Topic Boxes: Making a classroom museum and developing writing skills

The museum has a range of boxes for hire relating to many different history topics.  Schools have found many different creative ways to use them.  One popular idea is to create a class museum.  Pupils can choose an object to research then write a label on it – but to really develop their skills at writing and presenting information for different audiences, they can also learn the techniques we use when writing labels in the museum.

We start off by doing a lot of research on an object first.  Pupils can start by reading the information on their object in the topic box resource pack.  Information from this might lead them to do further research in books or on the internet.  At this point it will be useful to discuss which websites might provide the most reliable information for research – another museum’s website is likely to have good information on objects.

Now comes the hard bit.  After all that work work, pupils must decide what are the most important things visitors to your class museum should know about their object.  They can’t fit all the information on to their label as that would be too much for a visitor to read.  Remember, visitors will be looking round the museum at lots of objects, so they aren’t likely to read or remember more than one or two facts about each one.

However, this is also the fun bit – pupils are now the expert on the object, so they can decide what they think the most important thing visitors should know about their object. It might be an historical piece of information, a quirky fact, something funny or amazing – you really want to grab visitors’ attention, so they are encouraged to find out more for themselves. Can you think of another good way of grabbing a visitor’s attention?  You can ask a question on the label (see what I did there?!) This will encourage the visitor to talk or think about their object.

We usually try and write no more than 50 words on a label, so pupils can try making that their word limit.  Other important things to include are the title or name of the object, the date it was made and / or used but if you don’t know this you can say so. 

Now think about the design of your label.  You want people to be able to read it easily, when typing them we use a big font size – about 16 points for a title and 14 points for the information about it.  We might use a different colour for the title or make it bold.  There are lots of different font styles you can choose, but we usually go for something plain and simple like Arial or Century Gothic as these are easy for people to read.  If you are handwriting them, then neat and clear writing will work just as well.

If this sounds a bit boring, then you can have a lot more fun getting creative with a poster design for your classroom exhibition.  More on that, with some top tips from the museum’s exhibition design expert in a future blog!

Find out more about the boxes available to hire https://www.eppingforestdc.gov.uk/museum/learning/schools/

Jill Barklem

We’ve come across some fascinating stories of local people while researching our new school workshop, Local Legends.

Did you know that Jill Barklem, author of the popular Brambly Hedge children’s books, was from Epping? She grew up surrounded by the gently rolling patchwork of fields and forest we are so lucky to have in the District. Jill loved this countryside and enjoyed nature watching.

While Jill was at Loughton High School, now the site of Roding Valley, she developed a serious eye condition and was advised not to take part in games lessons to avoid this getting worse. Instead, she spent her time in the school art studio, allowing Jill to focus her efforts on honing her artistic talent.

Jill went on to study at St Martin’s School of Art in London. Each day she travelled there and back on a packed Central Line train, passing the time by imagining what the small animals of the fields and hedgerows around Epping might be doing while away from watchful human eyes. Something Jill didn’t imagine on these long commutes was that she would one day turn these fantasies into books, and become a celebrated children’s author. Jill said later, “I did not have a very clear idea of my future but assumed I would earn my living by illustrating other people’s books. I certainly never imagined that one day I would write my own.”

After getting married, Jill put pen to paper and started work on her first story about a resourceful family of mice and their animal friends, and the Tales of Brambly Hedge were born. Each book took Jill up to two years to craft, and was filled with extraordinarily detailed illustrations which have an enduring appeal to this day. Jill was fastidious in her research, even trying out recipes at home to check the food featuring in her stories!

Jill’s stories have sold millions of copies, and in 1996 were made into a television series featuring the voices of Jim Broadbent and June Whitfield. Jill died in 2017, but her stories continue to be enjoyed around the world today.

Holocaust Memorial Day 2021

This Image is courtesy of the Fox Family

Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) takes place each year on 27 January. We remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi Persecution and in genocides that followed in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The museum will be hosting a special exhibition The Boys: Holocaust Survivors in the Epping Forest District from 8 May to 4 September 2021.  This will tell the incredible story of the young Holocaust survivors, young men between the ages of 16 and 21, who came to stay at Holmehurst, a house on the borders of Buckhurst Hill and Loughton from December 1945 to January 1947 as part of their recovery.  We think up to 30 young men came to Holmehurst, and they became known as the Loughton Boys. 

