The following activity is part of a series we’re creating to support students, teachers, and caregivers, during this unprecedented time. Read more about the project here. If you try this activity with your student(s), we’d love to see what you do. Share your journey via the #Inspired2Learn hashtag on your preferred social platform.
Created by: Jenna Fournel
Discipline: Social Studies
Age level: all ages
Time: All day!
Materials: Pictures of what a museum looks like. (The Smithsonian website has many examples.) A room where you live that can be used as a museum gallery (any room, even a bathroom, can work for this purpose).
What to do:
This activity is designed to fuel conversation and creative thought about what objects represent, how we elevate them to the level of treasured artifacts, and what particular items best represent our own particular persona. If some of your students have not been to a museum before, look for pictures of museums to share or talk about public places like restaurants, libraries, or even school walls where artifacts are often on display.
- Talk with your students about what takes place in a museum, what kinds of things you might find in one, how those things are displayed, and why they think the objects that are displayed might be chosen. (If you are engaging with your students virtually you could do this via a collaborative google doc.) Pictures can help fuel the discussion. If you’ve been to a museum together, tap into that experience for this conversation. Create a list of the things you need to have in a museum. These might include:
- Pictures on the walls
- Tables or boxes that have items on top of them
- Descriptions of the items for visitors to learn more about what they’re seeing
- Spaces where you can sit and look at the things on display
- An audio guide so you can listen to someone explain the things you’re looking at via your phone
- A tour guide who tells you what’s in the museum
- A gift shop
- A cafe
- Explain to your students that today they’ll be creating a museum all about them. Talk about what objects they have that should be put on display to teach a visitor to this museum about who they are. Objects might include:
- School work they’re proud of
- Favorite stuffed animals or toys
- Artwork they’ve made
- Favorite articles of clothing
- Special keepsakes from people they love
- Favorite foods
- Favorite songs
- Photos from important moments in their life
- After they identify all the objects they want to put on display, choose a room in the house where this display can be arranged. This can be as simple as a carpet, couch, or windowsill where things can be set up, or as elaborate as a whole room you are willing to rearrange to create wall space for taping up pictures and tables or boxes for displaying objects. Let the students’ ideas drive the selection and rearrangement of the space as well as the positioning of the objects.
- After the objects have been arranged, have the students think through how they want visitors to experience the space. Do visitors come in and read captions below the pieces to learn about the subject of the museum, or do they have an audio tour they can listen to, or do they have a guide (the student) who can guide them through. You may push for one of these depending on your learning goals. Written descriptions get students writing, an audio tour is good for verbal skills as well as using technology, and an in-person tour is good for boosting public speaking skills. Have the student take time to create the written descriptions, recorded tour, or script for a live tour.
- Depending on students’ situations, encourage, or require, them to give the tour to at least one person. (It might be a family member who lives with them.) Ask each student to collect feedback from the visitor(s) to the museum. This can be done informally (a brief conversation) or can be the basis for an additional detailed writing opportunity.
- You can add to this project depending on time and interest: What might each student make to “sell” in their gift shop? What snacks could be created to “purchase” in the cafe? Your students’ imagination is the only limitation. Encourage students to snap photos of their museums and share them virtually with one another. You can do this sharing via a folder in Google drive or with older students a platform like Instagram can work.
Inspired Teaching Connection
When we honor our students’ individuality we demonstrate mutual respect. And when we give them a chance to showcase the wonder of who they are we create a space for joy. What better way to showcase the student as expert than to make them the curator of their own museum!
See our instructional model here.