Lesson: Artifacts

Lesson: Artifacts


Students will understand what an artifact is and bring in one to share with the class and tell the related family story.


  • Family artifact that teacher brings in to illustrate a story from his/her own family
  • Artifact worksheet












The teacher will bring in an artifact and share a family story from his/her past. In our pilot, Mrs. Baker brought in a photograph showing a car crash that her grandfather had been involved in during Prohibition times. After students all had a chance to look at the photo, she asked them to share their ideas on what might have happened, and then she told them the story.


  1. After sharing your own artifact and discussing the related family story with the students, give them each a copy of the artifact worksheet. Go through each question, and with the students, complete the worksheet for the artifact you, the teacher, brought in.
  2. Explain that they will take a blank artifact worksheet home with them, and discuss with the family what artifact and family story they could bring in to share with the class.
  3. Tell them they may need their family’s help to answer some of the questions on the worksheet, and that they will definitely need to get permission to bring the artifact in.
  4. When students bring in their artifact, give them time to share the story, and photograph/video each student with their artifact.


  • Assign a writing activity with students telling the family story from the artifact’s point of view.
  • Graph the artifacts students brought in by category. Do families tend to keep more of one kind of artifact than others? Why?
  • Sometimes after a fire, flood or other natural disaster, we read that the family involved was thrilled to find family artifact that was not destroyed. What would be the artifact you would want to be saved? If you lost all your belongings, and only one ordinary thing was saved—let’s say it was just a stub of a pencil—would it suddenly become very valuable to you?
  • Ask the students if they have ever found something while digging in the dirt. Usually what people find in the dirt are things that have been discarded by others in times past—old bottles, nails, tin cans, broken toys and dishes. It was usually considered junk. But, if you find one of these, you may think it is a treasured artifact of times past.  Discuss.
  • Display all the artifacts along with the worksheets in a “Museum for a Day” or at the culminating sharing program at the end of the unit.


Refer to the Booklist for stories inspired by artifacts.