If you’re stuck at home with kids who are mad for archaeology and history, here’s a selection of activities that are free to view online and/or download and do at home. Let me know any more that you know of in the comments and I’ll add them to the post. I’m starting by listing resources I’ve contributed to.
Forget the name of this page – Outdoor Archaeological Learning – and think of it as indoor archaeological learning. There are three booklets on this page. The first is aimed at teachers and educators but there are some cut out and make models of archaeological sites and a timeline activity you could do with cut-out Lego figures through the ages.
Into the Wildwoods and The First Foresters are focused on the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods of Scotland and have characters created by Alex Leonard who could be the basis of story-telling. There are also map-making and drawing activities and lots of illustrations and photographs inside.
Teaching History in 100 Objects was a British Museum project to support the new history curriculum in English schools from Key Stages 1-3 so the topics are linked to that. This is aimed at teachers but there are lots of objects to look through (not just 100 – each focus object links to many more). See if there’s an object that links to a topic your child/ren have been studying/are interested in. There are objects from Palaeolithic handaxes to a badge from Jesse James’ bid for the Democratic nominee in the presidential elections of 1984.
Hamilton Trust, who create blocks of work for teachers to use in the classroom, have made two of their topics free to use – Dinosaurs and fossils (which includes stuff on human evolution) and Early Islamic Civilisation. Incidentally, they are also creating free home packs for maths and English for each year group so keep an eye on their website. You can become a friend to access their other resources for £33 a year.
Resources from around the internet
The Young Archaeologist’s Club website has loads of activities to do on its website, including making Viking flatbread, doing your own cave art, making archaeological fake poo for your kids to excavate and so much more.
Must Farm near Peterborough was the site of a new quarry – and before quarrying archaeologists uncovered some amazing late Bronze Age archaeology preserved in waterlogged silted up channels of the River Nene.
A stilted settlement was built around 850 BC when the river was still running, but shallow. The people who lived there traded with far off places like Italy to get beautiful glass beads, travelling up and down the river in logboats. They had wheeled carts for travelling on dry land and kept sheep and cows there; they didn’t eat much fish or shellfish from the river. They made cloth out of lime bast, similar to linen. They also had swords to defend themselves.
Immediately before the end of the settlement, a wooden palisade was built around the outside of the small group of stilted roundhouses. Bronze axes were used to chop down the trees and dress the timbers. The end came as a conflagration – started by enemies from without or as an accident from within we don’t know. The fire vitrified food in bowls that were left behind, still with the wooden spoon inside. The floors and roofs collapsed into the river where the fire went out and the houses settled, to be preserved in the anaerobic environment underwater. There are no human remains in the river deposits, so hopefully everyone got out safely. Here’s a video from the archaeologists who dug it, Cambridge Archaeological Unit.
Based on this site, I developed a game similar to Cluedo for Aylesbury Young Archaeologist’s Club where players would try to work out who had started the fire, how and in which building. I colour-coded a reconstruction drawing by Vicki Herring and created some characters that might conceivably have been residents and some different ways that the fire might have started. Then you play very much the same way as Cluedo. Download the game-board and the instructions and cards here to print and play. You’ll need your own dice and gaming pieces. Tell me what you think and how it can be improved!
Game board – the walkways are divided into squares and the ways in to the buildings are marked by black diamonds.
This mirror found in Devon was made sometime between 50BC and AD 70 in the Late Iron Age or just into the Roman occupation of Britain. It was made of bronze, highly polished on one side and engraved with a complex design on the other. This design is seemingly abstract but hides many grinning faces. How many can you see?