Back From the Future
Language Arts Activity
Archaeologists of the far future discover a well-preserved structure
believed to date back to the twentieth-century United States. What might they find and
how might they interpret the strange artifacts they uncover?
In this creative writing assignment, your students assume the role of future
archaeologists excavating the remains of an ancient twentieth-century classroom
(or other site of your choice). Have students theorize about the past uses of the room and the
objects they find in it.
WHAT YOU'LL NEED
- Everyday classroom objects
- Post-it notes, masking tape, or some other means of tagging your selected artifacts
- Numbered slips of paper
- Empty container
WHAT TO DO
- Select the objects in the classroom to be "found" and studied by the
archaeological team. You might tag each "artifact" with a
number and allow students to pick numbers from a container. You may also
wish to have one or more students report on the room itself (its shape;
its possible use -- for example, throne room, home, or tomb).
- Assign each archaeologist to report (orally or in essay form) on a
particular artifact. Students should:
- Describe the selected artifact in detail
- Draw a diagram of it
- Use their imaginations to guess what function(s) the item may have had
for the citizens of the ancient United States.
For example: A pencil might be interpreted as a wooden
rod of authority (officials of different ranks having shorter or longer pencils)
or possibly some form of dart-like weapon. Encourage students to explain
what their artifacts might tell them about the people of the ancient United States.
- Student essays could take the form of stories or journal entries that could
combined into a "record" of the dig. Classrooms could also share their
journals and theories about what twentieth-century United States might have been like.
- David Macaulay's well-illustrated Motel of Mysteries, about a
motel mistaken for a burial chamber by forty-first century archaeologists, provides a
humorous example of archaeological misinterpretation and would be an
excellent primer for this assignment.
Activity Search |
Reading Center |
Math Center |
Social Studies Center
Education Place |
You may download, print and make copies of this page for use in your classroom,
provided that you include the copyright notice shown below on all such copies.
Copyright © 1997 Houghton Mifflin Company. All Rights Reserved.