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Higgs, Peter L., and Shannon McNeal. “Examining a Culture from Museum Artifacts.” Social Studies and the Young Learner 18(4) (2006): 27-30.


Children can learn a lot about social studies by "reconstructing a culture" in the classroom. To reconstruct a culture, students can make use of prior knowledge to build a hierarchy of concepts about culture as well as learn social science subject knowledge appropriate to their grade level. In addition, they can have the tactile experiences of handling cultural artifacts, and learn to use higher order thinking skills to compare aspects of ancient cultures with those of today. In this context, fifth grade students at Morey Charter School in Shepherd, Michigan, had the opportunity to use museum artifacts and primary historical material to reconstruct an ancient North American culture. Morey was chosen because it had a diverse student population: a number of its students were members of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe. The Tribe's headquarters is located in nearby Mt. Pleasant. The study of Chippewa culture was particularly valuable to students in the context of Michigan and United States history. This article describes how the students learned the attributes of Chippewa culture in an anthropological sense by analyzing artifacts and primary historical resources.