The Loughton boys were part of the first group of around 300 young survivors who were brought to Britain after the war.  A total of 715 children eventually came to Britain.  They are collectively known as ‘The Boys’ as, despite the mix of genders and ages in the group, the majority were teenage boys.

You can find out more about them and their incredible personal stories of recovery in the new education resource packs available on our website, which include profiles of each boy.

HMD is for everyone. Each year across the UK, thousands of people come together to learn more about the past and take action to create a safer future. We know they learn more, empathise more and do more.

If you would like to take part in Holocaust Memorial Day, the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust’s website has suggested activities you can do at home to mark the day.

The Holocaust threatened the fabric of civilisation, and genocide must still be resisted every day. Our world often feels fragile and vulnerable and we cannot be complacent. Even in the UK, prejudice and the language of hatred must be challenged by us all.

Art and Craft Activities

While you are staying at home we thought we would share some great craft activities you could do!

Week 1: Big letters

Big letters - Family

Leanne has been making some art resource boxes for the museum.  Lots of the ideas in it are very simple things you can do at home with everyday things.  To start off, try this big letter activity – think of a word that means a lot you and have fun GOING BIG WITH IT!!

Resources you’ll need

  • paper or card (cereal boxes are perfect)
  • pencil, colouring pens or pencils
  • scrap material
  • coloured paper
  • glue

Draw outlines of your letters on card – don’t worry about making them perfect – think about turning a letter into a bubble shape.  Decorate the letters any way you like by colouring them in, sticking things to them etc.  You can keep them separate and stick them up, or make a little hole in them then thread them on to wool or string to hang up.

Here are some ideas for you:

  • The Y is made from sticking on buttons
  • The F uses fabric we had lying around
  • The L is made from felt
  • The M uses tissues screwed up into little balls and stuck on
  • The A and I are painted

Get creative and share your words with us!

Takeover Day 2019

On Wednesday 20 November, year 8 students from King Harold Business & Enterprise Academy, took over the running of the museum as part of Takeover Day.

Visitors took part in a tour, activities and a trail all devised and led by the students, and were in charge of our Twitter and Facebook accounts for the day.

Three students were even interviewed live on BBC Essex radio – something they only found out about an hour before going on air.

Lilly live on air with Richard Smith from BBC Essex

The 10 pupils worked with staff, in a series of preparations days, to learn more about the day to day running of the museum; they were given a behind the scenes tour, handled objects from the collections, created posters and content for their tours.

Climate change

They themed their take over around climate change, linking it to the current Ice Age exhibition; this period was a natural form of climate change, comparing it to now as more manmade through global warming.

One gallery had been declared a ‘no go zone’ to represent how, through climate change, parts of the world will disappear and be submerged in the oceans. Another gallery was filled with one week’s worth of rubbish to show how much waste each household has and to encourage visitors to recycle as much as they can.

Jack, Rhiannon, Rhianna and Archie with Woolly and a small forest of handmade trees

One activity the year 8s run was to make little trees from cork, a cocktail stick, beads and ripped paper. Each tree represented a real endangered tree and was given a label with details of where the tree currently survives and why it is under threat of extinction. This small forest of trees will be on display until the beginning of December.

A word from the students

We asked the pupils what they did as part of Takeover Day, what they enjoyed and what they learnt that surprised them about working in a museum – here are their answers:

Mark: I did the tours [and enjoyed] all of it.

Rhianna: I was posting on social media updating Twitter and Facebook for the public and update our #takeoverday . I enjoyed making captions and doing the social media.

Mark and Dmithry giving their tour to the headteacher and deputy head of King Harold Academy

Obinna: I did a tour, [and enjoyed] doing tours and being on the radio.

Dmithry: I did the tours with Mark, [enjoyed] all of it and [learnt that working in a museum] is really fun.

Joni: I took part in the tree activity. I enjoyed making trees and helping others make them. I was surprised that I was going to be on the radio.

Louie: I advertised outside, I had a go at a tour, I spoke to the chairman and helped people make trees. [I enjoyed] speaking to the chairman 1 on 1 (I found that really exciting). I’m quite good at advertising and drawing people in.

