wNetSchool HomeThe Practical Web Service for K-12 TeacherswNetStation
WNET Educational Initiatives
Instructional Television
Lesson Plan Database

Grades 1-2


This lesson has been designed to provide primary students with an understanding that artifacts preserved by nature and humans are used to become better in-formed about the history and potential future of the planet Earth and its environment. Video and hands-on activities help students internalize that all individuals in each generation are entrusted to protect the planet and are responsible to future inhabitants for pre-serving it. Video, interaction and manipulatives help students understand how human activities affect their generation's quality of life and how current activities impact future generations. The lesson assumes a holistic approach, is designed as units which can be taught over several days and can serve as a catalyst to reinforce skills taught in other subject areas.
ITV Series
Learning Objectives
Students will be able to:
(per class)

(per student)
Pre-Viewing Activities
Session 1
Photographs taken of students on previous days should not be mentioned at this time. Introduce the lesson by referring to one of the activities you documented photo-graphically as you ask students to share any fact they can recall about it. If needed, provide specific clues by asking, (e.g.)"What was the lunch menu on this day? With whom were you sitting? What were you wearing? What game did you play?" etc. Confirm only correct facts or answers. After a reasonable opportunity has been given to recall specifics ask, "How can I be so sure you recalled the specifics accurately or incorrectly?" Allow an opportunity for students to remember you had photographed the activities; then produce the photos to confirm your claims.

Ask, "What are other ways to document events or information for future use that you know about?" Allow students to respond. (paintings, videos, CDs, printed page, artifacts, photographs, etc.) Write the term future on chalkboard. Ask, "What is meant when someone speaks of the future?" Allow students to tell their conception of future. Ask, "Are there things you can accurately predict about the future?" Lead discussion toward an understanding that future refers to things existing or occurring at a later time. Ask, "What future things can you predict?" (planned events, holidays, seasons, days of the week, months, years, etc.) Ask, "What things are you unable to predict twenty years into the future?" Allow for interaction as students share examples (e.g.) who you will marry; how many children you will have; what your income will be; etc. Discuss setting goals and how this can influence (but not control) their futures.

Ask, "What is the opposite of future?" (past) "How do you learn about the past?" Provide an opportunity for students to respond. Discuss tangible sources of information about the past which are available in your school as CD's or published encyclopedias, films, videos and the photographs you took of the class. Ask, "Where in the community (outside school) would you go to find information about the past?" (library, museum, etc.) Allow students to share their knowledge and express opinions by asking, "Is it of value for us to be knowledgeable of the past?"

Write archaeologist on the chalkboard. Discuss the term as a scientist who searches for and studies remains or fossil relics and artifacts of past human and other animal life and their activities. Say, "An archaeological find could be thought of as a kind of picture preserved in the earth. It is through archaeological finds that we know about animals and plants that once lived on Earth." Ask, "What large animal do you know about that is extinct but once roamed and dominated our planet?" Encourage students to share what they know about dinosaurs. Write dinosaur on chalkboard.
Focus Viewing
Say, "Just as you have shared what you know about dinosaurs, so do archaeologists. As they studied fossil remains buried deep in Earth's crust, they learned about foods they ate, their skin and even other animals they associated with. Based on their findings, today you will add to your knowledge of dinosaurs as you learn about one that lived in a nest." Tell students they will see a video of two scientists discussing ways fossils of dinosaurs are studied. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch the video and be prepared to describe how dinosaurs looked and how they lived."

Viewing Activities
Dinosaurs #107

Begin tape with visual of Rob Long; audio is host asking, "Rob, how do we begin to study a dinosaur?" PAUSE tape on visual of the two men and a model of triceratops; audio is, "No-o-o." Allow time for students to share what they learned as they describe how dinosaurs looked and lived. Ask, "Was it a real dinosaur you saw on the video?" (No; it was a model.) Briefly discuss model as you write term on the chalkboard. Ask, "Why was a model used in the video instead of a real dinosaur?" (Review and reinforce ex-tinct.) Write triceratops on chalkboard; divide into syllables, tri-cer-a-tops, as students practice pronouncing the name. Say, "Since triceratops is extinct, how do you suppose scientists decided it looked like the video model?" Allow students to share their beliefs. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch the video to find out if what you believe is correct."

RESUME tape. PAUSE tape on visual of Mr. Long; audio is, "...often we compare it to living reptiles." Allow time for students to discuss whether their beliefs were accurate. Ask, "Which animals living on Earth today are descendents of dino-saurs?" (reptiles) List on chalkboard as students name examples of reptiles they know about. Say, "Whenever fossil remains of an extinct animal are found, archaeologists take much care to not damage or destroy them as they are carefully removed and studied in great detail." Ask, "How could you make a comparison between fossil remains and the photographs taken of the class?" Elicit discussion relating to both as a type of picture which provided information about appearance, skin (or clothing) and others they lived among and played with.

