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Breathing Life into Ancient Civilizations through "A Night at the Museum"

Students discuss ancient civilizations
Student presentation
Students working together
Students dressed in costume

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School: Boynton Middle School

Class: English, Social Studies

Grade: 6 - Earth Team

Subjects: English, Social Studies

Project: Students from Boynton's Earth Team engaged in bringing ancient history to life through a project that emphasizes understanding perspectives and working with evidence to deeply understand ancient civilizations. This project ignites student's imagination by inviting them to imagine how they would tell the story of the life of an inhabitant from an ancient river valley civilization. To do so, students examined archaeological and historical evidence, completed field research at Cornell's Johnson Art Museum, visited with a local archaeologist from Cornell, in addition to exploring various digital and print media. Students first worked to understand the defining characteristics of either Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient India, or Ancient China. Equipped with this new knowledge, they compared and contrasted characteristics of these complex societies and civilizations. There is a strong emphasis in this unit on critical thinking and developing students' skills of analysis, reflection, and collaboration. Each student worked to craft a monologue from their character's perspective that demonstrates the relationship between people, places, and their environment. What emerges from this project is a culminating community celebration of learning in the form of dramatic presentations of the unique cultural achievements and contributions from each of these civilizations. Click here to view photos from the celebration!

Standards: Many New York State Social Studies, Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening Standards

Experts/Local Connections: Carol Hockett, Cornell's Johnson Art Museum and Jen Carrington, Local Anthropologist

Fieldwork: Cornell's Johnson Art Museum