In case you didn’t know (and there’s every chance you didn’t), July is the festival of British Archaeology, and throughout the month there are numerous events taking place up and down the country. Whilst few younger children are likely to know what archaeology is (i.e. the study of human culture through the recovery of material culture), it’s very easy to get them hooked.
Why not take this opportunity to try out some fun activities with them? Here are some of our favourite suggestions to keep you occupied in the build up to the summer holidays.
# 1 – Cave paintings
The earliest art known to man was in the form of cave paintings. They date back at least 35,000 years and have been found in every part of the world. Their precise purpose is often disputed, with experts not sure whether they were just for decorative purposes, or if they were used to communicate with others about hunting opportunities.
Whatever their purpose, why not make your own cave and decorate it yourselves?
You can build a cave frame using bamboo and chicken wire, and then cover with papier mache. For an authentic look you can then cover with brown paper (or simply paint it directly). Do beware though that it can take a few days for this to dry completely, so isn’t a quick activity.
However, once it is dried you will have an amazing cave for the children to fully decorate with any doodles of their choice. Why not ask them to draw a recent trip, or what’s happened in their day?
Of course, if you’re short of time simply pin paper to the walls for them to scribble on.
# 2 – Make a Mummy
Mummies are the preserved remains of humans, and animals. Whilst they have been found all over the world, it is the Egyptians who are most famous for their afterlife preparations. The entire process would take up to 70 days, and was a very skilled task involving the removal of organs and the cleansing of the skin.
Whilst it can seem a little gruesome (don’t worry, we won’t go in to details) it is also fascinating the changes that bodies would undergo. For older children who have been studying Ancient Egypt at school, creating their own mummified orange is a great way to bring this to life (pardon the pun).
Simply take an orange, slit it open and remove the fruit inside. Then stuff it with kitchen roll to absorb any of the moisture left over. Continue to do this until you are sure the orange is as dry as it can be.
Then sprinkle the inside of the orange with a spoonful of cinnamon and a few cloves. In a bowl mix together salt and bicarbonate of soda, and pour this in to the orange until it is full. Once done, close the orange up and start wrapping a bandage around it. These can be secured with just a knot, or by using safety pins.
Keep your mummy in a warm, dry place such as an airing cupboard and leave it for a few weeks. The whole process can take a while to get going, but if you keep checking back every three weeks or so you will be able to see the changes taking place.
# 3 – Make a time capsule
Why not encourage your children to leave something behind for other people to find in the future? Create your own time capsule (it doesn’t have to be fancy, a bottle or sweet tin will do) and fill it with a newspaper clipping, a drawing, some photographs and maybe a toy they no longer play with.
The truth is you can put anything you like in it, and then bury it in the garden for someone to find one day.
# 4– Go fossil hunting
Chances are you might be hitting the beach this summer and a great pass time is getting the kids hunting for fossils. Simply give them a bucket and off you go.
Head on over to our Facebook page and let us know if you have any fun activities planned throughout the month. If you do make anything, please share your photos with us! We love to see what you’ve been up to.