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Walnut valley Unified School District

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Learning about the past

September 7, 2017

By Kelli Gile, WVUSD Office of Community Resources

DIAMOND BAR, CA--Sixth graders at Chaparral Middle School have been digging into recent social studies lessons about early humans.

On Tuesday, teacher Gary Imai’s students learned what it’s like to be an archaeologist, carefully sifting and brushing through sand for prehistoric artifacts.

“Here’s a leg, I think it’s from a saber-tooth!” exclaimed 11-year-old Sophia Hayes holding up a 3” synthetic dinosaur bone.

Students taped string into quadrants on trays before carefully removing skulls and skeleton parts using shovels, screens, and brushes. 

After locating several pieces, they sketched pictures to help discover what kind of animal had been unearthed.

One of extinct mammals they learned, the mammuthus primigenius, better known as the woolly mammoth, is a species that lived 400,000 years ago in East Asia and weighed in at 11,000 lbs.

Working in pairs, students rotated through six activity stations carrying field books to record their findings.

“My aim is for students to be able to touch and experience archaeology and prehistoric times beyond the textbook,” Imai shared.

“It makes history come alive!”

At one table, the young archaeologists, used a mortar and pestle, just like early humans did, to crush rock before painting prehistoric cave art animals.

Tiny Stone Age man models were displayed at another table where students matched the early hominids with time period and cultural achievements.

The curious students identified tools in an archaeologist field kit including a compass, trowel, caliper, photo cards, and variety of brushes.  

“The compass helps us navigate and the caliper measures treasures,” one boy wrote in his journal.

“A trusty trowel is the archaeologist’s best friend,” the teacher said.

At another simulated dig site, classmates sifted through sand in search of arrowheads.

As each student located a tiny artifact, they were directed put it in a plastic bag.

“It’s my gift to you!” Imai said.

Shown:

Chaparral Middle School 6th graders sift through sand searching for prehistoric artifacts

Chaparral students crush chalk into powder with mortar and pestle before painting prehistoric cave animals. 

Chaparral Middle School 6th graders get a hands-on archaeology and artifact experience while studying early humans. 

Chaparral Middle School social studies teacher Gary Imai shares an official 7,000-year-old California chipped stone bear artifact. 

Chaparral Middle School students paint prehistoric bulls and horses that may have been found on cave walls.