This week in class, we are studying Minnesota, Wisconsin, and iowa. Charles Schulz was born in Minneaplis, MN on November 22, 1922. I was pulling out my books for the week and reread Happiness is a Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown by Charles Schulz. As I read the story, I couldn't help but to think of my own childhood and my blanket.
The slideshow above, shows images from my childhood. I carried around a blanket and my "tickle pooies". As I got older, my dad got tired of me always having that big blanket and he cut it up onto smaller pieces. I still have my "tickle pooey" and one piece of my blanket. A couple years ago at Christmas, the cutting of the blanket somehow came up with my dad and our daughter. She was appalled (coming from a kid who loved her blankets). She loves her Papa, but still gives him grief about this choice.
Today, I brought my blanket square and "tickle pooey" in as artifacts to share with my kids. I told them the story of my blankets and my "tickle pooeys." As I read Happiness Is A Warm Blanket, Charlie Brown, I chuckled as Linus' grandmother threatened to do the same with his blanket. He outwitted his grandma.
As with most of my research, my curiosity starts with a book (and memories in this case). I started exploring Charles Schulz online and discovered the amazing museum located in Santa Rosa, California. As an educator, I truly appreciate when a museum has a strong online component so that I can bring the information into my classroom. The Charles M. Schulz Museum does not disappoint! The timeline gives excellent visual detail to his life, so much so, that I will use it as a further teaching tool for artifacts and primary sources. The museum website also gives in incredible insight into the background of the characters from the Peanuts gang.
For several weeks now, we have been starting our morning with an artifact or primary source to analyze together as a class. I have been following the "See-Think-Wonder" strategy to promote students' observations and interpretations. I will say that I am really enjoying this morning routine, as I am seeing students that do not normally participate in class discussion engaged in learning.
My kids know that whatever I put up has some sort of connection to our current studies. In my room, this has many possibilities. Is it connected to the state we are studying? Our current social studies unit or a celebrated birthday?
Today, I placed the object above (courtesy of NPS Franklin D. Roosevelt Home) up for discussion as today is Franklin D. Roosevelt's birthday. My students do really well with the "seeing and thinking". I love when we get to the "wonder". I have several students that I love watching think. One in particular sits and stares at our classroom timeline.
He is thinking and it makes me happy.
As our discussion continues, ideas come out. Was it Harriet Tubman's (we are studying the Civil War)? Could it be Helen Keller's (we learned about her recently while studying Georgia)? Another student chimes in about the hat. I left my students to continue to wonder and then showed one of my favorite series of presidential videos by Disney (see clip on the right). I prefer this clip for my purposes as it has an image of FDR in a wheelchair, which is uncommon. Once the students saw clip, they immediately knew that it belonged to FDR. This then opened the door to further conversations about the image that FDR worked very hard to uphold to the public so that he would not appear weak.
I love #MuseumMonday!
Tonight, I came home to look up more on the National Park Service as a museum. I hadn't given it much thought before I went looking for my daily artifact with the intent of finding FDR's wheelchair. The National Park Service is the guardian to SO many of our nation's treasures. In their charge, they oversee battlefields, natural treasures and historic sites. It only makes sense that their collection is immense. As I continued to explore further, I came across the Museum Collections department of the National Park Service. Definitely worth my while to continue to explore. I can predict that pieces will show up in the future on #MuseumMonday.
What is a museum? How do they start? Do they have to be housed in a public space or can they be sheltered in a private abode?
Merriam-Webster defines a collection as an accumulation of objects for study, comparison or an exhibition or as a hobby.
My husband and I were talking last week about our first memory of a museum. I don't have any memories of museums as a young child. My first memory is from going to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science as part of a middle school Spanish trip. Truth be told, the entire motivation for going on the trip to the museum is that it was followed up by a trip to the local Denver landmark restaurant, Casa Bonita. As a teenager, it doesn't get any better than Casa Bonita!
In my married life, we began taking our own kids up to Denver to the Museum of Nature and Science. We began taking trips with the first one to Kansas City. Along the way we explored the Negro League Baseball Hall of Fame and the Jazz Museum. We strolled through the Nelson Atkins Art Museum. This was the beginning of many trips.
At home, I have always been a collector. As I child I remember collecting pens and pennants. My grandmother started a bell collection for me. Not much has changed. Like so many of you, I have way too many collections to keep track of and I love them all. Friends come over to our house and believe we have our own museum.
