Mo History Museum – Learning to be Museum Detectives

The Missouri History Museum is such a fabulous resource for homeschooling!

It hosts a homeschool day each month that is filled with unschooling.

The kids participate in real-life learning activities, and there are always ideas to extend the educational experiences.

(My little Eli was home sick but we brought a neighbor who is on spring break)

First we started in the Craft Room – It was all about Breaking Codes!

The circle decoder is called a Caesar Shift Cipher.

There were also papers with Morris Code messages, Scytales, and Steganography.  We didn’t get to explore all the codes while we were there so we brought the papers home.  I think we will also google the different codes to find out the history behind them.
Next we went on a Guided Tour of some of the exhibits: Engaging with Artifacts Tour.

The guide got the children to think critically about the different exhibits. What do portraits tell us about a time period or person? What do the stories do the displays tell?

I liked how the tour taught the kids to walk through a museum and look at the artifacts and learn from it…by themselves. I think that a lot of times, we go to museums and expect our children to know how to look at objects singularly, whereas exhibits as a whole are quite over-stimulating.  The guide was teaching them to look for details that were full of information…

Teaching kids how to learn… teaching kids how to be Museum Detectives!

One of the themes in the exhibit was then vs nowI was LOVING this kitchen!!

I know… some of you are thinking my Fanny-Pack belongs in the past… but too bad -LOL!

After the tour we went to a Hands-on Engaging with the Artifacts Workshop where the kids got to hold, listen, and smell artifacts.  (I am proud to say the kids knew all about the record player!)

We stopped at the Grannie Annie Oral History Booth… and I can’t wait to do this project with the kids!

Basically, your child interviews someone in the family about a time before they were born. Then, the child types it up in story format and submit it in a contest.  The winners are published in the yearly book!

 The lady at the booth gave me several papers with examples of interview questions and topics and ideas for the children to use to generate their own ideas and questions.

I am so excited to have an authentic writing activity that the kids are already excited about and want to do!

If you want more information, check out the website Grannie Annie.

After lunch we went to the Conservation Workshop.

 The kids learned about conservation… preserving something for the future.  Normally we think of nature and conservation, but artifacts in a museum need to be conserved too.

First there was a slideshow talking about the roles of a conservator within a history museum.

Then the kids got to try their hands at conserving a clay pot. They had to dig the pieces of their pot out of dirt, brush them off and glue them together.  They even gave me a pot for Eli to glue together at home… (and BOY! was he happy!!)

There was a demonstration in how lights are used to help identify materials.

 The black light showed that the glass was contaminated with uranium and the porcelain bowl had glue lines running all through it.  This was a cool experiment to see!

The final workshop was Curator for a day, meaning each group got to “create” an exhibit.

 The kids were in a group together and chose Native Americans.  They liked coming up with their own ideas for a display and explaining why they picked each artifact.

I grabbed a copy of the handout they used, because I thought it would help them do a project at home on a trifold poster board. (Andre already said he wanted to do an exhibit for rocks and Eddie wants to do one for Magicians!)

When we left the History Museum, the kids had to stop off at the massive playground and run around playing ZOMBIES…

When we got home, they told their dad and Eli everything they learned and they finished gluing their pots together!

Since we just used Elmer’s glue, I have a feeling the pots will fall apart… which means I can hide them in the dirt pile out back and have the kids dig and find them like archeologist!

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