Inspiring the Next Generation (Or Working On It…)

The truth is, the closest I got to archaeology today was watching my 4-year-old and her dance class perform in their “Jurassic Arts” Dinosaur dance show. But this weekend will be different as I turn my attention to archaeology for children. A few weeks ago, one of my daughter’s friends earnestly explained to me that “paleontologists dig for dinosaur bones, and archaeologists dig to learn about Egypt.” (OK, a little limited geographically, but that is pretty good!) These kids, and many others like them, have inspired me to take on this small, “easy” project of creating an archaeology excavation / activity table for a local children’s museum that will open soon. We only have essentially a 2 m x 1 m box in which to convey the main points of archaeological excavation to the 3- to 10-year old crowd, while providing fun and entertainment as well. And what would an archaeological project be without the smallest of budgets!

Of course even a simple project is not without its challenges. Finding inexpensive, kid-friendly artifact replicas has proven to be more time-consuming than finding the coveted fluted point at my last Paleoindian dig. And after my 4-year-old drew blood from my 7-year-old with my Marshalltown, I’m still on the search for suitable tools. I think I’ll go get some whisk brooms and toothbrushes next. It has been an adventure just working out the logistics of this one exhibit, especially in trying to find the common ground between what’s important to us, and what’s interesting for kids…

We’ll be working on installing the activity table this weekend, and I hope to post more about our progress. Fingers crossed that it goes well, and that we give future generations, one child at a time, an appreciation for learning from and preserving our archaeological heritage!