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Dig Up The Past

For a couple of days, ask the janitor to NOT empty your trash can. This activity requires lots of trash!

Preparation:

Trash (accumulated after a couple of days)
Sanitary Gloves (can be just for you, or enough for the class)
Tissues

Explain that archeologists literally dig up the past! We learn about the Natives Americans that once lived in that particular region by finding their artifacts, and deciding the reason that artifact was used.

Take the classroom garbage can to the front of the room and dump its contents on the floor. Start going through the contents item by item, holding them up for everyone to see while asking, “Hmmm…what could this be used for?” For example, pencil shavings could have been used as a pillow stuffer, or a crumbled piece of paper with a drawing of someone could be “one of their Gods…”.

Sometimes I’ve hidden a piece of candy nearby and make it look like I’ve pulled it out of the garbage and cautiously put it in my mouth. After this shock, I reveal that it wasn’t originally in the garbage can.

If you have enough gloves for everyone in the class, give a pair of gloves with a piece of trash in a tissue to each pair of students. Have them delicately examine their assigned “artifact” in all aspects (no tasting!), draw a sketch of the item, and below the illustration list as many ideas as to what that “artifact” was used for.

Share with the class.

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