Parents Night and the Final Day at Arcadia

Last day of Anthropology is Elementary 2015

IMG_2890 IMG_2896 IMG_7071 IMG_7070

We did not have an official lesson for the last day. Instead, we had an overview of the semester and discussed key aspects of anthropology learned.

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.30.57 PM

Click to see details

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.16.55 PM

Click to see details

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.19.24 PM

Click to see details

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.19.38 PM

Click to see details

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.19.57 PM

Click to see details

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.24.57 PM

Click to see details

Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.25.32 PM

Click to see details

 Screen Shot 2015-11-21 at 10.25.56 PM

Click to see details

Ending thoughts

Thank you to the parents, faculty, and students at Arcadia Elementary. We had an amazing time.

This semester entailed weekly 45 minute sessions with rotating lesson plans that focused on a specific aspect of anthropology: cultural, linguistics, physical, and archaeology.

The program combined lecture based learning and lab setting activities to facilitate retention of material.

The semester was overseen by my professor and another PhD student, but individual lectures were designed and taught by myself (a graduate student enrolled in a class focusing on developing detailed lesson plans, plan creative academic exercises, and see plan to completion).

The program was designed to expand children’s worldview, therefore lessons were adapted to couple anthropological aspects of Alabama with international culture that the students likely have no prior knowledge of. This year we focused on West Africa.

Parents Night


For parents that requested the recipes:

FullSizeRender-2 FullSizeRender-1FullSizeRender

Body Adornment at Arcadia

Week 9: Body Adornment


Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 8.42.03 PMBody Adornment is “Decorating your body to show your social status, to express your individuality, as a rite of passage, or to chow your membership to a group like a clan or community.”

There are many different forms of body adornment. Body adornment is what you wear or how you cut and style your hair. It is also piercing your body, or tattooing your body or doing body paint.

All forms of body adornment aim to make the wearer look more attractive, show individuality, and represent status.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 8.42.12 PMHair:

The people of West Africa often intricately braid their hair. In other cultures, covering your hair shows respect for  the wearer’s religion. In our culture, dying your hair is a fun way to express your individuality. In many cultures cutting your hair is an important ritual.

Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 8.42.19 PM


In Africa some women add discs to their lower lips, because it is considered beautiful in their culture. In India women wear elaborate pierces with tassels and jewels attached. Here in America we tend to pierce our ears.Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 8.42.37 PM


People all over the world tattoo their bodies and they mean different things to every culture. The oldest forms of tattooing come from the pacific islands, called Maori tattoos. These tattoos are status symbols. People with more money and power have more tattoos. Both men and women get tattoos. They are also seen as a sign of strength because they are done by inserting dye into the skin by hammering a sharpened stick into the skin to create the design. They are typically spirals that cover large portions of the face and body. Similarly, in West Africa tattoos are done to show status and are one the face and hands. Tattoos in America were traditionally for sailors or prison inmates, but today they are another fun way to express your individuality and unique character.Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 8.42.27 PM

Body Art:

Body art or body paint is another form of body adornment. It is not permanent and is done in most cultures at special times of celebration. In West Africa, men wear body paint in ritualistic settings and prior to war. In America, women wear make-up on a regular basis to enhance their natural beauty.


Clans designed tattoos that symbolized importance in their culture, rites of passage, or individuality. Next, tattoos were pained on to students faces.

  Screen Shot 2015-11-13 at 9.14.50 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-13 at 9.15.00 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-13 at 9.15.08 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-13 at 9.15.16 PM

Ending Thoughts:

Students absolutely loved this activity! They were enthralled, entertained, and had great discussions about what each symbol meant. As this was our last lecture, I wanted to leave the students with a fun activity they would remember all year.

Anthropology and Museums – TMSE

By Megan Crawford

This week at Tuscaloosa Magnet School Elementary, I taught the kids a lesson on museums. My main goal was to emphasize the role that museums play in relation to anthropology, particularly, the preservation of artifacts and their ability to be displayed for public consumption.

We began with a brief review of last week’s lesson on archaeology. I began my lesson by first explaining that museums were not just for anthropology and that they could house art, fossils, books, and so many other things. I explained that museums were organized in exhibits and that the creation of these exhibits were the jobs of the curators. I asked the students what questions a curator might ask if they were trying to create their own exhibit. I got answers such as “How was it used?”, “Where was it used?” and “Who used it?”


Going off of their energy in answering this question, I explained the follow-up activity. In last week’s archaeology activity, the students were each given a midden of modern-day garbage to examine. They examined the garbage and determined the “story” of the garbage and made conclusions about the items in their respective middens. This week the activity was to use the garbage from last time and create an exhibit that would tell the “story” of that assemblage. Each clan would receive one large office supply box in which to create their exhibit and a plethora of colored paper, glue, tape, and other craft supplies. They were tasked with naming their exhibit and displaying all of their items to tell the “story.” They were also given the incentive that their exhibits would be displayed on Parent’s Day at the end of the semester just like in a real museum.

