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Nerdfest 2015 Day Two: Art, Artifacts, and World History

And we just keep on rolling. Daniella Green from the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School is rocking this session on using art and artifacts to teach World History.

Why use art and artifacts?

Art and artifacts can help reveal a civilization’s culture because these things come from all levels – economic, educational, cultural., political – of that society. Daniella says we don’t need to live near a museum to do this so a few ideas of what this can look like.

She usually starts with Mesopotamia and has kids explore artifacts that she finds online. Her basic lesson structure with artifacts have students write brief summaries (like the labels found on artifacts in a museum) and create a replica of one artifact of their choice.

She starts by having kids “source” an artifact:

Working Title/Artist: Standing male worshipperDepartment: Ancient Near EastCulture/Period/Location: South, Early Dynastic II, Sumerian styleHB/TOA Date Code: 02Working Date: 2750-2600 B.C. photography by mma, Digital File "DT850_box_rgb.tif" retouched by film and media (phc & jnc) 1_25_11

  • describe the artifact in detail
  • what do you think the artifact was used for and why?
  • what can you infer about mei culture from this object?

Then share more info about the statue, some of which you can find at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. You can find tons of stuff at the Met – be sure to check out their teaching goodies. You can also find some useful stuff at the British Museum. (By the way, Google and the BM are making it easier to access online artifacts. You’ll probably also love the Museum’s very cool A History of the World in 100 Objects.) She also likes the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.

Daniella shared how these sorts of activities can be aligned with ELA Literacy Standards. So about this writing prompt?

How can museums, governments, and NGOs work together to prevent ISIS and other terrorist groups from destroying ancient historical artifacts and sites?

Or this one:

How should we respond to those who are concerned about artifacts that were looted by western countries between 1700 – 2000, now displayed in museums around the world?

Love it. Perfect ways to connect to Dimension 4 of the C3 Framework asking kids to take informed action.

You might also find these resources helpful as you plan lessons that integrate art and artifacts:

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Sounds like an excellent workshop Glen. This is only the second or third NCSS annual that I’ve missed since the late nineties; looking forward to your reports from the “nerdfest.”

    November 13, 2015
    • glennw #


      You must be going through some serious withdrawal! The conference is not the same without your pre-con sessions. A good day so far. I am now in the House of Delegates meeting so . . . things will be slowing down in the fun column a bit.


      November 13, 2015
  2. Jeremy Greene #

    Here is a collection of articles on art, including yours truly:

    November 14, 2015
    • glennw #


      Thanks for extra goodies. Appreciate it!


      November 14, 2015

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