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Archeological resources for educators

Archeology can be exciting for all ages.The study of archeology has great potential for motivating young people, instructing them in a wide variety of skills, and inspiring in them an appreciation for the importance of preserving our nonrenewable cultural heritage. Fortunately, an increasing number of good materials are being produced for teachers who want to incorporate archeology into multidisciplinary studies.

In addition to the Kansas Historical Society's archeology classroom materials, staff members compiled a list of learning guides and supplementary resources useful for the classroom. Most of the works cited contain references to numerous additional sources. While some of the entries deal with archeological sites in other parts of the United States and the world, with a little effort and creativity, many of the suggested activities can be adapted to local situations.

If you have used other materials that were helpful in your classroom or group, we invite you to share this information with the Public Archeologist, who may be reached at 785-272-8681, ext. 266. Be sure to include contacts for obtaining the materials and, if possible, brief comments about them. As your contributions are added to the list, more comprehensive updates can be distributed.


ArchaeologyArchaeology Merit Badge Series

Boy Scouts of America, Irving, Texas. Audience: Grades 6 - 12, 1997. Available from: Boy Scouts of America, Supply Division, Direct Mail Center, P.O. Box 909, Pineville, NC 28134-0909; 800-323-0732; ISBN 0-8395-5000-6; $3

Description: Although intended as an aid to Boy Scouts in meeting merit badge requirements, this 92-page pamphlet is of general interest. Chapters are: Who Are Archaeologists?, Archaeology and Responsibility, The Development of Archaeology, How Archaeology Happens, Going on a Dig, Careers in Archaeology, Archaeology in the Future, and Archaeology Resources.

Intrigue of the Past: Discovering Archaeology in Arizona.

Bureau of Land Management, US Department of the Interior, Dolores, Colorado, 1994. Audience: Grades 4 - 7. Available from: The Imagination Team, BLM Heritage Education Program, PO Box 758, Dolores, CO 81323; 303-882-4811; price varies.

Description: This is a part of the BLM's Project Archaeology program, along with Intrigue of the Past: A Teacher's Activity Guide. The book contains student materials and state-specific information. The eight lessons are broad-based and interdisciplinary and can be used to supplement other curricula or as separate curricular units. Kansas is mentioned in Unit 7, "When Coronado Hit the Trail."

Digging into Archaeology

Digging into Archaeology. Hands-on-Minds-on Unit Study.

Julie Coan, Critical Thinking Books & Software, Pacific Grove, California, 1999. Audience: Elementary through secondary school teachers.

Description: This book provides activities that help students develop critical thinking skills of synthesizing, analyzing, evaluating, hypothesizing, application, and deductive and inductive reasoning. The five concept-oriented units are The Archaeological Record, Interpreting the Artifacts, A Look at Culture, What is a Civilization?, and Archaeological Dating Methods. Extension activities are included.


The Next Archaeology WorkbookThe Archaeology Workbook

The Archaeology Workbook.

Nicholas David and Jonathan Driver, University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, 1982. ISBN 0-8122-1125-1 and 1989 The Next Archaeology Workbook. University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. ISBN 0-8122-1293-2. Audience: Adult. Available from: University of Pennsylvania Press, PO Box 4836, Hampden Station, Baltimore, MD 21211; 800-445-9880; $19.95 each.

Description: These books are designed for students with a basic knowledge of archeological theory and method. Both volumes present exercises that challenge students to deal with fictitious scenarios and data sets that are sometimes scanty, poorly reported, and misinterpreted. Problems are set in North and South America, the Near East, Europe, Africa, and the Pacific. Diverse topics include culture history, trade and warfare, stratigraphy, ritual behavior, site formation processes, paleoenvironments, the origins of agriculture, research design, ethnoarchaeology, and the ethics of archeological research.

Walk Around the Block . . . using our communities in the present to learn about the past and plan for the future.

Ginny Graves, Dean W. Graves, Karen Dell Schauber, and Punky Beasley, Center for Understanding the Built Environment (CUBE), Prairie Village, Kansas, 1992 . Audience: Teachers of grades 3 - 7; adaptable for all ages. Available from: CUBE, 5328 W. 67th St., Prairie Village, KS 66208; 913-262-0691; ISBN 0-9632033-0-4; $35.

