Storm Lake third and fourth grade students had the opportunity to step back in time last week thanks to a presentation and hands-on activities provided by three members from the University of Iowa office of state archaeology.
Storm Lake was only one of two communities chosen to take part in the programs entitled, "Ancient Indians in Your Backyard," and "Indian Life in Ice Age Iowa."
The visit was partically funded by a Humanities Iowa Grant.
Storm Lake was chosen because of its geographical area as well as its diverse population.
The students had the chance to paint using art materials similar to those used by the ancient Native Americans - including crushed charred wood and animal fat (Crisco was substituted).
Archaeologist Sara Horgen helped the students make their own "cave paintings" and then students created their own "cave mural" using their hand prints. One student wondered when this style of paint was replaced by colorful markers!
Students also pretended they were at an excavation site and examined several artifacts to determine age and catalogue them.
Handling such items as a real mammoth's tooth is something they most likely will always remember. The students also learned about ancient hunting techniques and had the chance to launch a spear using an "atlatl."
"We like getting the kids involved so they can imagine life like it was and appreciate the way they lived," said Stephen Lensink, interim director of the state's archaeology office. "This gives them the chance to learn about something they don't know and learn what an archaeologist's job is."
Students were amazed to learn of the animals that roamed Iowa in the ice age - 12-foot sloths, bears, saber-tooth tigers and mammoths.