Lilly: We learnt about climate change and we done tour and other jobs that people who work here do. [I enjoyed] everything. I learnt a lot about climate change and how people work in the museum.

Rhiannon: I was posting on social media updating Twitter and Facebook about our takeover day. I enjoyed making the different captions for our tweets and taking the pictures, I also enjoyed spotting our woolly mammoth. I learnt how much work, effort and time goes into the takeover day.

Archie: I made trees, helped with snakes and ladders and made a poster. [I enjoyed] making trees. [I learnt working in a museum] is easy.

Takeover Day

Takeover Day is a national celebration (created by Kids in Museums) of young people’s contributions to museums, galleries, arts organisations, archives and heritage sites. It’s a day on which they work alongside staff and volunteers to participate in the life of the organisation or venue.

To find more, visit https://kidsinmuseums.org.uk/takeoverday/

Epping Forest District Museum’s Education Offer

Find out more about the Education Sessions we have on offer and our workshops and loans box programme below.

Bringing your class to Epping Forest District Museum 2019 – 2020

Bringing your class to Lowewood Museum 2019 – 2020

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KS 1 Workshops and Loan Boxes 2019 – 2020

KS 2 Workshops and Loan Boxes 2019 – 2020

For further information or to make a booking please contact the museum:

E. museum@eppingforestdc.gov.uk

T. 01992 716882

Waltham Abbey’s old schools

Below is a small gallery of images of schools and Sunday schools from our archives.

Find more images of Waltham Abbey at efdhistory.org.uk

 

Our Takeover Day Video

As you may have seen in last week’s blog post, our sister site Lowewood Museum took part in Takeover Day this year.

We are pleased to be able to share with you the fantastic video that was created of the Takeover Day that took place at Lowewood Museum.

We hope you enjoy it!

Takeover Day at Lowewood Museum from Kingstreetimages on Vimeo.

Thanks to Kids in Museum, SHARE museums East and Broxbourne Council for their support and funding for the project.

Takeover Day

To find out more about Kids in Museums or Takeover day visit their website http://kidsinmuseums.org.uk/takeoverday/

SHARE

To find out more about SHARE visit their website http://sharemuseumseast.org.uk/


http://www.broxbourne.gov.uk/

And thank you to King Street Images ( http://kingstreetimages.com) for the fantastic film.

Takeover Day 2014

Takeover Day is an annual day on which museums, galleries and historic homes invite children and young people in and give them a meaningful role. Children are in charge, making decisions and participating fully in the life of the museum. Young people have a say and contribute to the work of the museum. All of which is supported by Kids in Museums. To find out more about Kids in Museums or Takeover day visit their website http://kidsinmuseums.org.uk/takeoverday/

This year our Takeover Day took place at Lowewood Museum. 11 students from The Broxbourne School came in and took over our roles in the education, marketing and exhibition teams. They created an exhibition, produced marketing material to promote their day and developed and led school and public activity sessions.

Here are some photos and quotes from the day – everyone had a fantastic time!

Photographs taken by Melissa Page. http://www.melissapage.co.uk

Meet the Team – Education and Outreach Officer

cath photo

Name
Catherine Hammond

Job title
Education and Outreach Officer

Describe a typical working day at Epping Forest District and Lowewood Museums
There’s rarely a typical day – each one can be so varied! For example, one day I spent the morning running a toddler group singing nursery rhymes and making sheep puppets, in the afternoon I delivered a workshop on the Second World War to a group of secondary school pupils, then in the evening I ran a training session on Prehistory for a group of Primary school teachers.

What is your favourite thing about working at the Museum?
Thankfully, it’s the variety my job offers!

Share one piece of advice for those interested in working in the Museum field.
Be prepared to do anything, and most especially enjoy working with people.

Which historical figure would you like to meet and why. What would you ask them?
Probably Henry VIII – I’d really like to try and talk him out of dissolving the monasteries.

Where would you choose to go/visit if you could go anywhere in the world for a day?
Tough one – if it didn’t take a day to get there and back, it would probably be Stokes Bay, Kangaroo Island, Australia.

What was the first music track or album you bought?
Double Dutch, by Malcolm McLaren