Give students a specific responsibility while viewing as you say, "Watch the next video and be prepared to tell how scientists can learn so much from studying the bones of an extinct animal." RESUME tape. PAUSE tape on visual of the two men and tail vertebrae; audio is, "Well, I'm glad they went about and changed it." Provide opportunity for volunteers to ex-plain that scientists study bones and other fossil remains, then compare them with animals which live on Earth today. Say, "After much study and many comparisons scientists base decisions on all the facts they have, then decide what the extinct animal probably looked like." Write pro-bably looked like on the chalkboard. Ask, "What does this phrase mean to you?" Encourage interaction among students as you lead discussion to conclusion that scientists cannot prove an extinct animal looked exactly like the model, however, it is their best guess based upon all the scientific facts they have been able to gather.

Ask, "What was the mistake scientists made about one dinosaur as told in the video?" (Skull bones of one dinosaur were found in the same area among the fossil remains of another dinosaur.) Encourage students to use their imaginations and ask, "What do you believe may have happened that caused the skull of one dinosaur to be found near the skeleton of another?" Accept all ex-planations without challenge. Encourage the class to decide on the best explanation presented.

Say, "You already know that dinosaurs are classified as reptiles. How are the offspring of most reptiles reproduced?" (hatch from an egg) To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch the next video to find out if you are correct." RESUME tape. STOP tape on visual of two men and the skeleton of a baby dinosaur; audio is, "That is truly amazing." Allow students to discuss how dinosaurs reproduced young. (fertilized eggs were laid and later hatched) List on chalkboard as students name other animals that hatch from eggs. Explain that scientists think some dinosaurs behaved much like birds when caring for their young. They built nests, took turns in watching over the baby dinosaurs and both parents brought food for them to eat. Say, "At one time scientists thought most dinosaurs abandoned their babies after the eggs hatched, however, as additional evidence was discovered, they recognized the mistake and changed their beliefs about dinosaurs caring for their young." Ask, "Why is it important for scientists or anyone else to admit they were mistaken whenever new information proves they were wrong?" Encourage students to consider the question from both a scientific and a personal per-spective.

Say, "In the next video, you will visit a site where dinosaur bones are being dug for future study." To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch and be prepared to explain how the bones are being removed from the hillside."

Digging for Dinosaurs #106

Begin tape with visual of the host climbing a wall of bones; audio is the sound of someone walking. PAUSE tape on visual of the host farther up the wall of bones; audio is sound of a hammer. Allow students to describe the exposed bones in the hillside and how they are being removed. Ask, "How do you think the bones came to be in the hillside?" Accept all responses. Encourage students to compare bones they saw in the hillside to those in the previous videos.

Provide students an opportunity to predict the reason some bones are not removed from the hillside. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch the next video and decide if the reason you predicted is correct." RESUME tape. PAUSE tape on close-up of the guide's face; audio is, "... and then he would take it down into our laboratory and work on it there in more detail." Give students an opportunity to validate predictions that some bones were left un-disturbed in the hillside so visitors could see "the picture" of dinosaur bones de-posited in ancient times by nature.

Write theory on the chalkboard. Ask students to tell what a theory is. Direct discussion to conclusion that a theory is a best guess or idea based on a study of all available facts. Emphasize a theory is developed when the actual reason for something is not known. Present the following scenario, then instruct students to develop their own theory or best guess related to what actually happened. Scenario: A classmate remembers placing lunch money in the pocket of their jacket before leaving home for school; the money is not there when it is time for lunch although the jacket is hanging on the coat rack where it was placed earlier in the day. Encourage students to develop a theory about the missing lunch money based on the limited information they have been given. (e.g. the student re-members incorrectly and the money was never placed inside the jacket; the money fell out of the pocket; someone took the money) Accept all theories presented by students. Say, "Eventually, the lunch money is found under a boot on the floor beneath the hanging jacket. Based on the new information, do you need to change your theory?" Allow students to adjust their theories. Emphasize the best theory is the money accidentally fell from the pocket onto the floor. Ask, "If the student remembered incorrectly, would the money have been found?" (no) "If someone had intentionally taken the money, would it have been placed on the floor?" (probably not)

Discuss how problems are always solved with the development of a theory. Stress the importance for willingness to change a theory as new information is discovered. This is important in the scientific world and in our personal lives.

