The subject of April’s meeting of the Young Archaeologists Club at Manchester Museum was the latest temporary exhibition Making Monuments on Rapa Nui: the Stone Statues from Easter Island. After showing the children around the exhibition we set up a creative session. The children made models of the moai or Easter Island statues using grey self-drying clay for the volcanic tuff of the heads and bodies and red for the scoria of the pukao or hats. The line-up in the photograph above shows how engaged the children were, and, for adults, it provided a then topical satyrical side-swipe at the line-up of candidates involved in the debates leading up to the General Election…
Forming the heads and bodies out of the grey self-drying clay was challenging but the pukao were easier because they could be rolled out and then cut to size. They always remind me of the coconut sweet in the Liquorice All-Sorts packets (the cylindrical one with liquorice down the centre). The children used pieces of plastic drinking straw to attach the heads to the bodies to hold them in position until they dried (otherwise the heads sag). The children captured the long ears and noses of the statues and some even made separate eyes to insert in their statues, using the red clay for the irises.
As leaders we always find that the best sessions are those that have a practical activity of some sort. The children are more interested and engaged than if we spoke to them as part of a presentation. At the end we lined up the various models to copy the moai that can be seen on the ahu or ceremonial platforms on Rapa Nui or Easter Island.
The Young Archaeologists Club meets at Manchester Museum on the second Saturday of the month but children have to registered with us in advance before they can attend for insurance reasons and each session has to be booked separately beforehand because we have more members than we can accommodate all at once.