Description: This self-discovery curriculum and program for students and teachers is not archeological in focus, but it teaches related skills. Students utilize their homes, school neighborhoods, and their communities to learn local history, map-making, architecture, and land use.

Archaeology Smart: Discovering History's Buried Treasure

Archaeology Smart Junior: Discovering History's Buried Treasure.

Karen J. Laubenstein, Princeton Review Publishing, Random House, New York, 1997. Audience: Grades 6 - 8. Available from: Random House, Inc., 201 E. 50th St., New York, NY 10022; 800-733-3000; ISBN 0-679-77537-4; $10.

Description: This entertaining learning guide for kids presents its subject through the mystery-solving adventures of three children and a talking cat. In a quest to return stolen artifacts to their proper places, the characters travel to the American Southwest, Africa, and Europe. Story episodes are alternated with quizzes, activities, and experiments to keep readers challenged and involved. A glossary and bibliography are included.

Project Archeology: Saving Traditions. Archeology for the Classroom.

Sopris West, Inc., Longmont, Colorado, 1992 . Audience: Intermediate (middle school and gifted elementary school) teachers. Available from: Sopris West, Inc., 1140 Boston Ave., Longmont, CO 80501; 303-651-2829; ISBN 0-944584-56-X; $30

Description: This curriculum kit includes a Teacher's Guide, three student Field Notebooks (The Artifact, The Site, The Culture), a game (Archeology: Can You Dig It?), and a filmstrip/cassette tape presentation. The project combines the disciplines of social studies, science, mathematics, and language arts. Special emphasis is given to the development of high level thinking skills through problem-solving and questioning activities. A suggested field project involves conducting an inventory of a historic site without excavation.

Archaeologists and Work
Archaeologists at Work: A Teacher's Guide to Classroom Archaeology.
Joanna T. Moyar, Alexandria Archaeology Publications No. 48. Alexandria Archaeology, Office of Historic Alexandria, City of Alexandria, Virginia, 1993. Audience: Elementary and secondary teachers. Available from: Alexandria Archaeology, 105 N. Union St., #327, Alexandria, VA 22314; 703-838-4399
Description: The goal of this guide is to promote in young people a sense of appreciation for the heritage that shaped a multicultural community and of stewardship for the urban landscape and physical environment. Presented in loose-leaf notebook form, sections cover the steps of archeology: archival research, field and laboratory techniques, analysis and interpretation, and archeological issues of ethics, law, and safety.

Discovering Archaeology: An Activity Guide for Educators.

Shirley J. Schermer, Special Publication. Office of the State Archaeologist, University of Iowa, Iowa City, 1992. Audience: Teachers of grades 5 - 8. Available from: Office of the State Archaeologist, University of Iowa, 700 Clinton St. Bldg., Iowa City, IA 55242; 319-384-0732; ISBN 0-87414-087-0; $6.95

Description: This 54-page book contains 10 activities, involving artifact identification, pottery making, and use of natural resources. Several simulated field activities are incorporated, balanced by a section on archeological ethics and law. There is a general section on the definition of archeology, a glossary, and reference list. Appendices give information about the culture history and specific sites and museums in Iowa.

Anthropology Explored: The Best of Smithsonian AnthroNotes. Revised, expanded 2004 edition. Audience: Upper level high school, community college, university undergraduate students. Available from: Smithsonian Books, Washington, DC

Description: This book covers all fields of anthropology. The 29 clearly written essays in this introductory text/reader in anthropology are organized into three sections: primatology and human evolution, archeology, and cultural anthropology. Ten articles focus on how and why archeologists study the past, what can be learned through such study, and why it is relevant to the contemporary world. The cartoon-illustrated book introduces the major concepts and ideas in anthropology and includes chapter updates that illuminate the process of research and discovery in the field. A free Instructor’s Guide is available online at www.nmnh.si.edu/anthro/outreach/anthropology_explored.htm. The publication has received good reviews in both American Anthropologist and American Antiquity.

Intrigue of the Past: A Teacher's Activity Guide for Fourth through Seventh Grades.

Shelley J. Smith, Jeanne M. Moe, Kelly A. Letts, and Danielle M. Paterson, Utah Interagency Task Force on Cultural Resources, Salt Lake City, Utah, 1993. Audience: Teachers of grades 4 - 7. Available from: Cultural Heritage Education Program, Bureau of Land Management, Anasazi Heritage Center, PO Box 758, Dolores, CO 81323; 303-882-4811.

