Epic Mini Museums

Hi all, Elisha here!

One of the aims of this traineeship has been to help raise awareness of the different roles in museums. A way we have been doing this is by revisiting our old schools, where we can also encourage children to learn through our collections. Last week I had the pleasure of going back to Sidegate Primary School in Ipswich, where I used to work, to deliver some hands on activities.

I was asked if I could run sessions for the whole of year 5, themed around their current topic of Anglo Saxons and Vikings. So everyone could take part, the year was broken into 6 groups of 15 children, each having a 40 minute session. I was very excited! Having previously run a History Club at Sidegate, I know how effective ‘Mini Museum’ activities are. They involve giving children a selection of objects (in this case a combination of replicas and laminated images) to create their own museum.

efdg.pngBefore starting, I showed the children some real Anglo Saxon objects from our collection. They were very excited to see these, particularly when I said they were over 1000 years old. The group guessed what the objects were and how they were used. We moved on to talking about what museum staff might do with them, in this case a Curator, Learning Officer and Exhibition Officer.

Next up, the children had 20 minutes to create their own ‘Mini Museum’. They were clearly quite excited by this as I heard whispers of “YES!” and “awesome“. I explained that instead of ’60 Minute Makeover’, we were doing ’20 Minute Museum’ (a bad joke, but they seemed to appreciate it…).

I split the group into two teams and gave the children different jobs. So that they all felt confident and enjoyed themselves, I made sure each role suited the individual’s learning style. I also put out plenty of information, so they could write interesting object labels. I encouraged the children to work together and think about what a museum visitor would like to see. You can click on the images above to see the different roles and tasks.

Whilst the children were busy creating their Mini Museums, I took the Anglo Saxon objects around the room. I briefed them on how to correctly handle the objects and asked why we must wear gloves. Most were correct in telling me it is to protect them from the oils on our hands.

When their time was up, all the children got a big round of applause. The two groups discussed their museums, sharing their favourite object, what they found most difficult and why they made the choices they did. On some occasions, the Curator swapped roles with the Exhibition Officer, while at other times, they worked with the Learning Officer on a trail. This perfectly demonstrated to the children the fluid nature of museums and how important teamwork is.

The day went incredibly well and all of the children seemed to really enjoy themselves. Not only did the session complement what they were learning at school about the Saxons and the Vikings, the children got to see real objects and learn new facts. All this whilst working together and creating an amazing museum!

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The Mini Museum above was named “Time on the table” and featured a night time exhibition, including the chance to meet Odin, watch sword fighting and even fireworks. The one below was named after their class and beautifully displayed.

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Thank you to Sidegate for allowing me to come for the day, it was great fun!

Till next time,

Elisha

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