New Microsoft PowerPoint Presentation

I dismissed them to start their work and they all hurriedly went to their clans. An uproar burst through the classroom as the students tried to decide what to name their exhibits and how they should be set up. All disagreements were quickly worked out by the clan teachers and the kids began to build their exhibits. Each clan approached the project a little differently, but eventually all of the groups were able to build interesting, unique exhibits that displayed their artifacts in an interesting way.

As the class came to a close, the students were so excited and proud of their work, and I was proud of them and the awesome exhibits they made.

                 The Caterzilla Lightening Bolts


                    The Bug Catchers of Zathura


                      Clan of Zeus

Culture and Clans – TMSE

WEEK 1: Cultures and Clans

By Annakate Faulk

Last week we started our outreach program at the Tuscaloosa Magnet School. This semester I and fellow UA students are working with an awesome group of third grade students whom we will be teaching about the anthropology of West Africa. Our first day went great! We were welcomed to the school by all of the students who had assembled in the gymnasium, I was definitely surprised by how many different outreach groups there were involved with the program. Once each of the outreach classes were dismissed we moved into our home for the semester, Mr. Little’s classroom. Each of the students had the opportunity to tell us why they had chosen to take the anthropology course, with the majority response being “because we get to eat bugs!” I do have to admit, I was glad to see the students so excited about this, because I was a little bit nervous.

The topic for this past week’s lesson was clans and their respective cultures. A clan is a group of individuals who identify with one another based on a commonly shared ancestor. As well as sharing this common ancestor, members of a clan follow a generalized set of customs and rules which are designated by their shared culture.

Once I had explained what these things were to the class, we broke up the students into groups of three and four which would become their clans. Each clan also included one or two members who were fellow anthropology students from UA.


The students were then able to make some of the important choices regarding their clans such as their name, the ancestor which they all shared and things such as whether or not they would have a set leader or choose to be an egalitarian group.


Each of the groups seemed to really enjoy the process of making these decisions and after a little bit of guidance from the UA students the choices were made with ease {mostly}.

There were a few bumps in the road, I will admit, but they were to be expected on our first day with these students. Our class split into three separate clans, two who chose to elect a leader and with the remaining group deciding to remain as equals.

Overall, even with the few stumbles and difficulties I think that this first week’s lesson went extremely well. Each UA student did an excellent job within their clans and were able to remain approachable to the students while also maintaining the demeanor of a successful supervisor and instructor by answering any questions the students had and keeping the student’s initial decision making a productive and streamlined process.


Lesson Plans from the UA Partnership

Hello everybody,

The next several posts will include the lesson plans we used for the UA partnership with the Tuscaloosa Magnet School. This semester the classes were taught by Taylor Burbach, Meghan Steel, and Erica Schumann, with the direction of graduate student Greg Batchelder. Enjoy!

Week 1: Anthropology and Social OrganizationWP_20140916_001

Activity: Creating a Clan


    1. Prepare to give a brief introduction about yourself

Discussion: Anthropology, culture, and our shared culture

    1. Access prior knowledge about anthropology
      1. What is anthropology? What do anthropologists do?
      2. Why is anthropology important?
      3. Four fields of anthropology
    2. What is culture?
      1. Do we share culture?
      2. Do we belong to social units that are larger than our immediate families?
      3. What aspects of our culture are shared?
      4. TMSE culture? Alabama culture? American culture? Etc.
      5. Ask students to analyze the culture of their school.

Independent practice: Creating a Clan Activity

Students will create a clan and define aspects that define the culture of their clan

    1. Goals:
      1. Create the culture of their clan. Identify what is important to the clan. Determine what sets their group apart from neighboring groups (music, secret handshake, language, attire, beliefs)
      2. emphasize terminology:

Culture: shared knowledge that governs the way that we behave and provides the rules for how we live.

Clan: a group of people who share a common ancestor, real or mythical

Totem: a being, object, or symbols representing an animal or plant that serves as an       emblem of a group of people

Rite of passage: an event that marks a change from one stage in life to another

Symbol: object that represents, stands for, or suggests an idea, visual image, belief, or action.

    1. Materials:
      1. Boxes- washable markers, crayons, pencils, glue sticks, school scissors, tape
      2. Poster board for totems/symbols
      3. Paper for attire
      4. Feathers


Final Comments:

Review points of discussion and terms.

What is anthropology? What is culture?

Is culture shared?

Do we automatically understand someone else’s culture?