Going dotty at Dothill

Yesterday I spent the day with a group of Year 4 pupils from Dothill Primary School in Wellington. I’d been asked to go in and spend a day with the group, teaching them about archaeology and even giving them some practical experience. Luckily I wasn’t on my own, one of the Ironbridge Archaeology Volunteers, came along with me to help with the day. We started off with a presentation of what archaeology is and what our role as archaeologists is all about. It was great to see so many of the kinds interested, and both answering and asking questions. My favourite question of the day was from a little boy who asked ‘what qualifications do you need to become an archaeologist?’ I would say he might one day be challenging me for my job! They were obviously prepared with questions as we were also asked things like, why we became archaeologists, what was our most interesting and expensive find, what sites did we work on, and even why we were called archaeologists? That one stumped me!

Following on from this we did a timeline activity with them where they had to match different sites and artfacts with the different periods of history from the Palaeolithic right up to modern day. I was amazed just how many of them recognised sites like Stonehenge, Hampton Court Palace, and Ludlow Castle, there was even one girl who recognised the Mold Gold Cape, which was completely unexpected. They might not have been able to identify them all, and struggled with some to match them to their date, but on the whole it was great to see such a good understanding of history and archaeology at such a young age.

 After that it was time for the class to become members of the Ironbridge Archaeology UNIT. Everybody doned their high viz Ironbridge Archaeology jackets, and settled down to some work. There were four work stations and we did a 15 minute round robin so everyone got a chance to have a go at the activities. The first station was the all important finds washing. As we all know when finds come out of the ground they tend to be a bit dirty, so here the kids learnt how to wash finds, and they did such a good job I had to make them all dirty again so we had enough to clean for everybody. From there the kids went on to finds recording. I had put together a variety of artefacts from which they could choose to record and draw. Then they had to have a go at catagorizing different artefacts depending on their function. Finally everybody had a go at trying to reconstuct a pot. Only one mini-group managed to get it finished in the alloted time, and the end result was beautiful, although I’d guess it was more masking tape than pot by the end of it.

The final activity of the day was to get the group to think about the informative side of archaeology and heritage and so I set them off on the task of creating a heritage trail of their school playground. Working in pairs, they had to think about where they wanted the trail to go, who the intended audience was, did they want it to be educational or entertaining and how they wanted to present it. There were such a range of ideas with some wanting to use PowerPoint, others using Publisher, and some making a comic book style trail. We had themed trails too, one pair decided to do a pirate themed trail and another decided on a ghostly theme. I can’t wait to see the finished articles.

I thoroughly enjoyed my day and I hope the kids did too. I’m just about recovered, ready to do it all again on Thursday. I can’t wait!

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