Woolly Mammoth Hunt!


To begin our study of Ancient History, we read about a man who was preserved in ice for 5,000 years called Iceman.  Very little is known about Iceman except for what he carried with him and what X-Rays later revealed about his life and death.

If you’re interested in learning more facts about Iceman, there’s an excellent link here.  We now know what type of food he ate and what time of year he died.  If you want to learn more about how scientists determined what his life was like, click on the link.

Ice Man

One of the artifacts found with Iceman was a partially constructed bow and arrow.  Of course our class wanted to build bows and arrows.

mammoth0  mammoth3



As you can see, the hunt was successful and no actual animals became extinct!  We learned how hard it is to use a bow and arrow, and we learned why people hunted large game in groups.

Were Woolly Mammoths the only thing that people from 5,000 years ago hunted?  Were all mammoths woolly?  Were there mammoths even bigger than the Woolly Mammoth?  To find out, you’ll have to click on this link with 10 facts about the woolly mammoth.

Parents, before you can say, “you’ll shoot your eye out”, let me explain why I gave 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders a piece of technology capable of taking down a ten-ton rampaging woolly beast on a frozen tundra.  First of all, I spent a great deal of time thinking of ways to make it safe and what could possibly go wrong.  I’m sure any of them would have taken a shot at a live squirrel if given a chance.  In my search for the perfect safe arrow I consulted a few experts on the subject including one young medieval weapons expert who can often be found marching around his house in tin foil knight armor.  I experimented with various forms of projectiles and ended up just wrapping up newsprint (newspaper) into a roll and then taping it.  Just to be sure, several of the teachers took turns being the woolly mammoth to see what it felt like.  We weren’t skilled enough to actually hit each other, but we felt confident that it’s not possible to actually get hurt by being hit with newspaper.  It may be startling and probably not feel great, but it crumples up.  Additionally, we had a long talk about safety, and all of the kids did a really great job following those rules.

To make the bow, I cut 1/2″ PVC pipes into 4′ sections, drilled holes near each end for the nylon string, then used pipe insulation foam for the grip.  There are two types of white pvc pipe.  Use the lighter, thinner one if the bow will be used with kids.  It doesn’t have as much force when launching an arrow.  Attaching the string took some trial and error.  Woven nylon string was the only thing that didn’t break.  Feed the string through one hole and push enough through to wrap around the pipe five or six times before you tie it off.  When attaching the other end, push the bow down to bend it, wrap it six times, and see if there is at least 14″ of space between the bow and handle.  If not, unwrap and adjust.  The nylon will stretch a bit then settle in.  You don’t want the string too close to the handle or you’ll whack your fingers with the string.  Trust me, that’s no fun!  If you want to build one and have questions, I’d love to help.

paper arrow