Say, "In the next video, you will hear how scientists developed a theory about how the dinosaur bones came to be in the mountainside." To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch and be prepared to tell how the scientist's theory was developed by studying a kind of picture left in the mountainside by nature." FAST FORWARD tape to visual of three people in a laboratory looking at a fossil; audio is, "Neat, but what I want to know is how did all those dinosaur bones get here in the first place." STOP tape on visual of host and the guide at the wall of bones; audio is, "I guess nobody ever took a picture of one." Remind students the host is referring to a photograph taken with a camera; the picture left by nature pro-vides much information about dinosaurs that can be preserved even without a camera. Allow time for students to tell how the scientist developed a theory by studying the picture left by nature in the mountainside.

Provide each student with a flat, relatively thin rectangle of sculpting clay contained in a sealable plastic bag in order to maintain moistness. Say, "Use the sculpting clay to create an impression or picture in the clay." Next, distribute to each student an object with recognizable features suitable for imprinting. Say, "Use the object to create a fossil-like imprint in the clay." Caution students to apply light pressure as heavy pressure will cause the object to pass through the clay. (Suitable objects for imprinting could include a button, a coin, a pine cone, a chicken bone, a small twig, an unusual dried pasta; etc.) Assist as needed; have students use a stylus or pencil to make initials for identification purposes. Reserve an area for "fossils" to be laid out and allow them to dry. After fossils have dried, a cloth stained with tempera or finger paint can be rubbed over the imprint to highlight it. Upon completion, allow individuals to showcase their fossil as classmates develop their own theories in an attempt to accurately identify the object used to create the fossil picture. Display the fossil pictures in the classroom for visitors to enjoy.

Session 2
Ask, "In what way did the (artifacts) fossil pictures you created imitate a process of nature?" Allow for interaction among students. Stress that nature's method for preserving dinosaur bones was copied and used as a model when they (students) created their own fossil pictures. Ask, "How might your fossil pictures be considered an historical record?" Encourage students to use their imaginations and look into the future when someone examines their fossil picture and develops a theory about it. Provide an opportunity for volunteers to role-play as they present a brief vignette of how they envision this scene playing out.

Locate or have a volunteer locate Egypt on the world wall map. Ask, "What do you know about the ancient history of Egypt?" Allow students to share their knowledge. Display a picture of an Egyptian pyramid in view of students; then ask, "Who will tell why the ancient Egyptians built pyramids?" Confirm they were built as monuments and burial places for royalty. Ask, "How have the pyramids proved valuable to understanding how ancient Egyptians lived?" Accept all responses as students are encouraged to share their knowledge about ancient Egypt. Say, "In ancient Egypt physicians, chemists and persons responsible for preparing bodies of the dead for burial, mimicked nature's process of preserving fossils when they developed their own process of mummification." Write mummy and mummification on chalk-board. Encourage students to discuss and tell the difference between the terms.

Say, "You are going to see a video that explains what mummies are and how bodies were prepared for mummification." To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch and be prepared to discuss mummification as a natural process."

Mummies Made in Egypt #509

Begin tape on visual of book's cover; audio is narrator reading the title. PAUSE tape immediately following description of mummification as a natural process. Engage students in discussion as they interact cooperatively while explaining mummification as a natural process. Say, "Because ancient Egyptians believed they would need things used during their life after their death, many articles were placed near the mummy in the burial site." To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch the video and be prepared to list articles that have been discovered in the burial sites." RESUME tape. STOP tape following descriptions of articles that have been found in burial sites, then provide time for students to name and describe them as they are listed on the chalkboard. Say, "Just as bones of dinosaurs and other fossils are studied to learn more about ancient animal and plant life, scientists study mummies to learn more about how people lived and health problems that may have caused death." To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch the video and look for methods used by scientists to study mummies."

Mummies #101

Begin tape on visual of the first guest; audio is, "I'd like to know how scientists study them." PAUSE tape on visual of the two men standing over the mummy; audio is, "I'd like to tell you what we can see from superficial inspection alone." Allow students to describe methods used by scientists to study mummies. Ask, "What type of information was the scientist searching for as various methods were used to study the preserved body?" (condition of health) Ask, "What is the value today for learning about health problems of people who may have lived hundreds of years ago?" Elicit discussion leading to conclusion that knowledge of diseases in the past often leads to a better understanding of diseases people have today and may help in discovering ways to treat or even cure them.

