Children love to learn and explore, and museums can be wonderful places to encourage them to do just that. These days, there are so many options to choose from when it comes to learning experiences.
Today’s students across the U.S. get in depth lessons about animals, science, nature, history and more, and museums are great ways to complement what they’re learning in the classroom.
However, as little ones can be easily distracted, it can be a bit tricky to get younger children to stay interested in everything the museum has to offer for the entire visit. But there are things teachers can do to help them get the most out of a museum field trip. Here are some of the best tips.
Before you go, spend some time online and check out everything the facility has to offer. Not only will doing some planning prove handy when it comes to time management, you’ll also learn a little about the activities and items on display.
Choose a handful of things you know your students will be the most interested in and find ways to introduce them before your trip. When they come to those pieces in the museum, they’ll feel a sense of pride and excitement that they are knowledgeable about the artifact.
Just as learning how to create a website with information about the American Revolution is a more engaging way of learning history, than say, a traditional research report, you’ll have to get creative when finding ways to keep children focused on your museum field trip. An exhibit may be utterly fascinating for adults, but it doesn’t mean young students will appreciate it in the same way.
For that reason, it’s important to find ways to keep their minds focused. Bring a small notebook and write down a few questions pertaining to a particular piece that caught their attention, then find a gathering spot and sit with them while they write their answers. Encourage them to ask tour guides about various exhibits, as well.
And don’t forget to get a little silly now and then! If you come across a statue in a funny pose, encourage students to recreate it and snap a photo (sans flash, and only if photography is allowed!). In order to do that, they’ll need to study the piece, and they may take in more that way than they would by just looking at it and moving on.
If students have a talent for drawing, have them bring along their sketchbooks and draw recreations of the museum exhibits (or encourage them to write down their initial impressions of the piece). Letting them apply their own abilities will help them connect with the exhibits and be more present.
Some museums offers hands-on activities for little people, so take advantage of any opportunity to incorporate this into the visit. Oftentimes, too, a museum's staff is willing to create a special activity specific to your group if you reach out to the museum ahead of time.
Kids are creatures of habit, so don’t forget to allow for snack and meal times, as needed, and plenty of breaks, especially if the museum is a large one.
If the weather is nice, you may want to consider taking a midday learning break by having a picnic outside. It’ll be a great opportunity for your students to get some fresh air, fill their bellies, and recharge their brains for more learning!
A museum trip can be an incredible experience for a child, and with a little careful planning and classroom discussion, these trips can leave a lasting impression. teacher resources
A great visit to a history or art museum can plant a seed that leads to a future career or hobby. So keep them engaged and get them talking! teacher resources
Caroline Hampton is a teacher and concerned parent. She created OpenEducators.org to make it easier for teachers (and parents) to find reliable, engaging educational resources for the children in their care.
In addition to working on the site, Caroline enjoys spending her time organizing events at her church, cycling, and of course, hanging out with her husband and two kids.
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