Contributor: Danielle Childers. Lesson ID: 10306

What can people tell about you by the stuff you have? Can they tell if you brush your teeth, like to read, or play with toys? With videos, games, and grandparents, learn about artifacts and history!


People and Their Environment, World

learning style
Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Grade Level
Primary (K-2)
Lesson Type
Quick Query

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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Can you believe that the toy you played with this morning could someday be important to history?  It could be a tool for archaeologists in the future to learn about what and how kids played in the 21st century!

Archaeologists find artifacts to learn about the past.

An artifact is an item made by humans.  To find out how your toys can become artifacts, watch this What is Archaeology? by Shmoop video:   

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Check out this link to see toys from when your grandparents and great-grandparents were kids: At Home in a Century of Progress? 1920-1950: Toys from Illinois State Museum.

Do some of them look familiar?  Have you played with any of these types of toys before?  Are there any toys that look fun to play with?  Pictures of these toys tell us a story about what kids liked to play with in the past.   

Now look at some common items in a home when your grandparents were kids: At Home in a House Subdivided: 1950-Present from Illinois State Museum.

Are some of these things in houses today?  Is there an item you are not familiar with?  Point to it and tell your teacher what you see and make a guess as to what it is.

Looking at artifacts helps us understand how people lived in a certain time and place.   

  1. Go to the Downloadable Resources in the right-hand sidebar and print out the Artifact Memory sheet on cardstock (light colored preferred).
  2. Before you cut it apart, look at each artifact and the person who owns it.
  3. Share with your teacher what the artifact tells you about the person.
  4. Once you have shared your thoughts with your teacher, cut out or have your teacher cut out each square.
  5. Shuffle the pile of cards and lay them face down on the ground or table.
  6. Arrange them in a square pattern and follow the rules of “memory” or “concentration.”
  7. You will need a partner to play.
  8. On each player’s turn he or she will turn over 2 cards.
  9. If he or she matches the artifact with the correct person, they get to keep the card.
  10. If the cards do not make a match, the player should turn both cards back to face down.
  11. Play the game until all of the cards have been matched. The player with the most cards wins!
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