Explore Chucalissa :: Creating and Reconstructing Pottery

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The crafts, projects, and lessons in this article are meant to introduce a variety of topics in archaeology and history by incorporating Native American culture. This specific article is recommended for kids age 9-11 (approximately 3rd and 4th grade). Students can learn more about the site of Chucalissa during a field trip or family visit.

What is pottery?

Do you know a potter?

Have you ever squished clay in between your fingers or maybe scooped clay from a riverbed? What even is the difference between clay and good ‘ol dirt?

Are you homeschooling? Are your kids just into Native American cultures and customs? Is your family intrigued by the Indian history we have right here in the Mid-South? Then look no further!

Let’s learn about Native American pottery! The educational focus is the difficulties archaeologists face when reconstructing artifacts. (For this craft and others like it, visit Chucalissa’s Teacher Resource page, linked here.)

 

1. Study the History of Pottery and Different Pottery Styles

2. Follow up discussion questions

  • How do archaeologists gain information about past peoples?
    Archaeologists excavate sites and gather artifacts.
  • What are some common artifacts found at Native American sites?
    Archaeologists find projectile points such as arrowheads, parts of weapons, stone tools, and pottery.
  • What might be some challenges archaeologists face when reconstructing artifacts?
    Because the artifacts that archaeologists excavate are very old, sometimes they are unable to reconstruct an entire object. In addition, piecing together a broken object can be much like putting together a puzzle without a picture.

 

3. Deconstruct then Reconstruct
(perfect for a rainy day at-home craft or a small homeschool class activity)

1. Have children use colored pencils or crayons to decorate their pottery!

Click here for a printable!

2. Then, cut out the pottery and then tear/cut it into approximately 1-inch pieces. Each group (or family member) should mix their pieces together into one big pile.

3. Instruct groups to trade their “pottery sherds” with another group. Ask them to reconstruct their piece by gluing them onto construction paper.

 

4. Try Creating Pottery

Check out some modern-day potters and their Instagram accounts. Many show videos on how to hand-build mugs, bowls, and vases or how to throw on a wheel:

Erica Bodine Pottery

Silver Maple Ceramics

Doc Pottery 901

Brukie Studio

If you or your kids would like to try either of these methods, we highly recommend booking a class or summer camp through Belltower Coffeehouse and Pottery Studio!

 

chucalissa ad including a piece of potteryWe hope this article will help you bring the spirit of the museum (and site) to your homeschool group or home learning time. Your children can also learn more about the specific site of Chucalissa through a field trip or classroom visit.

We encourage you to book a private tour by contacting chucalissa@memphis.edu or by calling 901-785-3160.

Click here to learn more about what to expect during a visit.

 

Click here for a lesson plan appropriate for 1st & 2nd graders.

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