So, summer is winding down, and you are wondering what could possibly be left to inspire and interest your elementary aged child, whose cries of, “I’m booooooored!” are about to drive you around the bend.
You’ve already smiled and said, “It’s good for your brain to be bored sometimes” because you’ve read the research, and you know that lots of psychologists and children’s experts recommend that children have periods of boredom. (An inexhaustive set of examples: http://qz.com/704723/to-be-more-self-reliant-children-need-boring-summers/ , http://www.bbc.com/news/education-21895704 , http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-vanessa-lapointe/why-you-should-do-nothing_b_9818144.html .)
Not only that, you planned and scheduled and gave them activities for a large portion of the summer! The pool has gotten old. You’ve been to the St. Louis Science Center and the St. Louis Zoo and the St. Louis Art Museum and the Missouri Botanical Gardens. You’ve done all the library summer reading programs (but have you submitted your family’s list of summer reads to Meg –firstname.lastname@example.org? There’s still time!) You’ve been to the matinee and to your neighborhood’s evening movie showings at the park. You’ve taken them to summer camps. You’ve baked, gardened and made popsicles together. The lemonade stand? Done. You may even have taken them on a vacation. And, there’s been screen time, a little more than you wanted, to be honest, and they’re even bored with that by now.
What to do?
I have, as they say, an idea.
Have you ever been to Cahokia Mounds? It is the amazing center of the prehistoric Mississippian culture. It is the nearest Unesco World Heritage site to us (here’s a list of US UNESCO World Heritage Sites: http://www.state.gov/p/io/unesco/c48319.htm), right across the border in Illinois. And, Cahokia Mounds is wonderful.
In 1250, at its height, Cahokia was a city larger than London at the same time. It had a population of between 10 and 20 thousand people. The Mississippian culture that resided at Cahokia was a mound building culture that built enormous earthworks, including Monks Mound, the largest earthen mound on the North American continent! Standing at the top of Monks Mound and looking back toward the Arch in St. Louis on a clear day is a view not to be missed. (Is this why St. Louis has had the nickname Mound City?) There’s more. Did you know that every year Cahokia has an archaeology day? I have been many times and have occasionally taken students with me, and they have always enjoyed it. In addition to all the normal attractions of the museum, on archaeology day there’s much more to experience! There’s flintknapping, ancient artifact washing and animal skeleton identification. You can watch a dig in progress and sift dirt mounds for bones and sherds (fragments of pottery). You can use an atlatl (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spear-thrower) to throw a spear at a deer cutout. You can play chunkey (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chunkey), which perhaps originated in Cahokia but was widely played throughout North America. (Statue of a chunkey player) Archaeology Day at Cahokia is August 6, from 10:00 AM – 4 PM. Here’s the details, from the flyer I just got in the mail!
One last enthralling, educational adventure for the summer!
What do you say?
Are you up for it?
Give your children a chance to imagine what it would have been like to live here a thousand years ago!
The link to Cahokia Mounds. http://cahokiamounds.org/