Last week in class, we discussed how best to present anthropological concepts to kids, from preschoolers to high schoolers. Unsurprisingly, there isn't one book or activity that is appropriate for this vast age range. Several students in the class have had experience doing outreach, mainly archaeological, with kids through the Florida Public Archaeology Network (FPAN), but the consensus was that teaching even basic concepts in archaeological methods was best done at the 3rd grade level and above. This makes a lot of sense in terms of childhood development, as by 3rd grade, the vast majority of children can read on their own, can use a computer, and can self-educate -- that is, they can follow up on information they're interested in, through the library, internet, summer camps, etc.
One very useful resource that I didn't know about is FPAN's Beyond Artifacts guide. This large PDF guide provides great information for Florida K-12 teachers about the archaeology of the state and activities to do with the students. Each activity sheet even includes the "Sunshine State Standards" -- that is, which specific public educational standards the activity meets, which I imagine is enormously helpful for teachers interested in bringing archaeology into the classroom. Gregg Harding then led the class in the first activity in the booklet -- Cookie Excavation! Yum.
But we also brainstormed ways to interest the younger kids (preschool-2nd grade) in anthropology. Some of the suggestions included books on cultural differences (e.g., Children Just Like Me), Dig, an archaeology magazine for kids, and coloring books with bits of information that parents can read to their children.
With all of this in mind, the students came up with their projects. Here are the winning entries this week:
* Second Runner-Up: Andy Derlikowski, last week's video challenge winner, created a cute little book called Allison Wants to Be an Underwater Archaeologist. Andy realized that there is a lack of good information about maritime archaeology for the public, especially for kids. Most of what is out there is unfortunately geared towards pirates and treasure hunting. The story is good, the language is spot-on for preschool-young elementary kids, and the illustrations (by his wife, Connie) are adorable. Here's a sample page from the book:
* First Runner-Up: Nelma Bell made a felt board to teach kids about famous biological anthropologists and the kind of work they do. I'd never heard of a felt board (apparently I had a deprived childhood!), but hers was a lot of fun. I particularly liked the Mary Leakey diorama, as you can "excavate" the Proconsul skeleton from the felt-rocks! Nelma included information about each famous bioanthropologist from their online bios, but she pointed out that the fun of a felt board is to create your own story as you go. The overall reaction in the class to this project was, "Shut up and take my money." If you are crafty, you can follow Nelma's instructions in her blog post here and make your own! If you want to buy one or more, you can find Nelma's listings for Bill Bass, Mary Leakey, and Jane Goodall on Etsy.
* And the Winner of the Kids Challenge... Stella Simpsiridis made a 4-minute video for her 4-year-old nephew, explaining the basics about each of the four subfields of anthropology. Here it is:
Thanks for checking out the students' kids challenge projects this week! Join us over the next two weeks for the final challenge of the semester: the Avant-Garde Challenge!