Archeologists Dig (7-11yr) Find, Identfy & Label
Becky in Leicester, UK
ARCHEOLOGISTS DIG for 7-11 year-olds.
Invitations could include a map of the geographical area of the 'dig' and some fabricated 'historical details' of the area about old buildings believed to have stood there, dinosaurs, or a picture of a little piece of the 'puzzle', such as the corner of a broken pot or a weapon, that has already been found. You could even go really gruesome and hint at the finding of a mummified body! Tell guests to wear old clothes/boiler suits and old footwear.
You need to find an outdoor space, a garden or even a small yard would work. It helps if the weather is fine, but provide big umbrellas or even gazebos for allowing the archaeologists to dig on whatever the weather. Buy a few big sacks of ordinary sand, some pots to break/bury/a fake axe or knife or use any old looking items lying around the house/garden/garage.
A plastic skeleton from a joke shop would be a spooky addition you think the children are old enough. This could be seperated into sections so that once dug up from the ground, it can be pieced together and reattached - the identity, age, gender of the ancient remains can be a mystery! Or bandages could be wrapped around for a mummified effect. Some cheap but real looking jewellery would be an exciting find or some old coins.
Create various patches of sand/soil with items buried in each. If you feel really patient, dig quite deep into the ground, making a flat area. Build an intricate building, or just part of or the foundations of a building out of lego or similar construction toy and press into the hole you have made. Put a couple of interesting items into the building and cover with sand, tipping some water over to give a solid ground effect. Some common fossils might be interesting to kids.
Bury stuff in layers to mimic layers representing eras. Even include in the higher layers some modern everyday objects for comedy effect and awareness! Do all this without your child/ren around or it will spoil the surprise.
The archeologists will need small tools, blunt knives, spoons (not too big or they will dig everything up too quick)and some brushes of various sizes. They will also need bowls of water for washing artefacts, paper towels and and some strong glue for the next stage, restoration!
Provide tables for working at and displaying finds and artefacts. Some imaginative children might enjoy books and reference directories of real ancient artefacts to identify their finds or at least ponder over the origins/age etc. Sticky labels to write on and label finds. Provide buckets for spare sand and bits of wood for squatting on and propping up little tunnels they may have dug. Some big jars with blue coloured water for preserving artefacts and a 'museum area' to display their work.
One idea is to split the children up into teams, placing each team in a particular area, to give an element of competition and to encourage concentrating on one project at a time. Give instructions to the children to be extremely careful not to damage any of the finds. Tell them that they must work as a team to uncover the finds and restore them if broken, preserve them if needed and record the locations of the finds on maps - printed out beforehand with grids and permanent structures such as walls, fences, trees shrubs etc detailed on. Provide refreshment as they go along and let them get as mucky as they like.
Encourage high drama when an item is uncovered- the film crew rush over urgently and everybody stops work to peer into the hole! At the end, give 'dig' certificates with each guests name on, as a momento of the party. A 'photographer' or 'film crew' moving around the site, capturing history in the making. (You might find it helpful to study an archeology tv show for inspiration here.) Food could include, a pyramid cake for example, complete with tomb and sweets and gifts inside.
Gift bags could include photos of the young archeologist at work. This idea can be made as simple of complex as you like for younger or older kids and has a real educational/thought-provoking but also outside, adventure type of feel to it!