes should be used to clear dirt from the feature. Show students how to measure a level (example; 5cm). All dirt should be scooped out from a level and screened. After each level is finished, notes should be taken on the date, and description of the level and all items found.|
- Have students be archaeologists.
- Have a class discussion about what was found and the experience. Complete KWL (PDF).
- Have students complete crossword and multiple-choice worksheet.
Supporting All Learners
- Life Sciences (3)
- Adaptations in physical structure or behavior may improve an organism's chance for survival.
- Students know when the environment changes, some plants and animals survive and reproduce; others die or move on to new locations.
- Students know that some kind of organisms that once lived on Earth have completely disappeared and that some of those resembled others that are alive today.
- 3.2 Students describe the American Indian nations in their local region long ago and in the recent past.
- Students can use line levels as a form of measurement.
- Students can write a report on the items found and how they relate to what is being studied; for example: if Native Americans are being studied and items found in a site are corn cob or kernels, bones, leather, beads, etc., a student could explain how the items were used by the Native Americans.
Have students write a research paper on the culture and the change of culture of Native Americans. Depending on the maturity of the students and the amount of time available, have students write about one of the expeditions or compare two or more of the expeditions. Students can also look at one of the cultures and research the change of that culture over time. Students should follow the step-by-step process of the Writing Workshop: Writing a Research Paper where they will be guided on the steps of writing a research paper. Students can also use the Research Starter on Anasazi and Pueblo Indians to get the background on their chosen topic.