Lessons & Activities

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for Teachers – Participant Projects (2014, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2007)

(Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the projects do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.)

The following projects were created by teachers participating in National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for Teachers held in 2014, 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2007.

A PDF or PowerPoint version of the project can be found by clicking on the project title.

Grade Level Project Title


Elementary Amish Culture
Elementary “Archaeology: Digging a Site” Information Book Mentor Text (Lucy Calkins)
Elementary Immigration: Lesson 3: Using Photographs to Learn about Immigration
Elementary Petroglyphs of Pennsylvania: Safe Harbor, Susquehanna River (includes PowerPoint presentation, 219KB file size)
Elementary/Middle Numbers
Elementary/Middle Submerged Secrets
Elementary/Middle Using Information of Oregon’s Geographic Regions to Classify Native American Artifacts
Middle Amish Culture Project
Middle Exploring the Past- Introduction to Archaeology
Middle Connecting Past and Present through Artifacts
High School An Analysis of an Article (“The Pristine Myth: The Landscape of the Americas in 1492” by William M. Denevan)
High School Band, Tribe, or Chiefdom? (includes PowerPoint presentation, 57KB file size)
High School Exploring the Past: Ceramics Throughout History
High School Exploring Physics with the Atlatl (includes PowerPoint presentation – 1, 70KB file size; PowerPoint presentation – 2, 387KB file size)
High School Isotopic Analysis in Determination of Diet and Migration
High School Organic Residue Analysis in Archaeology
High School Professional Resource List
High School The Zombie Apocalypse – Design a Culture
High School Tool Making and the Physics of Projectiles


All Archaeology Opportunities for Educators in Northeastern Iowa
Elementary Who were the mound builders?
Elementary Check the Clues
Elementary How do archaeologists know about the past?
Middle Mishipeshu, the Underwater-Panther
Middle Exploring the Past: Archaeology, History and Early Human Communities
Middle Scientific Method Exploration through Archaeology
Middle Field Investigations and Sampling Techniques
Middle Context Tells the Story
Middle Playground Pedestrian Survey
Middle How do we know?
Middle Objects Tell Stories
Middle Exploring Our Past through Anthropology and Archaeology
Middle The Secrets of Garbage
Middle Understanding the Historical Process through Archaeology
Middle Artifact Timeline Activity
Middle Symbols – Past, Present & Future
Middle/High Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (Garbology)
Middle/High Using GIS to Introduce Archaeology, Social Structures, and Climate Change
High School Introduction to World History Unit
High School Science Is Science!
High School Three Dimensional Coordinates
High School Pictographs (Rock Art) of Kickapoo Valley
High School The Continuing Lessons of Band Level Societies
High School YOU Are an Amateur Archaeologist
High School Patterns in Human Behavior and Ethics of Artifacts
High School Interpreting Rock Art


All Archaeological Excavation (PowerPoint presentation, 9,137 KB file size)
Elementary/Middle Archaeology: Digging into the Past
Elementary/Middle Art as an Expression of Culture in Context
Elementary/Middle Centerville Garbage Collection Project
Elementary/Middle Changing Uses of Santa Cruz’s Land
Elementary/Middle Comparing and Contrasting Copper Mining by Evaluating Artifacts
Elementary/Middle Draw the Midden
Elementary/Middle Footprints of the Past: An Introduction to Historical Science and its Importance
Elementary/Middle How Do We Know About the Past?
Elementary/Middle Plants and People
Elementary/Middle Uncovering Archaeology
Elementary/Middle Why Do We Need to Learn About the Past?
High School Creating a “Works Cited Document” for an Archaeology Project (includes PowerPoint presentation, 365KB file size)
High School First Contact
High School How Do We Know What Happened in the Past?  Ancient and Modern People in Wisconsin
High School Introduction to Anthropology, Human Evolution and Archaeology: Southeastern Wisconsin Case Study, Aztalan and the People of the Sun
High School Introduction to Garcia’s Biology Class
High School Introduction to Garcia’s Earth Science Class
High School Mini-Unit: Defining My Self and My Culture
High School Using Radioactive Dating to Better Understand Isotopes
High School Why Do Humans Write: Myths & Legends in the Context of Culture and Society


Elementary/Middle Archaeology: Are you Diggin’ Me?
Elementary/Middle Archaeology Infusion Project
Elementary/Middle Exploring the Past Blog
Elementary/Middle Past People VoiceThread
Elementary/Middle Picturing the Past Web Site
Elementary/Middle Viking Culture in the “New World: vs. Native American Culture circa CE 900-1000
High School Classical Archaeological Sites
High School Geographic Study of the Driftless Area
High School Investigating the Physics of the Atlatl
High School World Literature and World Cultures