Description: This 146-page curriculum includes sections on archeological theory, methods, and ethics. Activities are associated with each lesson and contain material and vocabulary lists, background information for the teacher, evaluation exercises, and ways to extend the lesson. The guide also suggests ways to integrate archeology into social studies, science, languages, mathematics, and art.

Teaching Archaeology: A Sampler for Grades 3 to 12.

Society for American Archaeology, Public Education Committee, Washington, DC., 1995. Audience: Teachers of grades 3 - 12. Available from: Society for American Archaeology, 900 Second St., NE, Ste. 12, Washington, DC 2002-3557; 202-789-8200; free.

Description: This 24-page workbook describes the benefits of using archeology in instruction and offers four broad-based, teacher-tested lesson plans on scientific methods, local culture history, archeology as a multidisciplinary science, and conservation.

Clues from the PastClues from the Past: A Resource Book on Archeology.

Pam Wheat and Brenda Whorton, Texas Archeological Society and Hendrick-Long Publishing Company, Dallas, Texas, 1990. Audience: Teachers of grades 3 - 8 and above. Available from: Hendrick-Long Publishing Company, PO Box 25123, Dallas, TX 75225-1123; 800-544-3770; ISBN 0-937460-65-6; $17.95.

Description: This 196-page book discusses the basic principles of archeology while delivering a constantly strong preservation message. It provides information about teaching archeology as history and science and presents lesson plans about early cultures with activities that parallel the processes used by archeologists. A large section surveys the cultural time periods, artifacts, and archeological sites in the seven regions of Texas. Resource lists for juvenile fiction, magazines, articles, teaching units, exhibits, and audiovisual materials are included.

Hands-On Archaeology: Explore the Mysteries of History through Science.

John R. White, Prufrock Press, Waco, Texas, 1998. Audience: Elementary through secondary school teachers. Available from: Prufrock Press, PO Box 8813, Waco, TX 76710; 817-756-3337; ISBN 1-882664-34-5; $21.95.

Description: This 200-page book is intended as a how-to for teaching archeology, both as a simulated activity in the classroom and as field archeology in an empty lot in the community. Although the author includes admonitions about consulting with professional archeologists and avoiding disturbance of actual archeological sites, the excavation parts of this guide must be used with extreme caution. However, the pre- and post-excavation chapters offer a wealth of information and exercises: assembling a tool kit, keeping a journal, practicing the scientific method, conducting map and other documents research, maintaining field records, photographing, artifact processing, producing a site report, and preparing a museum display. Forty-three activities are suggested with reproducible activity pages, work sheets, and handouts.

Supplemental Resources

Archaeological Institute of America

Publishes many items written for non-specialists, including Archaeology magazine (ISSN 0003-8113), AIA Newsletter, Archaeological Fieldwork Opportunities Bulletin, and Archaeology on Film (1995 by Downs, Allen, Meister, and Lazio; ISBN 0-8493-9016-5). AIA also sells many archeological books and project kits for use in several grades. Of particular interest is Archaeology in the Classroom: A Resource Guide for Teachers and Parents (1995 by O'Brien and Cullen; ISBN 0-7872-1875-8), which contains information about books, magazines, curriculum and resource packets, films, videos, kits of simulated artifacts, computer programs, and games. Archaeological Institute of America, Boston University, 656 Beacon St., Boston, MA 02215-2010 - 617-353-9361 www.archaeological.org


Archaeological Institute of America's colorful bi-monthly magazine for kids. The first issue in April/May 1999 declared, "Archaeology is history, mystery, adventure, and fun." This magazine (ISSN 1524-4458) also includes paleontology (dinosaurs). The editors publish a Parents' Guide that is included with six issues of the magazine for $23.95. Cobblestone Publishing Co., 30 Grove St., Ste. C, Petersborough, NH 03458 - 603.924.7209 www.digonsite.com

National Geographic Society

A source of information about North American Indians. In addition to its well-known magazine (ISSN 0027-9358), the Society produces films, publications, and the map "Indians of North America." The 1996 booklet by George E. Stuart and Francis P. McManamon, Archaeology and You, was a joint project with the US Department of the Interior and the Society for American Archaeology. Written for the general public, it describes the what, how, and why of archeology and how both professionals and non-professionals can participate and work to preserve the archeological record. National Geographic Society, PO Box 2806, Washington, DC 20013 - 202-857-7000

