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Time Capsules of History


This assignment asks students to review the history and existing information about an ancient American civilization that they will explore in class or from information inspired by another history resource. Drawing on the knowledge of the World History they have studied this year, students will create two time capsules: one focusing on a selected ancient American indigenous civilization and one representing contemporary society. Students will share their time capsules and contents through group display. A time capsule is a historic collection of objects and/or information, intended as a way to communicate with people in the future. There are two types of time capsules: intentional and unintentional. Intentional time capsules are placed on purpose and are intended to be opened in the future. Intentional time capsules are sometimes created and buried during community celebrations and placed in the cornerstone of a new building. Unintentional time capsules are usually archaeological in nature and may include gravesites, cave paintings, or buried civilizations that have been unearthed in an archaeological dig. What are examples of ancient time capsules? Do you know examples of more recent time capsules?

There are numerous examples of ancient time capsules from different civilizations. For example, when Egyptian King Tutankhamen’s burial tomb was exposed by British archaeologists in 1922, the discovery revealed an unintentional time capsule from 1346 B.C. When King Tutankhamen was placed in this underground tomb, he was expected to remain there untouched and protected. However, its discovery revealed treasures in gold and new information about this civilization. Since its discovery, researchers have debated whether or not his tomb should have been opened.


Time Capsule


You will need:
Lesson plan length: 2 – 3 weeks.
Information on ancient local indigenous culture.
Presentation tools depending upon class capabilities.
Low tech: poster board for each group to draw a diagram of their capsules.
High tech: computer assisted PowerPoint presentations to potentially post on the classroom website.

Pre-Assessment: Instructors play a directive role in going over the reading, glossary terms and the following standards and guidelines. Instructors should evaluate the enclosed resources and determine the relevancy of the samples to their students. Resources include guides, tour books, history books, and even guest speakers who may come in to discuss the importance of a place in the community. Instructors should consider integrating a local tribe’s history and sources if they are available, as well as analyze the area’s natural resources for authentic capsule item selection.

Lesson Hypothesis: Instructors should place this lesson within the class’ examination of ancient world history and Geography. For example, what parallels may be found between ancient and modern societies? Are there similar sources for different groups throughout time? What are the differences in civilizations? What is the role of material sources passed down throughout history from generation to generation? This Lesson plan is designed for students in sixth grade. Students in grade six expand their understanding of history by studying the people and events that ushered in the dawn of the major Western and non-Western ancient civilizations. Geography is of special significance in the development of the human story. Continued emphasis is placed on the everyday lives, problems, and accomplishments of people, their role in developing social, economic, and political structures, as well as in establishing and spreading ideas that helped transform the world forever. Students develop higher levels of critical thinking by considering why civilizations developed where and when they did, why they became dominant, and why they declined. Students analyze the interactions among the various cultures, emphasizing their enduring contributions and the link, despite time, between the contemporary and ancient worlds.

goals & objectives

In completing this lesson, successful students will:

• Define and understand the glossary terms included.
• Examine ancient local civilizations.
• Assess how the local environment and geography played an important role in the lives of the region’s indigenous populations.
• Evaluate various aspects of daily life in multiple, autonomous societies of history.
• Determine shared experiences between numerous cultures of both the past and the present.
• Construct various time lines of key events, people, and periods of the historical era they are studying.
• Use a variety of maps and documents to identify physical and cultural features of neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries and to explain the historical migration of people, expansion and disintegration of empires, and the growth of economic systems.
• Frame questions that can be answered by historical study and research.
• Distinguish relevant from irrelevant information, essential from incidental information, and verifiable from unverifiable information in historical narratives and stories.
• Explain the central issues and problems from the past, placing people and events in a matrix of time and place.
• Explain the sources of historical continuity and how the combination of ideas and events explains the emergence of new patterns.
• Recognize the role of chance, oversight, and error in history.
• Recognize that interpretations of history are subject to change as new information is uncovered. • Use vocabulary related to life in ancient America.
• Learn about everyday life for a specific tribe in ancient America.
• Speculate about what ancient Indian historical objects might reveal about its people.
• Appreciate the contributions of ancient Native Americans to our modern world.
• Learn to the role of history in creating community.
• Use historical methods that include interpreting sources, analyzing change over time and evaluating different ways of doing history.
• Create a time capsule for the chosen ancient civilization.
• Create a second time capsule—this one for their contemporary society using the same questions.
• Share time capsules with the class.

the lesson

Instructors should introduce the lesson plan, go over glossary terms and provide information on local Native American history. In addition to employing the course’s textbook, instructors should seek out other sources from other books and object, to inviting a guest speaker to the class. In respect for indigenous peoples, please consider how the ancient group might want to be represented when deciding upon artifacts to incorporate into the “Time Capsule” lesson plan.

Instructors should dedicate one week to covering information on a local ancient tribe. Because history is source-driven this is a way to introduce the different ways groups have communicated, such as through storytelling and the oral traditions of many civilizations.

Next, instructors assign the two time capsules. Students must create two time capsules: one for the group they are investigating and one to represent contemporary society. In creating the two time capsules students should answer the following questions:
Is this an intentional time capsule?
Why are you making it?
What will the time capsule be made of, its size, etc? Include any details about the container itself. What will be inside the time capsule?
How did you choose each item?
Where will the time capsule be placed/buried? Why?
Is the time capsule to be opened on a specific date? When and why?

Sharing: Students should share completed time capsules with the class and discuss again the issue of intentionality in the discovery and use of time capsules.

Ask the class what they have learned about the process of picking items for this ancient group and then picking objects to represent themselves.
How did they want to be remembered?
Did they enjoy it?
How does this activity make history live on? For example, does it contribute to the understanding of a contemporary group of Indians?
What other information might help in creating a time capsule for an ancient tribe?
Do they have suggestions for the future?

case studies


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