Kindergarten Introduction to Indians and the First Thanksgiving
Grades 2nd and up What can we learn from bones?
Elementary Inference and Observation
6th grade Social Studies Curriculum Grade 6 – Unit of Study: Anthropologists: Puzzlers of Past People
6th-8th grades Discover Woodland Culture (Wisconsin) Pottery Techniques (includes PowerPoint presentation, 149 KB file size)
Middle school Introduction to Archaeology and Ethics (PowerPoint presentation, 2,015 KB file size)
Middle school The Atlatl System
Middle school Pre-European Cultures of the Upper Mississippi River Valley
Middle school Archaeology: Basic Content (PowerPoint presentation, 21,006 KB file size)
8th grade Exploration of Prehistoric People of Illinois
Upper grades Who Owns the Past? Comparing Perspectives on Kennewick Man
Upper grades Native American Ethnobotany
Upper grades The Institutions of Government: The Judiciary
Upper grades Early Humans
Upper grades Tailoring Two Cultures to Adapt to Wisconsin’s Biotic Zones
Upper grades Half-Life Lab

PowerPoint Presentations

The following PowerPoint presentations were created by teachers participating in an ESEA Title II grant-funded project for use in the teachers’ classrooms. They reflect the individual’s experience at a particular site and are not intended to accurately reflect what happens on all archaeological investigations around the country or world.

Lesson Plans

The following lessons were created by teachers participating in Eisenhower Professional Development Project and ESEA Title II grants.

A PDF version of the lesson can be found by clicking on the Lesson Title.

Grade Level Lesson Title
Archaeological Process – general
variable Contextual Clues
3-5 Artifact Adventure
4 How to Find a Site
4-5 Going on a Dig
4-5 Excavating the Trash
4-8 Archaeology Vocabulary Sampling
4-8 Tools of the Archaeologist and Tools of the Archaeologist PowerPoint
4-8 Take Only Photos and Leave Only Bubbles
5-8 Motel of Mysteries
5-8 Process This
6-8 A “Real” Picture of a Scientist
7 Decomposing Artifacts
Archaeology Process – What is it? – Inference, Observation
variable Point of View
4 and up What Is It?
4-8 Artifact Identification – What is it?
6 Archaeological Thinking
6-8 Archaeological Inquiry
Archaeological Process – Context
all ages Archaeology is…
4-8 What’s Missing?
6 How Do We Learn About the Past?
6-8 Pieces of the Past
6-8 Pieces of an Artifact
Archaeological Process – Mapping
4 What a Site!
4-5 Where is it?
4-8 Mapping an Artifact
6-8 Gridding a Site
6-8 Gridding a 2 x 2 Meter Unit
6-8 2 x 2
Archaeological Process – Dating
5-8 How Old is Mike?
6 Layers of the Past
Archaeological Process – Preservation
4 Does this Belong to You?
4-6 To Protect and Preserve
5-8 Preserve is the Word
Archaeological Process and Wisconsin’s Pre-European People
variable Filling in the Picture
4-5 Effigy Mounds Activity
Wisconsin’s Pre-European People
4 Advances in Civilization: A Car or a Horse?
4 Investigating the Mammoth Mystery
4 Prehistoric Indians
4 Prehistoric Charades
4-6 Discovering Prehistoric People of Wisconsin
4-8 Culture Challenge
4-8 ARTifacts of Wisconsin’s Pre-European Cultures
4-8 Spear Point Production
5-8 Headlines of the Past
5-8 People of the Past
6-8 Science in the Past
7 Cultural Murals
Rock Art
4 and up Before It Was Wisconsin – Rock Art
4-8 Rock Art
6-8 Cave Art Drawing
World Cultures
4 and up What Culture Game?
6-8 Comparing the Oneota of Wisconsin to the Aztecs of Mexico
7 People / Culture
Time Line
variable Pre History through Modern Day Timeline
7-8 The Time of Man

Mathematics Activities Related to Archaeology

Following are pdf versions of several activities that employ mathematical concepts and skills to solve archaeological questions.

Archaeology is the science that seeks to learn about past humans and their culture from the material remains that were left behind. Archaeology is not “treasure hunting,” and involves much more than just finding and digging up those material remains or artifacts. Archaeologists try to tease out as much information as possible about the past from a small sample of sometimes poorly preserved or fragmentary material objects. Modern archaeologists may spend three or more times longer in the lab than they do in the field-trying to discover the meaning behind the artifacts they have found. Visit The Process of Archaeology web site and learn about the whole process of archaeology, from the initial research and logistics to the final analyses and interpretations that bring the past to life.  The information in The Process of Archaeology web site provides background information to support the mathematics activities above.

The Math/Archaeology Activities and The Process of Archaeology web information were created as part of Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction Mathematics and Science Program Partnership Grants.