Society for American Archaeology (SAA)

The Public Education Committee (PEC) of SAA exists to promote awareness about and concern for the study of past cultures and to engage people in the preservation and protection of heritage resources. Publications aim to aid educators, interpreters, archeologists, and others who teach the public about the value of archeological research and resources. Two short but helpful items are Guidelines for the Evaluation of Archaeology Education Materials (1995) and Classroom Sources for Archaeology Education: A Resource Guide. From 1990 through 1998 Archaeology and Public Education was published three or four times each year. It shared information, resources, activities, and lesson plans for elementary and secondary school teachers. A victim of its own popularity, the bulletin will no longer appear in printed form, but previous issues will be available on the SAA web site at http://www.saa.org. The monographs will be sold individually.

Smithsonian Institution

The Smithsonian's Department of Anthropology in the National Museum of Natural History distributes, for free, leaflets, bibliographies, and an educational publication on anthropology (including archaeology and American Indians) for precollege teachers. AnthroNotes: National Museum of Natural History Publication for Educators is a 20-page, biannual publication that provides lead articles on current anthropological research, teaching activities and strategies, and reviews of teaching resources. Audience: middle school through college level. Articles may be reproduced and distributed for educational purposes. Sign up at http://anthropology.si.edu/outreach/anthronotesForm/anSignupForm.cfm

Society for Historical Archaeology (SHA)

The Society was formed in 1967 and is the largest scholarly group concerned with the archeology of the modern world since the beginning of European exploration (A.D. 1400-present). SHA promotes scholarly research and the dissemination of knowledge concerning historical archeology. The society is specifically concerned with the identification, excavation, interpretation, and conservation of sites and materials on land and underwater. Geographically the society emphasizes the New World, but also includes European exploration and settlement in Africa, Asia, and Oceania. The organization's web site provides many useful links to information about careers in historic archeology, research tools, publications, new and announcements in historical archeology, and underwater archeology. Society for Historical Archaeology, 15245 Shady Grove Road, Ste. 130, Rockville, MD 20850 - 301.990.2454 hq@sha.org   http://www.sha.org

Internet Connections

A wealth of information is available through the Internet, but the quality of the material varies greatly and is often difficult to evaluate. You must be discriminating. Here are a few reliable addresses that will lead you to many other sites.

Archaeology & Public Education

This website is targeted to K-12 educators interested in using aspects of archaeology in the classroom and to professional archaeologists involved in public education. Click the image to connect to their website.

Annenberg/CPB Exhibits

This site is supported by the Annenberg/CPB Project. It attempts to create "virtual worlds" for exploration. Some of the current exhibits featured are: Collapse (Why do civilizations fall?), Middle Ages (What was it really like to live in the Middle Ages?), and Renaissance (What inspired this age of balance and order?). These broad topics are broken down into several subjects. Collapse, for example, consists of The Maya, Mesopotamia, Chaco Canyon, Mali and Songhai, and Related Resources. Graphics make this slow-loading without a fast computer. It is best for middle school level and above.

Anthropology on the Internet for K-12

The Smithsonian Institution's John Wesley Powell Library of Anthropology produces this annotated listing of hot links to selected sites with information about the field of anthropology for teachers and young people. Sites are grouped under 11 headings, each illustrated with photographs. Some of the categories are: A Career?, Archaeology, Social/Cultural Anthropology, Physical Anthropology, Linguistics, Museums, Virtual Exhibits, and Electronic Publications. The Archaeology page has several quality links. The site has good content, is well written, and has clean design. The graphics are good, although they tend to be slow-loading without a fast computer. It is most appropriate for middle school to high school level, although the careers section is pertinent to college-age students as well.

The Archaeology Channel

The Archaeology Channel, the streaming media web site, is constantly adding new programs about archeological sites around the world. The site includes teacher resources and a list of web links.

Archaeologica News

This site offers current archeological news from all over the world. Updated daily and easy to navigate, the site is recommended for anybody for research or enjoyment.

Archaeological Parks in the U.S.

This web site provides links to parks that have archeological sites that have been protected and are open to the public. The listed parks represent Native American sites, and Kansas' Pawnee Indian Village State Historic Site is included.


This is an official publication of the Archaeological Institute of America. It offers news, interactive digs, and articles that are not published in the magazine. It is recommended for high school age and up.

