Artifact Detectives

Click here to read an article that ran in the Camas Post-Record on October 29, 2013 on the Artifact Detectives program.

“This is the best day of my life” and “I love school”. Are a couple of comments from a Burton Elementary 5th grade class. They had borrowed our Artifact Detectives kit. In 2008, the Clark County Historical Museum, Vancouver, Wa., launched an initiative to pair two Clark County teachers with a professional archaeologist on a special project to develop classroom education materials and prototype educational kits for grade 4-12 students. This is an ongoing project–see below for more information on the teachers participating in the program this year.

The project relates to southwest Washington’s regional history between 1870 and 1920 and features non-culturally sensitive and historic materials that were excavated during the construction of the Vancouver Convention Center and Hilton Hotel, which opened in 2005. Excavated items include china, buttons, toys and other examples of late 19th and early 20th century everyday life.

Special permission was granted by the Washington State Archaeologist, Rob Whitlam, to utilize a portion of the collection for educational purposes. A large part of the collection has been curated and is archived at the CCHM for future comparative research.

The teachers selected to work on the project in its inaugural year were Janet Dondelinger, of Pioneer Elementary School in the Evergreen School District, and S. Tyler Morgan, of Camas High School in the Camas School District. Jessica Hale, of Applied Archaeological Research, Inc., Portland, was the project archaeologist. Susan M. G. Tissot, executive director of CCHM, was the project director.

The first year of the project was funded by a $10,000 Certified Local Government grant from the Washington Department of Archaeology and Historic Preservation. The museum completed the project working in partnership with Clark County and local schools. The education materials were tested in the classroom. The Evergreen School District’s YES TV documented archaeologist Jessica Hale’s visit to Janet Dondelinger’s 4th grade classroom. Click here to see the footage on YouTube.

Artifact Detectives Program Continues via a Teaching America’s History Grant


Our Artifact Detectives Program is now in its second generation moving forward and building upon our award winning program originally created in 2009-10.

Working in partnership with the Washougal, Evergreen and Ridgefield School Districts the CCHM is the recipient of $24,828 in funding from a multi-year federal Teaching America’s History Grant received by the school districts. During a three year period (2011-2013) the museum will consult with national board certified Pioneer Elementary Teacher Janet Dondelinger and AAR Archaeologist Jessica Hale to mentor and train a total of six Clark County teachers (two per year) who will create curriculum and hands-on education kits to be shared and used by local schools. Like the original pilot project, the education kits will continue to incorporate historic artifacts taken from the archaeological project at the Vancouver Hilton and Convention Center site. Each year the participating teachers will develop and test their own education materials and portable kits based on the needs in their classroom and particular grade levels. As the projects are completed we will post the materials on this page with the intent that any interested teacher can use them as they see fit in their own classrooms. The portable education kits will be made available by reservation. Contact the museum for more information.

Artifact Detectives Education Materials


The education materials below are posted here so that any educator can utilize them in their classrooms. Teachers are encouraged to use the materials as is or to modify them to fit the needs of their individual classrooms. Each participating teacher’s modified curriculum will be posted below for future teachers to use.
To learn more about the Artifact Detectives education kits and/or to find out how your classroom can access them, contact the museum at or 360/993-5679. Please email or call us if you are unable to access the documents below.

2011 Archaeology Materials (developed by Jessica Hale)
For processing artifacts: Artifact catalog form & Processing artifacts & Wash tag labels
For analyzing artifacts: Artifact classification scheme & Functional Classification by Sprague & Historic artifact analysis sheet & Levels of historic analysis
Teachers’ resources Helpful resources for teachers & Historical overview of Vancouver, WA- teacher’s reference & New Brunswick Model article & Paper presented by Bill R. Roulette- a teacher’s reference & Useful resources
School year Teacher/grade/school Materials
2009-10 Janet Dondelinger, 4th grade,
Pioneer Elementary School
4th grade level education materials
2009-10 S. Tyler Morgan,
Camas High School
High school level education materials &
Ed Kit Review
2010-11 Pete Forgey, 8th Grade,
Canyon Creek Middle School
8th grade level education materials
2010-11 Dave Hajek,
8th grade, Washougal High School
8th grade level education materials & Grading rubric
2011-12 Tony Ayala, 5th grade,
Burton Elementary School
5th grade level education materials
2011-12 Jeff Reed, 2nd grade,
Burton Elementary School
2nd grade level education materials
2012-13 Marianne “Nani” Mack, 4th grade, Union Ridge Elementary School Westward Bound on the Oregon Trail, Pros and Cons of Moving West Lesson 1, Additional Work OT Play, Oregon Trail Map Lesson 4, Oregon Trail History Lesson
2012-13 Lucie Willeman, 3rd grade, Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School 3rd grade level education materials


One Response to Artifact Detectives

  1. Karen Morley-Smith

    Thank you for the Artifact Detectives Kit! Our team of fifth grade teachers shared the experience with nearly 100 students who were enthralled with the chance to examine real artifacts. They loved the opportunity to be archaeologists and historians. This work tied in with instruction about primary sources, why we study the past, asking questions, and how we make inferences based on on schema and evidence.

    I highly recommend this kit to any teacher! The people at the museum were great, too!

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