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Activity Ideas

Festival 2013 Mesolithic Day

If you’re looking for ways to inspire your YAC members, you’ve come to the right place!

From Historic Poo to Making String from Nettles, you’ll find a whole host of activity ideas to educate and entertain. Some of these ideas have been developed by YAC HQ, and some by our fantastic Branches and other partners.

At the moment our activity ideas are listed in alphabetical order but in future we hope to present them in a more searchable form.

Don’t worry if you’re not a YAC Branch volunteer, you can still download any activities which take your fancy. If you would like to make a small donation towards the Young Archaeologists’ Club it would be very much appreciated, thank you.

If you’d like to share an activity please email the details to YAC HQ. Also, if you try out any of our activity ideas we’d love to hear your thoughts!

Activity Ideas

Please find below an A-Z list of archaeological activities:

Archaeological iSpy
Taken from the final printed issue of Young Archaeologist, this iSpy challenge encourages Young Archaeologists of all ages(!) to get out and spot all sorts of archaeology in their neighbourhood.
Are Trees Archaeology?
A suite of activities and information for use with your Branch all about the archaeology of woodlands and trees. Created by Rob Hedge for the 2014 YAC Leaders’ Weekend.
Become a Roman Archaeologist for 1 Hour: Creative Minds
Children pretend to be archaeologists and take part in a mini-dig to uncover Roman pottery to see what it can tell us about the Romans.
Bobbin winding
Investigate how to make decorative cords with bobbin winding, a technique which has been used for many thousands of years
Build a Castle: Edinburgh Branch
Explore Medieval castle designs by constructing castles using air drying clay
Cave Painting: Runnymede Branch
Using red and black crayons or pastels, create cave art
Celtic Art: Yorkshire Dales Branch
Create and decorate Celtic or Iron Age pots using modelling clay
Church and Graveyard Session Package
A range of activities specially designed to explore the methods and techniques used in researching, exploring and surveying churches and graveyards
Displaying Collections: Bath and Bristol Branch
Working with personal collections from home (i.e. Scout Badges, Dr Who Cards, Fashion) the Young Archaeologists can work through the process of displaying a collection
Extract salt from (fake) urine!
Salt has been used for cooking and preserving food in the days before fridges and freezers! Salt came from different sources: the sea was the main one, but it could also be mined, or extracted from urine
Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphic Template
Learn to write like an ancient Egyptian
Fabulous Finds 1: Observation Activity
Test your attention to detail in this archaeological observation activity
Fabulous Finds 2: Drawing and Photographing Objects
Discover how archaeologists draw and photograph archaeological features
Fabulous Finds 3: Drawing Pottery
A step by step guide on how to draw pottery
Fabulous Finds 4: Scale Bars
This activity explains the importance of scale when recording archaeological finds
Fabulous Finds 5: The Rim Chart
An activity exploring how to measure the diameter of pottery
Fabulous Finds 6: Recording Sheet
A template for recording artefacts
Getting Dressed (Creative Minds)
This activity has been designed for creating a Greek-style peplos using sheets and pins, but can be adapted for your Young Archaeologists to create a Roman toga.
Greek Pots: Runnymede Branch
Painting pots in Grecian styles
Greek Writing (Creative Minds)
In this activity you can learn the Greek alphabet and decipher some words written in Greek
Historic Poo
In this activity you will find out how archaeologists discover what people in the past ate.
Indoor Excavation: Lancaster Branch
Utilising mock features, context sheets and artefacts, Young Archaeologists can explore context and stratigraphy with an Indoor Excavation.
Industry and woodlands
Explore how wood was used in historic industries.
Investigating Historic Buildings 1
Why should we investigate historic buildings?
Investigating Historic Buildings 2
How to look at and interpret the outside of a building
Investigating Historic Buildings 3
How to look at and interpret the inside of a building
Investigating Historic Buildings 4
Looking at building materials and techniques
Investigating Historic Buildings 5
How to draw and record buildings
List of Herbs
A list of herbs including name, description, origin and use
Macrofossils: Belfast
After briefly discussing macro-fossils in archaeology e.g. date wheat first found/used, how processed, what used for etc; a mock-trench comprised: sand and bird seed, Young Archaeologists can explore sieving and identifying macro-fossils. Additionally using a pestle & mortar and quern stone, they can have a go at grinding seed to grain.
Make your own dyes (1)
Have a go a dyeing some fabric using different natural dyes
Make your own dyes (2)
This activity introduces the children to some basic dye stuffs and encourages them to think about how dying would have been done on a larger scale
Make an Egyptian Shabti & Papyrus Bookmark: Lancaster Branch
Have a go at making your very own Ancient Egyptian Shabti & Papyrus Bookmark
Make a human loom
Investigate how fabric was made in the ancient world up until very recently
Make panpipes
Make panpipes out of hose pipe and a ball of nylon string
Make a Roman bulla
Explore how to make a Roman Bulla, a small woollen bag that the Romans used to keep charms in for good luck
Make a Roman sandal
The production of shoes and footwear has been an important industry over time. This activity provides Young Archaeologists the opportunity to make a Roman sandal.