Archaeology with K. Kris Hirst

A guide to hundreds of sites about archeology and related studies. Pages include an archeological atlas, ancient civilizations, artifacts, current digs, prehistory and resource for teachers.


ArchNet, the World Wide Web Virtual Library for Archaeology, provides access to archeological resources available on the Internet. Information on the server is categorized by geographic region and subject. For example, Educational Resources for Anthropology and Archaeology has sections on Virtual Excavation, Anthropology & Archaeology in the News, and Archaeology for Young People and their Teachers.

Arkansas Archeological Survey Education Program 

This site has general information about archeology and offers a teacher's packet with informational flyers and brochures, books, slide sets, exhibits, and a Discovery Box. Links to other sites are listed.

Critical Bibliography on North American Indians for K-12

The Anthropology Office of the Smithsonian Institution provides a list of books about North American Indians by geographical region for K-12 students.

Educational Guide for Archaeologists

This web site lists simple definitions and links to various sites with more detailed descriptions of archeological sub-disciplines and methods.

Environmental Education on the Internet

EE-Links is a project of the North American Association for Environmental Education and provides links to environmental education resources.

Free Archaeology Resources

The Best Free Online Schools, an education portal, offers Free Archaeology Resources to provide easy access to the most authoritative and extensive archeological resources on the Internet.  It contains a mix of general interest sites, museum sites, bibliographies, and image repositories, arranged by period and region:  Stone Age, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Latin America, North America, Egypt, Asia, and Europe.

Great Outdoors Recreation Pages

This Archaeological/Cultural Sites page for the Great Outdoors Recreation Pages website contains a links to the national parks that have archeological/cultural significance. Links can be followed to possible activities in each park. There is heavy emphasis on the American Southwest. It contains short descriptions and nice graphics, aimed at grade school to middle school level.

Heritage Education Network

The Heritage Education Network (THEN) , a public service project of the Center for Historic Preservation (CHP) at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, went online in 1998. The web site provides useful resources for incorporating archeology and historic preservation into the classroom. The archeology page offers terms, links to archeology by state, and suggested classroom activities.

Internet Scout Project

The Scout Report for Social Sciences is produced every other Tuesday and reports on Web resources of interest for social scientists, especially teachers.

Kids' Guide to Archeology

This site offers an explanation of archeology and what archeologists do. It also includes many links to sites that will be of interest to students and teachers.

Nebraska Studies.org

This site is organized by an illustrated time line and has an animated migration graphic. The lessons are correlated to reading/writing, social studies, science, and math standards.

New York Times Learning Network

The Learning Network has developed lesson plan units for grades 3-12 that use recent New York Times articles as springboards for examining important curricular topics in interesting and exciting ways. Teachers can use these lessons or collaborate with teachers in other content areas on interdisciplinary units. Use their search feature to find the content area you are interested in.

Sipapu: The Anasazi Emergence into the Cyber World

This website for the Anasazi enthusiast is supported by the University of California at Santa Barbara. It has three categories: Architecture, Prehistory, and Research. Architecture has virtual 3-D models of a Great Kiva (modeled after Chetro Ketl) and a Great House. Prehistory has a timeline, an interactive map of Anasazi sites, and a frequently asked questions page. Research has a list of Chaco Anasazi outliers, a list of academic papers written on Anasazi prehistory, and a bibliography of materials. Everything from fun to serious information is covered. It is a good site for any age.

Smithsonian Institution

The educators feature offers teachers links to hundreds of resources that can be matched to subject areas and to state standards.  The site also includes activities for families and students.

Society for American Archaeology The web site lists teaching resources available from the Society for American Archaeology, including Teaching Archaeology: A Sampler for Grades 3 to 12.

Teaching with Historic Places

Sponsored by the National Park Service, this web site provides educators with information for teaching about historic places in their classrooms. There are links to lesson plans developed by the NPS and educators across the country plus professional development opportunities.

Texas Beyond History

This teacher site has lesson plans that incorporate language arts, social studies, math/science, and art.  The lessons were written by experienced teachers and consultants. They are designed for elementary and secondary classes.  The website also has a page for kids.

Virtual Archeology

This site is designed and maintained by the Faculty of Education at Simon Fraser University and has been approved by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The site is designed for use in classrooms or for home schooling, and students can interact with archeologists and other students. Web links to other archeology pages are included.