Introduction

These activities were developed to help students learn about the prehistoric mound builders who constructed the massive earthworks at the Poverty Point site near Epps, Louisiana and throughout the Mississippi River delta region. This unit is designed to teach archaeological concepts and aspects of the Poverty Point Culture through "hands on" activities which integrate basic curriculum areas and higher level thinking skills. Children will use reading, language, math, science, social studies, art, drama, and physical education skills in meaningful and creative ways as they develop problem solving skills. While doing so, they will also learn about an important part of American history which occurred before Columbus "discovered" these shores.

The activities are also designed to be fun! Students get to act as archaeologists while analyzing artifacts and actual data from Poverty Point. They will make Poverty Point cooking balls for earth oven cooking just as the Poverty Point people did over 3,000 years ago and then experiment to determine if different shapes were used to regulate the amount of heat in the ovens. Students will also be given the opportunity to build pump drills and an ancient spear throwing device called an atlatl. After creating original stories and myths about Poverty Point figurines and ancient carved images, students can dramatize their stories for others. Each of the activities is interdisciplinary and focuses on multiple areas of the curriculum, as well as addressing the requirements of the Louisiana Curriculum Standards.

Enjoy this unit! Try to squeeze in as many activities as you can, but feel free to skip around if you have a limited amount of time. Some of the activities are interrelated, but they will all stand alone if necessary. Information for the teacher, student handouts, and overhead transparency masters are included with each lesson. Each lesson plan includes the following components:

After completing each activity, evaluation of student performance may be based on achievement of objectives, student participation, and the completion of student products. Suggestions for authentic assessment are included in an appendix. Checklists and criteria based evaluation scales have proven to be effective evaluation tools focused on "process" thinking skills rather than a completed "product." Further extensions of activities may be suggested. These could develop into additional activities for your class room or independent projects.