According to Amerian Alliance of Museums, US museums protect more than 1 billion objects. It is estimated that there are more than 35,000 active museums in the United States.
There is no way to calculate the millions of items that are in private homes as a collection. I am intrigued by what people collect and how their collection was started.
I thought I would begin posting from time to time a piece or two from my collections. Stay tuned...
Hmmm, a blue hippo? Museum Monday?
This summer, I was fortunate enough to listen and then present at a department meeting in the Colonial Williamsburg Education Department. One of the many energenic and young staff members had just returned from her recent visit to The Met to share about an new approach to museum tours called a "museum hack." I listened with great intrigue and then appreciated this small gift store momento she picked up along the way. The entire musuem hack idea sounds rather intriquing as these tours are very intimate, fast paced and chocked full of more obscure, yet engaging tidbits of information.
Ahh, one more adventure to add to the bucket list.
Anyhow, back to first grade. During the month of December we focus our studies around New York City. I do this for many reasons, including the diversity and festivities during the holiday season. The city also offers some wonderful mini studies including the Statue of Liberty and immigration, buildings and transportation and MUSEUMS!! Yes, it's museum week.
As I was gathering my books and other resources, remembered a fabulous video that I have used in the past. It took me way too long to find this gem, which is one of the main reasons that I wanted to share. My kids loved it today! The video is from the Met and is and introduction to some of the masters within the Met. PLEASE, PLEASE check out the video!
As my class began watching the video, I noticed that it began with the same blue hippo I had held in the meeting in Williamsburg. I needed to know more. It turns out that this little blue hippo is originally from Egypt (please see the museum information for a complete description). I then did more research and came across the #MetKidsBlog with further questions on William the Hippo. This letter to William from a child only reinforced that artifacts are an excellent teaching tool within the classroom.
Artifacts naturally prompt questions.
Questions create learning.
Learning opens doors.
I am super excited about this post as one of my current students has been exploring Williamsburg today. For the last several weeks, we have been studying folk art and writing our own stories around the Prince exhibit at the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum. The students have created their own folk art animals and have written Prince narratives, all the while focusing on character, setting, problem and solution.
We are preparing for our first museum night showcasing our art and writing.
In addition to the folk art piece, the students are learning about the trades and clothing of Colonial Williamsburg. They are studying vocabulary and comparing and contrasting both the trades and clothing over time.
So...when my student, Arianna, and her family were going to DC, I of course suggested a side trip down to CW. I was also excited when my dear friend and CW education staff member, Lisa, was was able to meet the family for lunch. I only wish that I could have been there to see the look on Arianna's face when Lisa showed up with Moffat of Williamsburg. Of course, Arianna and Lisa hit it off with their Moffats. Moffat is an amazing social object that breaks down barriers and opens doors.
I am thankful that Arianna and her family were able to enjoy the living history of Colonial Williamsburg. I am looking forward to having her back to have her share her adventures with the class.
By far, I have to say that my favorite type of art is folk art.
By definition, folk art is art that is created by an untrained person. Both my husband and I are drawn to it and our own house has become a resting spot for many pieces over time.
Every year, at this time, I have an itch to go back to visit Santa Fe, New Mexico. The photos above and the video below are from the Santa Fe Folk Art Museum. I know that this draw has to do with many fond memories from several trips there during this time of year. There is something very alluring about being there every fall.
In my own classroom, we are currently working on a writing project inspired by folk art from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Museum in Colonial Williamsburg. For me, it matters not where the folk art comes from, I just love it.
I look at the pieces and I wonder...
Wny did you create this? Is there a story? Did you ever imagine your work would be in a museum or part of someone's collection?
Objects tell stories. The stories could be from the creator or from the collector. They are stories.
What do you collect? What inspires you? Why?
It's #MuseumMonday, although I didn't have any kids to share my artifact with as it was a teacher work day.
I wanted to share my favorite camera from my vintage camera collection. I can't say why this one is my favorites, other than the fact that I love it's compact size. I used this photo during an online class through William and Mary and Colonial Williamsburg for teaching with museum exhibits.
As a child, I could always tell where my mom was in a crowd as all I had to do was look for the first flash of a camera. Mind you, I grew up in the 70s and my mom used the sad Kodak 110 camera. It produced a large collection of grainy memories. I'm not complaining, the pictures exist, which is more than many people can say. I am thankful that my mom had to mindset to capture my childhood on film.
My grandpa, Andy (see above), was also a photographer and a traveler. I like to think that I am much like him. I am currently looking for a Bantam camera like he used to add to my collection.
