History - This Week. The History Mystery Lab Activity! - SLO Classical Academy
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Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

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History – This Week. The History Mystery Lab Activity!

Happy Monday! Today we continue with our series History – This Week, with a little twist from Sarah Shotwell. The History Mystery Lab Activity is designed to facilitate some interesting discussions at home on our current History period – The Ancients  – as we travel through time together. Grab a coffee or tea and get ready to gather round for some interesting conversation!

At the History Experience last week, we explored why the work of archeologists and historians is so important to our understanding of the Ancient World! While there are many beliefs about what happened in the past, when historians make claims, they’re bound by the methods and ethics of the discipline. There are certain protocols that must be followed when researching and writing about past events. In this way, history is less like literature, theater, philosophy, and the other humanities subjects, and a bit more like law or forensic science. (A reason why history majors often make good lawyers!) But what do historians actually do?


Will you and your kids join me in a little thought experiment?


Imagine you are on a road trip with your family, driving through the desert, and you lose phone reception. Without a map, you take a wrong turn down a road, and find yourself lost. Soon, you come across a town. Hoping to find someone who can give you directions, you park and look around. But no one is here. You quickly realize you have found yourself in a ghost town! There are old, broken down western buildings. There’s a graveyard near a dilapidated church. There’s an old saloon with broken glass on the floor, but the whiskey bottles are all gone. There’s a dance hall. A school. A general store. An old church. You walk through a home. Many belongings are there — cracked dishes, broken down old furniture, and lots of dust. Outside, there are bones in the yard. (Animals, you hope!) You notice that there is the entrance to a mine cut out of a nearby hillside. You peek in. It’s dirty and cool, and there are spider webs everywhere. An old busted rail track goes deep into the mine. You walk a bit further, thinking you’ve reached the edge of town. But you see that you were mistaken: ahead of you are the stone foundations of hundreds of buildings scattered throughout the desert. The foundations are charred and black.

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Now, think like a detective.


If you came across a place like this, what questions would you ask? Brainstorm together. Make a list of all your questions. Then, make an inventory of evidence. What details stick out to you as compelling? What more do you need to know? Where would you look for answers? Who would you talk to?


Just for fun, you could also come up with several divergent theories to investigate based on the details you know. Try not to leap at any one explanation, though. Come up with as many as you can. We want to analyze this from all angles and leave room for every possibility! Remember: the evidence will be our guide.


This is the kind of work historians get to do in real life. Pretty fun, no?


So, what is this place? What happened there? We’d love to hear your questions, ideas, and theories in the comments below!

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