[NPS Arrowhead] U.S. Dept. of Interior National Park Service Archeology Program
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Why teach archeology?

For students —Uncovering artifacts can be an exciting adventure. Deciphering how objects were used, who might have used them, and other aspects of their context helps students to think about the commonalties between cultures.

For teachers —Many disciplines such as mathematics, geography, cultural studies, and citizenship can be taught through anthropology. Archeological activities can promote social interaction alongside scientific investigation.

For preservation —Students who know about archeology will have a greater appreciation for sites that are historically and culturally significant. Hopefully, this will lead to less looting and vandalism and greater support for stewardship in the future. An ethic grounded in archeological stewardship can also shape students' consideration of other people and their heritage.

Using archeology as a teaching tool can seem daunting if you don't know much about it. Two great ways to start learning about how to use archeology as a teaching tool are our online guides, Archeology for Interpreters: A Guide to the Resource and its counterpart, Interpretation for Archeologists: A Guide to Increasing Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities. Created to help National Park Service interpreters and archeologists discuss archeological resources with the public, educators can also use these guides to learn about incorporating archeology into their classroom toolkit. Other useful resources are also listed below.

  • Archeology for Interpreters answers questions about archeological methods, interpretation with archeological data, sensitivity in cultural resource matters, and encouragement of a sense of stewardship in youth. It also provides numerous links to get you started, including recommendations on parks to visit, lesson plans, and publications. Perhaps most importantly, the guide intends to help you feel comfortable using archeology as a multi-disciplinary resource.
  • Interpretation for Archeologists offers methods for encouraging students to find personal meanings in archeological resources. This guide discusses the elements of interpretation that teachers can develop for their classrooms, such as the connections between tangible, intangible, and universal elements that facilitate learning and discussion.
  • Archeology for Kids describes what archeologists do and what archeology is about.
  • Educators: The Public Benefits of Archeology offers case studies of the use of archeology in education.
  • Archeology Law for the Public provides information in plain English about archeology laws that protect resources.

Visit archeological sites
Site visits offer students and teachers experiences with archeological materials, the ability to talk with archeologists, and opportunities to think like an archeologist. Here are some ways to find out what is in your area for you and your students to do:

  • Start on the Visit Archeology page. Contact your closest national park or other nearby sites for information about archeology fieldtrips and educational material.
  • See which national parks have outreach programs at Park Educational Resources in archeology. Check out the National Park Service LearnNPS website.
  • Check out the Bureau of Land Management's Adventures in the Past site.
  • Visit your state Department of Education online to learn how anthropology can fit into curriculum requirements and what resources they suggest.
  • Ask your state archeologist about educational programs, such as having a professional speak at your school. A state archeologist could also put you in contact with a nearby archeological society. The National Association of State Archaeologists keeps a list of state archeologists.
  • Participate in a state archeology event. Contacts for states with activities can be found at the State Archeology Weeks and Months page.
  • Contact an archeological center about educational programs and traveling materials. Here are a few centers with resources that may also by helpful for out-of-state teachers.
    • Crow Canyon Archaeological Center:
      Resource guides and online interactive activities are provided in addition to information about on-site programs in Colorado.
    • Anasazi Heritage Center:
      Descriptions of Anasazi life, material for loan, trip planning resources and more for educators are offered on this Colorado museum site.
    • Mississippi Valley Archaeology Center:
      The University of Wisconsin - La Crosse created a primer on pre-European people in the Mississippi Valley and provides information about traveling teacher kits.
    • Southeast Archeological Center:
      This NPS center offers lists of online resources, publications, and training programs.
  • Also see Volunteer Opportunities.

Lesson Plans
Collect lesson plans, activities, and teaching aids. Here are a few of the best places to start looking:

Online Activities
Find interactive anthropology activities that students can do online. Below are several useful sites:

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