Make an Iron Age Round House! :Making a mini-Roundhouse with provide Branch Members with a better understanding of the different steps and materials used to build a Roundhouse.

Make a shawm
Make a medieval or renaissance wind instrument using plastic drinking straws; hose-pipe; and a cardboard cone, or end of a plastic bottle
Making string from Nettles
Instructions on how to make string from nettles

Make a Viking Braid, Fill Gap Braid or Trollen Weave :This activity gives young archaeologists the opportunity to have a go at Braid making.

Mapping Bridgend Branch
The aim of this activity is to get the children to find and locate the various archaeological sites of different periods on regional maps.
Medieval Cures Role Play
Become a medieval doctor for the day to investigate and attempt to cure these gruesome illnesses
Mediterranean Island Archaeology: North Hampshire Branch
This activity explores the remarkable archaeology on the Mediterranean Islands, such as Malta, Crete, Sicily, and Cyprus. Each island can be dealt with in a different session
Mesolithic fish traps
A crafty way to explore Mesolithic fishing
Mesolithic Sweets: Norwich Branch
Make Hawthorn Leather, or Mesolithic Sweets; recipe from the Ray Mears programme about wild food in the Mesolithic
Mesolithic Wild Food Walk: Norwich Branch
Explore the woods looking for wild foods which Hunter Gatherers might have collected. Activity best in late-summer/early-autumn
Middle Age Spread: Spelthorne Branch
This activity formed a cores structure for 5 meetings working towards a display for Spelthorne Museum but it could be adapted.
Mini Dig: Kirklees Branch
Using a plastic trough, soil and plant materials, Branch Leaders can create a mini- dig for their group members to excavate and record.
Mummifying Oranges: Manchester Branch
Explore the Egyptian burial practice of mummification by mummifying oranges
Photographing Artefacts: Oxfordshire Branch
This activity explores the process of photographing and documenting artefacts
Pin board weaving
explore weaving using a thin piece of plywood and coloured wool or thread
Roman Dining: Canterbury Branch
Cook and eat a Roman Feast using Roman menus and recipes and decorate a Roman Dining Room with hand-made Mosaic panels made by the Branch members; cushions; replica and real Roman artefacts for your meal
Rot or Not?
These activities allow children to discover what items decompose and what items archaeologists find on digs
A popular ancient Egyptian game which features on many tomb walls.
Shoe Making: Sussex Weald
Learn how cobblers of the past made shoes

Site Worksheet: A site worksheet designed to use at a building

The Snake Game - Mehen
Mehen was played in Egypt over 5000 years ago, have a go and make your own Mehen board!
Stone Age Pigment: Orkney Branch
Create stone pigment and use for cave art
Street Furniture: St Albans Branch
Explore the development of villages and town by looking at and dating different types of post boxes, street signs, lampposts
Tussy Mussy!
Create your own Tussy Mussy to protect yourself from medieval illness
Using Prehistoric Clay: Kirklees Branch
Have a go at making your very own Prehistoric Pot
War Memorials
A series of activities to help your Branch investigate a local war memorial
Winter Celebrations: Central London Branch
Various activities such as, looking at pre-historic artefacts; creating a loo-roll timeline; and Hunting, Fishing and Gathering Games
Woad Banners: Fenland Branch
Design a Celtic Woad Banner!
World War II Shelter
Create and Interpret a World War II Anderson Shelter
Writing through the ages 1
A selection of activities exploring the technology of writing, including how to make a quil pen, write in secret messages and paper making!
Writing through the ages 2
Exploring the Writing of the Picts and Romans
Writing through the ages 3
Ancient Greek, Egyptian Hieroglyphs and Cuneiform Text
Yorkshire Henge’s Booklet
A comprehensive guide to the prehistoric monuments in the A1 corridor spanning thousands of years! Packed full of information, colourful photos, things to do and games