On the French Frontier 1700-1800

Teachers Behind the Scenes Lesson Plan

Grades: 8 - 12
Subjects: Social Studies
Concepts: Practice the scientific method of inquiry
Skills: Problem solving, coming up with and testing a hypothesis
Can Use With: Objects and Clues to the Past
Materials: Photographs of bottles, information about the process of bottle making
Time: 30 min.

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Learning Objectives

Students will learn to decode artifacts using a series of questions basic to the science of material-culture studies and archaeology. They will learn that objects and artifacts can answer certain questions based on their appearance alone. Through a combination of observation, research, and comparison with like or known artifacts, students will be able to determine the aproximate age and use of an object, as well as how it was made and the materials from which is was made. In the second activity students will test their observation skills by examining and roughly dating three glass shards.

Lesson Plan

This has been designed to be a self-directed activity. The questions students learn to ask about objects provide the basis for organized research in both the social sciences and the earth sciences.

Activity #1 is a warmup to activity #2. Activity #2 allows students to test their new knowledge. No answer key has been provided. Students are not being tested on their answer, but on the quality of their argument supporting their answer.

The answer to activity #2: the middle fragment of glass is returned because it is the kick-up of a modern wine bottle. The other two fragments, or kick-ups, were both found at the Cahokia site and date to the French period. They are aproximately the same age: both have the identifying circular imprint of the pontil marker; both glass fragments are thick, reflecting the crude materials that were used by the French to make wine bottles; both glass fragments have a pearly patina, which suggests they have been in the ground a long time.

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