Archaeology Lesson Plan for Elementary School

Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Archeology can be a fun way to learn about people of the past. With this lesson plan, students will learn about the goals of archeology and will practice their own mock excavation and analysis of artifacts.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • Understand the science of archeology and differentiate it from other disciplines
  • Critically think about material artifacts and the roles that they play in human cultures
  • Analyze archeological artifacts as sources of information about other cultures


60 - 90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.


By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4-5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.


  • Copies of the Archaeology Lesson for Kids: Definition and Facts text lesson and lesson quiz, one for each student
  • Whiteboard/projector or chalkboard
  • Trash bags
  • Latex gloves
  • Optional: Printed images of archeological and non-archeological items
  • Ropes and posts (if setting up your own ''excavation site'')


  • Start by asking students what they know about archeology. Make a list on the board of the class' ideas
  • Hand out printed copies of the Archaeology Lesson for Kids: Definition and Facts text lesson.
  • Have students take turns reading aloud the introduction and 'Dig In!' section.
    • What is an archeologist?
    • What do archeologists look for?
  • Have students take turns reading aloud the sections 'What Do Archaeologists Do?' and 'Archaeology Facts.'
    • What is an excavation?
    • What does trash tell us about a culture?
    • What sort of trash do we create, and what does it say about us?
  • Read the 'Lesson Summary' and then pass out the lesson quiz and have students work independently to complete it.
  • Once everyone has completed their quiz, bring their attention back to the list you compiled about archeology and have the class discuss it again.
    • Was the first list accurate?
    • Is there anything that was on the list that needs removed, or anything else that needs added?
    • What can trash tell us about a culture and the people who lived in it?
  • Optional: If you feel that the class needs further discussion, you can try holding up/projecting a series of images and asking if this is something archeologists work with. Thumbs up/thumbs down responses will be enough. Images like ancient temples, arrowheads, pieces of pottery, etc should be identified as archeological material, while images of dinosaurs and rocks should be identified as non-archeological.

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