Explain scientists can often learn much through visual observation of the mummy. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "Watch and be ready to discuss those parts of a mummy that can reveal valuable information through a careful observation by scientists using nothing more than their eyes." RESUME tape. PAUSE tape on visual of the two men looking at the mummy; audio is, "I don't think so." List the men's observations on chalkboard as they are identified by students. Review the list as students are encouraged to tell why each observation could be of importance. Reinforce, "The scientists are attempting to learn more about how this person lived and what caused death. The only clues they have are found on the body and from articles included in the burial site." Ask students to recall why it was custom to include various items in the burial site. (Egyptians believed in life after death. Items left in the burial sites were believed to be needed in the new life they were entering.)

Ask, "What technology do you know of that is used today to take pictures inside a person's body?" Elicit x-ray. To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "As you watch the next video, look for other types of information acquired when x-rays are used to study the mummy." RESUME tape. PAUSE tape on visual of guest; audio is, "...or perhaps bone infections." Add to chalkboard list of observations as new ones made using x-rays are identified by students.

To give students a specific responsibility while viewing say, "As you watch the next video, look for additional observations we can add to the chalkboard list." FAST FORWARD to visual of the men observing the mummy's teeth; audio is, "What happens if you see something?" PAUSE tape on visual of guest holding an endoscope; audio is, "We could advance it into the chest cavity." Have students list additional observations as you add each to the chalkboard list. Inform the class that the machine which looked like a giant donut was taking additional internal pictures of the mummy's body.

Demonstrate using a large apple with an attached stem and a paring knife. Use the knife and slice away the top section of the apple; be careful to leave the stem intact. Display the slice showing hole in the center in one hand and the remainder of the apple with the attached stem in the opposite hand. After students have observed and described what the slice revealed, continue from top to bottom and remove an additional verticle slice from the apple. Encourage students to describe what is revealed about the interior of each slice as it is removed. Continue the process having students observe, then describe what they see after each slice is removed and as they internalize the progressive pictures of the apple's interior region. Explain: "Although the machine did not cut the mummy's body, it did take progressive pictures which revealed interior sections of the body in a way similar to the pieces of apple you described."

Write endoscope on chalkboard; explain it as a long tube with an attached camera. Say, "As the tube was inserted into the mummy's body, the endoscope provided pictures of the interior." Add this technique to the chalkboard list of ob-servation methods. Bring the introduction and development of new concepts to closure as you FAST FORWARD and begin tape on visual of both men standing over the body of the mummy; audio is, "Well, what could you tell?" STOP tape on visual of host gesticulating; audio is, "It was my pleasure." Review the chalkboard list of techniques used for observation.
Post-Viewing Activities
Display and instruct students to carefully observe an old photograph of ancestors. Encourage discussion of observations leading to conclusion that old photographs are a kind of record made in the past. Emphasize that old photographs provide important information about changes brought by time and also provide clues to how things were during the period the photograph was made.

Share an old high school or college yearbook with the students. Encourage students to compare hair styles, clothing, eye glasses, etc., with their modern counterparts. Use student comparisons to reinforce the objective that over time our environment, the things we recognize as modern and even ourselves undergo great change. Encourage students to describe things they have seen change in their lifetime.
Action Plan
Communicate with the Director of a local or nearby museum; request assistance from a staff person knowledgeable about archaeological displays they have, then plan a field trip. Establish an objective with students to become better informed about the historic significance of the area/state in which they reside.

Ask a parent or guardian to assist in identifying an old abandoned property in your community suitable for primary students to conduct an archaeological dig. Request permission of the owner for your class to visit the property for the in-tended purpose. Establish rules and pro-cedures to be followed with your class, then arrange a field trip and implement the plan. Use any artifacts found to develop theories about how the property was used in the distant past.
Provide an empty photo album and assign volunteers to organize and place the class photographs in the album. Have students develop an appropriate caption and include it for each photo. Display the album for the enjoyment of students and visitors to the classroom.

Have students design a sarcophagus or statue of themselves patterned after the rich designs and materials used to honor Egyptian mummies. The project could be as simple as a drawing or as elaborate as a paper mache' headpiece. Use the designs to create a display titled Hall of the Nobility.

Language Arts
Conduct a study of rebuses as a parallel to hieroglyphics. Provide appropriate materials and have students design a rebus which describes their life and interests. Allow students to design a bulletin board for displaying the rebuses.

Social Studies
Plan with students to design and develop a class time capsule to be stored and sealed. The seal should not be broken prior to a pre-determined date near the end of the students' last year in your building. Discuss appropriate items for the capsule, then collect and place those approved through student consensus inside. Note the date decided for opening the capsule. Ask cooperation of the school's administrator and other appropriate teachers. On the appropriate future date, assemble students who were members of the "old class;" then, open the capsule. Allow students to examine the items and reflect on changes that have taken place since the time capsule was sealed.

Top of lesson

Lesson Plan Database
Thirteen Ed Online