A recent study by the American Association of Museums
revealed that the majority of people in the United States
rank museums second only to schools in the education of
young people. This exercise seeks to couple the benefits
of the two top contributors to education by allowing you
and your students to create your own "mini-museum."
Instruct your students to bring one or two small items from
home that they deem historical (use discretion and instruct
them in a manner in which you see fit as to the types of
items they may or may not bring to class). A hint in doing
this is for you to bring one or two items in yourself and
go through the exercise with the students before they bring
in theirs. Once students have brought in their "artifacts,"
put them into groups of three or four and ask them to write
a brief "signboard" on a three by five inch card
that describes the artifact and includes information such
as the manufacturer's name and what era it is from (circa
1940). Next call on the groups to go in front of the class
and set up their exhibits (you may want to provide them
with "furniture" in the form of boxes with cloth
over them to make their exhibits look more authentic). After
the group has set up their exhibit allow them to take turns
describing their artifact(s) to the class. Instruct the
student to be specific about what he or she knows is true
about the artifact. Next, have the student tell what has
been inferred about the artifact over time in their households,
or why they believe the item is historically significant.
Be sure to have students differentiate between what they
know is fact and what they believe is true or family lore.
This exercise will not only help students create a personal
connection with their history but also teach them to focus
on facts. You may also want to establish an area in your
classroom where all the artifacts are displayed and invite
other students and teachers to view your exhibit.