When teaching with objects, there are several approaches to take for instruction. Most commonly, I find myself simply having my students describing the artifact, hypothesizing what it may have been used for and who used it, and then how has it changed.
This summer, during the application sessions held during the Colonial Williamsburg Teacher Institute, we were introduced to two alternative strategies for object based learning. One approach is to take a type of object that has evolved through time and note how it has changed. Cameras are a great option to do this with. Toys, telephones/cell phones or countless other objects could be looked at from this view point. Our local history museum uses this approach in the local photography exhibit at a hands-on teaching cart. Children (and adults) are encouraged to look at a set of 5 cameras and put them in chronological order. The docent then asks how the participant came to that conclusion.
Another strategy is to look at the story of the object coming from the perspective of that object. I particularly think this would be fun with a camera. I think about my own cameras and the thousands of photos I have taken. What would it say about my perspective? The lighting? The subject? The settings? Would it have a favorite series of pictures and why?
For cameras that have captured tumultuous times, what would it have to say? Or the camera of a fashion designer or on a movie set? This type of approach challenges our students to look at an object through a different lens (no pun intended).
Challenge yourself to try some new strategies rather than falling into the same routine. Object based learning is powerful and has so many teaching opportunities to take advantage of.
Oh how I love election season! I love election season because it gives me great cause to dive into all things Presidential for a month. Today, I put up the presidential timeline in the classroom and it grew quite a bit of attention. I love the math connections that I can incorporate while teaching about the presidents.
Four years ago, I was not using objects in my classroom like I am today. I decided today would be a fantastic time to share the White House Historical Association's collection in my classroom. We recently learned about the Bald Eagle in the classroom and were discussing Obama ending his time in office, so I thought this piece would be fitting to share. It was important to share the color choices of the piece chosen by the First Lady to represent the colors of the blue waters of Hawaii. I am encouraging my first graders to pay close attention to detail in their illustrations as the details give the readers more information.
I began exploring the association's collection, but am looking forward to incorporating it even more into my room. I encourage you to take the time to create and account and explore for yourself.
As it is #MuseumMonday in our class today, we enjoyed this incredible resource put out by Google Arts and Culture. It was magnificent listening to my students shout out that they recognized a piece of art as it danced across the screen.
My endeavor this year is to continue to explore museums in my classroom and use exhibits as a teaching tool. Last summer, I was fortunate enough to take an online course through Colonial Williamsburg focusing on just that. I can see the power of using exhibits and the engagement that it brings to students.
As part of our studies, we will be looking at different museums across the country, the collections they hold and how those collections are classified. I am excited to continue to investigate the endless resources that Google has worked to make available to the public. These resources will become a valuable teaching tool for me this year. Another strategy that I want to expand upon is the Visible Thinking strategy using See-Think-Wonder. I believe this could be another valuable tool. Excited to learn more!
One os my students commented to me to day, "Mrs. Howard, we need to study more American art." Well guess what my friend, you got it!! My only problem is there are too many resources and not enough time!!!
Don't you love the smell of crayons? You know the smell I am talking about. It smells like the amazing art room from elementary school. I honestly think that the smell should be bottled or put into a candle. I would buy it!! The other artifact that this reminds me of is the rolled crayon holder that my mom made for me as a kid. Each crayon had its own spot and then we would roll it up for storage. That is one artifact that I still wish I had!!
In my first grade classroom, today was the first day we began writing in our journals for #MuseumMonday. We are studying the state of Pennsylvania this week, so naturally a crayon box needed to be in our classroom museum. Our #MuseumMonday work will be a combination of artifacts from our own museum and from online museum collections.
This particular box is a treasure to me. About 10 years ago, Crayola Crayons came out with the state crayon collection. I had several boxes in my room that were used for special projects. At the time, I still taught Kindergarten. It was a joy to have my kids yell across the room, "I have Macaroni and Cheese Orange" or "I have Purple Mountain Purple." It was even better because the had the background knowledge to know why the crayons had the names they did.
Sadly, all that is left of my wonderful crayon collection is the box. I have looked on Ebay and Amazon and none are to be found. Honestly, I think they need to begin manufacturing these again. If Crayola could see what was happening when the kids were coloring, it would be well worth it.
My thoughts for the manufacturing world: Crayola needs do begin manufacturing this crayon set again and Bath and Bodyworks needs to make a crayon scented candle! I would buy both!!
wife, mom, teacher, author, history nerd and the lady that carries around a rabbit