Visiting Museums at Home and in Classrooms

By Maldonado, Nancy S.; Winick, Mariann P. | Childhood Education, Spring 2005 | Go to article overview

Visiting Museums at Home and in Classrooms


Maldonado, Nancy S., Winick, Mariann P., Childhood Education


Time is a critical factor in our lives. While teachers, although hard-pressed, are able to fit the daily curriculum into the hours allotted for the school day, their own learning needs are all too often put aside. It would seem that trips that once refreshed and energized are a thing of the past as lack of time, increased costs, frozen salaries, and anxiety related to travel loom large. This column will bring to viewers experiences that enrich and inform at very minimal cost by centering on museums. Museums around the world can be visited through videos and DVDs.

Museums are not simply repositories for materials from the past. They are living, exciting laboratories that stimulate thought, imagination, and actions. Taking the time to take a virtual trip is an investment worth making, providing viewers with the groundwork for inquiry, interpretation, and reflection--all constructs of teaching. Many museums offer resources to schools and teachers through their education departments that are incomparable and available on request.

Enriching Children's Classroom Experiences

ERIC CARLE: Picture Writer. VHS 27 min. Museum Shop, 125 West Bay Road, Amherst, MA 01002. Young viewers, teachers, and parents can explore the new Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, Massachusetts. On this award-winning video, Eric Carle, noted children's book author and illustrator, is seen creating artwork for several of his books. His collage work is beautiful and inspiring. Visual lessons in technique focus on the artist's precision in slicing and cutting colored-paper strips and charcoal etchings of The Very Hungry Caterpillar and other favorite characters. Viewers can relate to Carle's books in new ways as he tells personal stories and reveals that "picture making is my joy." A must-see for all early childhood personnel and children.

Extensions: Follow up with an Eric Carle picture book series. Prepare a bibliography to share with parents. Class discussions can center on story making; researching a particular animal, insect, or bird; and "making a story." Other extensions include developing class storyboards, making tissue paper collages, and making collages from magazine illustrations.

PLEASE DON'T EAT THE PICTURES. 1987. VHS 60 minutes. Previously reviewed, Childhood Education, 2004, Vol. 80(5), p. 286. THE HIDEAWAYS (FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER). 1972. 105 minutes. VHS Time Warner Productions, Burbank, CA 91522.

FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER. 2000. 92 minutes. DVD Pioneer Video. Two versions in different formats are available of the popular Newbery Award winner, The Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E. L. Konigsburg. The video is truer to the book than is the DVD version. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City takes center stage when Claudia decides to run away, taking her younger brother with her. Their adventures in the museum allow viewers to see impressive works of art, including artifacts from ancient Egypt, the armor collection, and other masterpieces. The children's imagination and resourcefulness will resonate with elementary school level viewers. Claudia becomes obsessed with verifying a Michelangelo angel sculpture, which leads them to Mrs. Frankweiler. The children learn lessons that will serve them throughout their lives. This is an excellent family film and merits a "special occasion" school viewing.

Extensions: Read the book as a class chapter treat and/or independently. The story can inspire discussions of family life, running away, and sibling relationships. A class could conduct research related to artist's marks and signatures or pick an artist of the month and research that artist's life and works. Children could even design their own museum, making shoebox galleries.

Extending Teachers'/ Parents' Horizons

CITIZEN BARNES: An American Dream. 1993. 57 min. VHS. …

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