Making Masks, Creating Myths, Exploring
Written by Katharine Barrett, Lincoln
Bergman, Gigi Dornfest, Linda Lipner, and Carolyn Willard
There is both great beauty and great math-and-science learning
in this sensitive, exciting unit. With its tapestry of anthropology,
archeology, and mask-making, Investigating Artifacts
is unique among guided-discovery math and science activities.
This unit presents three intriguing activities related to anthropology,
archaeology, and diverse Native American and world cultures.
Students are immediately involved, hands-and-minds-on, as they
sort and classify material objects found on a walk, then make
masks from those materials. They create stories to explain natural
phenomena and learn how ancient peoples used folklore to explain
and represent the natural world.
In a very personal introduction to archaeology, students learn
that a midden, in this context, is a term for deposits of artifacts
earlier peoples left behind. Teams of students then sift through
"artifacts" in shoe-box middens, learning the skills
required for excavation, map-drawing, and curatorship. A major
scientific thread in all activities relates to inferences that
can be drawn from varying evidence.
The guide is filled with information and resources on Native
American and world masks, myths, and archaeological sites. There
is ample opportunity to introduce broader social-science elements,
focus on Native American wisdom, and connect the substantive
science in this unit to real appreciation for collecting, preserving,
and understanding clues to our varied past.
Time: Six or more 45-minute sessions.
Comment on this GEMS unit.
Spanish Language Student Materials
What materials are needed to present this unit? See the full list.