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Education Matters

Objects Tell the Stories

August 28th, 2014

MAG Central - household objects Photo credit: Karli Kendall

Submitted by Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery

Old hands hold a black and white photograph. “Well, let me tell you…,” and the story begins. Questions about when, where and how come are asked.

Perhaps your family has a treasure that tells an engaging story. Maybe it’s a photograph, an article of clothing, or an old toy. If you’re very fortunate, you also get to hear the story from the family member first-hand. These days these opportunities are rare.

The value of hands on learning is significant. Looking at objects stimulates curiosity and entices the listener to learn more about the stories.

It’s proven that hands on activities enhance learning. No matter what age, our brains seek to understand by taking in information, then determining if it’s meaningful or not. Children make connections with what they already know to new information they encounter every day.

Inquiry-based learning has been adopted by Alberta Learning in recent years. Schools and teachers have gravitated away from the traditional lecture method to this model. Inquiry-based learning uses real objects as a core component.

Using real objects as learning tools can:

  • provide direct links to specific topics/subjects;

  • encourage the use all the senses – particularly touch, sight and smell;

  • help develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills;

  • generate lively group participation discussion;

  • create a positive team atmosphere.

Object-based learning helps develop creative thinking abilities. The model is more than just asking questions. Core skills such as observation, data collection, research and analysis are encouraged. Students formulate the questions and do the research to find the answers, and then share the results with others.1.

Museums are a wonderful resource for object-based learning. Many everyday items, like toys, sports and school equipment, photographs and diaries highlight regional history, tell personal stories or share some insights into the day-to-day life.

The Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery is the “hub of history’ in the community. In September 2014, the museum will open MAG Central.

This “artifact lending library” features fifteen comprehensive themes selected from 400 to 500 historical and study-collection artifacts. Resource material supports specific subjects included in Alberta curriculum, Grades 1 through 9.

Each theme provides teachers with other tools/resources to augment the learning in the classroom. Kits are designed for teachers to run an entire program without having to do additional research and planning. They can select from a menu of topics to take a pre-constructed kit or create their own.

Abbey Cruikshank, new MAG staff member, holds an Education Degree with a major in Secondary Social Studies and English Language Arts. Her knowledge of best practices in different learning strategies and educational theories, plus her 10 years of teaching experience, were used to create the MAG Central program.

The goal of the Alberta Social Studies curriculum is to foster historical thinking, helping students to discover new information, make connections and apply learning to new concepts.

The MAG Central program directly supports this goal. Topics about Canada’s origins, our role in significant world events, and the ways the cultural mosaic has shaped our society provide unique, hands-on experiences.

Budget cuts in the school system have made it increasingly difficult for schools to travel to and access outside programming. The MAG Central program will help to eliminate the barriers for schools.

History is far removed from today’s youth; they don’t see the relevance to their lives. When youngsters sit in front of artifacts that they can touch and explore, history becomes more real.

This is a unique initiative and one of the first in an Alberta museum. Artifacts will bring hands on learning experiences to school students and youth groups. Each object and story will enhance an understanding of various peoples’ day-to-day life, their accomplishments, their thoughts, values, and feelings.

Whether a visit to the museum, or bringing the museum to the classroom, the MAG has created a very dynamic learning experience. MAG Central will be an alternate and effective resource for schools and youth groups to get their hands on history.

For more information on the MAG Central program email or call 403-309-8405.



Tags: education

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