Who Owns the Bones

This Who Owns the Bones lesson plan also includes:

A study of the history of the Channel Islands, located off the coast of southern California, continues as class members conduct a mock trial to determine which group of stakeholders should have the right to claim the remains of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, located by a University of California Santa Barbara archeology team. Each group must develop a strong case/argument for their claim to the remains.

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CCSS: Designed
Instructional Ideas

  • If class members have not been introduced to the mock trial format, present a mini-lesson on the purpose and the structure of the activity
  • The activity comes with a disclaimer that the scenarios are not necessarily historically accurate; have groups research the accuracy of the scenario they are assigned to represent in the mock trial
Classroom Considerations

  • The third lesson in the series assumes class members have seen the video that launches the unit
  • Participants should be familiar with the mock trial format
  • Although designed for fourth through sixth graders, the activity is most appropriate for middle or high school classes



  • The three-page packet includes an overview of the plan, a description of the claims of the stakeholders, and a graphic organizer

  • No rubric for the activity is included