Letters from Camp: Curating an Exhibit

Using a student created museum exhibit to share and assess learningOne of the hardest “justifications” you face as an educator is proving that learning took place. Grant funders might ask it…or supervisors…or parents…or it could be just an internal question that you pester yourself with. At this camp, we were required to have some kind of “grand finale” that the parents were invited to. It turned out to be the best reflection tool for the students AND the teachers and it left us with a nice little “portfolio” about the week.

We opted to do a museum “opening” with separate exhibits for each day of camp. Throughout the week we carefully saved things the kids were working on, did little write ups and took TONS of pictures. Honestly, the pictures were the best because then the parents could really see what we had been up to and they loved being able to take them home.

We really wanted them to embrace this as a museum, so we dove into museum jobs and got them thinking about what job THEY would take on for the day. As museum curators we visited the Star Spangled Banner and looked at the light levels, plus got a sneak peek into a collection area! As exhibit designers we did a critique of a nearby exhibit and as docents/security officers we did a hands-on activity in the museum.

The day of the exhibit the kids were buzzing with so much excitement we could barely keep them contained in the classroom. They helped us write labels, planned how they would show our visitors around, created name badges and decorations and even an organizational chart!

Honestly, it didn’t take too much time out of our day (for kids or teacher prep) and the excitement they had for it was a great reward for a long week.

If kids in your life want to create their own museum, help them with three simple ideas

1. Objects: They will need to pick the objects to go into the exhibit. What story are they going to tell? Why are these objects special? This is a good chance to talk about how museums don’t save EVERYTHING but instead choose the best examples that help tell the story!

2. Labels: What kind of labels are they going to have? Basic ones that just say what the object is, or labels that help tell the story? What other information is going to be in their museum?

3. Museum Jobs: We found the kids really got into the idea of being part of the museum by having their own job. Breaking it down into very simple ideas of curator (takes care of objects), exhibit designer (sets up/maintains displays), docent (helps answer questions) and security officer (pretty self-explanatory) got everyone involved and feeling like they had a role.

Summer Camp Exhibit (6)Summer Camp Exhibit (1) Summer Camp Exhibit (3) Summer Camp Exhibit (4)


This entry was posted in Early Childhood Education, Museum Education, Museum Fun at Home, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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