To understand the difference between an adze and an axe, ask students to make two axe heads the same shape out of air-drying clay. Get students to make a hole in the non-cutting end of one of their axe heads while the clay is still soft. When the axe heads have dried, students have to work out how to attach wooden handles using string.
These activities make use of the six later adzes you can find in A bigger picture.
Print out images of the objects in A bigger picture and a set of cards with all the materials used to make these adzes. Ask students to match up the materials to the adzes. Why have these materials been used for these jobs? How do these non-Mesolithic examples help us understand the Mesolithic adze?
Still using the same object images, do some map work to identify the parts of the world from which they come. Use the British Museum collections search page and the internet to find lots of different adzes. Make a more extensive survey of the places and times when adzes have been used. What materials have people used to make them?
These activities are intended to get students to think about what it was like to live in the Mesolithic period.
Ask students to find out more about a range of animals from the Mesolithic period including the aurochs. How would they work with other people, and possibly dogs, to hunt these animals? What weapons would they use? They might create a large picture showing Mesolithic hunters in the forest.
After looking at a range of archaeological remains from the Mesolithic period, have a discussion with your students about what the word primitive means. Would they describe Mesolithic people as primitive? Why? What skills do we have that they didn’t have? Would any of these skills have helped them? What skills did they have that we don’t have?
Michelle Paver’s novel Wolf Brother is set in the Mesolithic period and contains vivid and detailed evocations of life for a group of hunter gatherers. Use selected passages to bring to life aspects of life in that period, especially the animals and how they are hunted, the settlements and the different artefacts the people use and what they are made from. Chapter 6 includes a detailed description of the uses to which a red deer carcass is put.
Forestry Commission Scotland has produced an excellent resource pack to accompany the novel. It is full of useful information about the Mesolithic period in general, references to the novel and activities for the classroom and outside. Page 37 has a diagram and a table of the way the red deer carcass is used and there is an appendix on the trees that grew in the Mesolithic period.