Dirt? Digs? Discovering artifacts? Learning about archeology can be fun for kids of all ages. If you’re looking for ways to get the whole family involved, try these three ideas to build in summer learning fun.
1. Layer Cake Archeology
Who doesn’t like to eat cake? Digging (and eating) the layers of a cake is a fun and easy way for kids to learn the basics of archaeological excavation. Tie in a baking session to create three layers of a cake, then secretly hide small toys into each of the baked layers. Stack the layers on top of each other and place the cake on a large table with a plastic tablecloth. Digging can get messy. Kids will be able to record finds, preserve artifacts in baggies, and snack on something delicious.
2. Shoebox Dig
When archeologists first begin excavating a site, the layers of dirt are not visible to them. This project mimics the “blind dig” the archeologists face. Have each person in your family create a shoebox excavation site, layering dirt and soil on top of carefully placed artifacts like shells or coins—remember, the newest materials should be placed towards the top layer of the soil! They should take notes on the different artifacts they have buried and where they are located. When each excavation site is finished, have them trade and unearth the unknown artifacts, layer by layer. Keep track of what has been found!
3. Yard Dig
Create a home-based project for your kids through a yard dig. While preparation may be time-consuming, having your children participate in a project that is closest to a real-life dig will let them see how an archeologist works. An excavation site of 5 ft x 2 ft will allow older children to section off areas for digging, conduct field work, and record notes of their finds. Materials buried can include charred wood, rocks or stones, scraps of fabric, larger shells or broken pottery. Your children can piece together the story of an imaginary culture through this larger yard dig.