VISIT TWO: "WHO AM I?"
The partnerships second visit explored two separate elements of the pre-learning needed in advance for our culminating "Big Dig".
At the end of our last session, we had asked the children to think about what objects they had in their rooms at home that would "show and tell" someone, what they looked like, the things they liked to do at school, what games they liked to play, etc. Then to place those objects (5) in a bag that showed "who they were" in their earliest/younger years, and then (5) objects that would "help us to learn" who they were now— in the present time.
We had arranged for clear plastic gallon milk jugs to be saved over the last few months, and the partnership pre-cut the tops and layered differing soils, sands, and rock-like gravel (kitty litter) into the jugs.
We then placed the each child's collected objects into the differing layers—placing the earliest years objects into the bottom of the jug, and working up the years (middle of jug) into the present/time layer (at the top of the jug). The intended goal was to simulate the actual digging conditions they would encounter and excavate in the soil at the Town Hall. The objects that would be found in the top layer would be the "newest" finds and as they dug down they would be finding the "older things".
To add some excitement, we also made it into a detective styled activity. Only the partnership knew who belonged to each milk jug time capsule. So— in fact, the children "excavated" a mystery classmate from each class. We then asked, based on what they found, to answer the question, "Who am I?" and "given the object clues" name the mystery classmate. This was a successful tool to show how objects can tell us information. Also, where the objects are found— helps to "round out" and create a time chronology for the person, their environment and their story.
Lastly, we had a fine-motor activity that had the children trying out their trowels. Using the large sand table we had the children practice using the trowel to pull away the dirt and sand. Most children started by using the point downwards, which we explained would shatter or harm objects, and we showed them how to use the side of the trowels to gently pull the earth towards them. We encouraged them to be aware that while its thrilling to make discoveries— be patient: take your time, observe the soil and its changes, and look to identify what objects may lay next to each other. Look at the big picture and see what it is trying to tell you.