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A Journey to a New Land

Sea Mammals

Teachers' Resources

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The practice of archaeology relies on academic and scientific knowledge for laboratory work, library research and report writing. It also requires keen observation skills and a creative approach to interpreting and reconstructing the past. Archaeology can also be a lot of fun!

The following activities are designed to present students with opportunities to learn more about archaeological methods and the human past in an engaging and enjoyable manner.


Learning Objectives:

  • to recognize that during the ice age, North America was populated by many now-extinct animals.
  • to recognize similarities and differences between extinct animals and their modern counterparts


  1. 1. Ask students to research and report on one of the ice age animals featured in this website. Students can seek additional information on these animals from library resources or the internet. Their report could include some or all of the following information:
    • physical characteristics, habitat and diet
    • interactions (if any) with humans
    • comparison with a modern counterpart
    • a drawing of the animal
  2. 2. Advanced Ask the students to research extinction processes. What factors contribute to modern extinctions? How do modern extinctions compare to ancient extinctions?

CLASS DEBATE: Extinction of the Ice Age Animals

Learning Objectives:

  • to recognize the topographical and climatic factors that may impact animal life
  • to consider the influence of human actions on the environment
  • to develop a well-considered hypothesis
  • to critically analyse various hypotheses


  1. 1. Discuss the mass extinction of ice age animals that occurred by about 10,000 years ago in North America and Europe.
  2. 2. Discuss the concept of a scientific hypothesis, its value in providing a basis for further research, and its limitations as a “proven” concept.
  3. 3. Divide the class into groups and ask each group to research an explanation for the extinction of the ice age animals. Each group may choose an existing hypothesis, or may develop one of their own.
  4. 4. In addition to developing their own hypothesis, the groups must also develop arguments to refute some of the other hypotheses.
  5. 5. Hold a class debate in which each group has an opportunity to both present their own hypothesis, and to challenge the hypotheses of the other groups.


Learning Objectives:

  • to recognize organic and inorganic objects
  • to recognize that the archaeological record is very limited - it contains only a very small percentage of the materials from ancient times

Materials Needed:

  • brightly coloured stickers
  • the “Preservation of Archaeological Materials” handout


  1. 1. Have students read the Preservation page of this website. Discuss the difference between “organic” and inorganic” objects.
  2. 2. The archaeological materials most commonly preserved at early North American archaeological sites are stone tools. Ask the class to suggest other items people would have made that have not survived (clothing, housing structures, wooden tools, etc.).
  3. 3. Distribute the "Preservation of Archaeological Materials" student handout, and ask the students to work in groups to complete the activity.
  4. 4. Archaeologists usually have to interpret archaeological sites based on very limited evidence. What do students think are some of the conclusions that future researchers might make about our culture, based on the classroom exercise? What can that tell us about conclusions that we may make today about past cultures?
Grid Plan

Preservation of Archaeological Materials

Walk around your classroom and put a sticker on all of the “inorganic” items you can find. Then draw a plan of your classroom on the grid below, showing only these items.

Now imagine that your classroom is discovered by archaeologists in the year 3005! Only the inorganic items have survived – sticks of lead are all that remain of your pencils, and piles of metal tubes lie where your chairs and desks once stood. How might future archaeologists interpret this “site”? What conclusions might they reach about the people who used this room? What classroom activities will leave no trace in the archaeological record?

CAREER RESEARCH: Becoming an Archaeologist

Learning Objectives:

  • to discover the skills and training required for a career in archaeology.


  1. 1. The archaeologist is often portrayed in television and film as a dashing daredevil who discovers exciting archaeological sites and rescues irreplaceable archaeological treasures against all odds! But what does a professional archaeologist really do? What training and skills are required?
  2. 2. Ask the students to research this subject. They should consider the following questions:
    • What education and training is required?
    • What skills and talents would help an archaeologist succeed?
    • Are jobs in archaeology easy to find?
    • Would the student like to work in archaeology?