Education Programming Blog
Kids Say the Darndest Things
Angela Hullin, Education Program Coordinator
Now that the 2019 Holiday Memories exhibit is just a memory, our museum halls, galleries, and classroom are once again filled with students 2-3 days a week. In January and the first week of February, we have welcomed eleven different schools (about 450 students) to spend a full day learning about the Native American History of Sheboygan County and Wisconsin, as well as The Civil War and Sheboygan County.
The most popular comment we hear upon the students’ arrival is, “Oh, I remember this place!” Then the child will turn to their nearest peer and start excitedly reminiscing. “Do you remember when we…?” Each child has a different activity that stands out in their memory. Do you remember when we chopped firewood? Do you remember when we learned about the ships that sank in Lake Michigan? Do you remember when we carved a wooden nail or made a beeswax candle or played with that spinny toy?
They cannot wait to see what the new day of learning has in store for them, and their excitement is contagious. (Not to mention the other contagious things they bring with them at this time of year!)
The full day of hands-on learning is made possible thanks to the help of a dedicated corps of education program volunteers. The group consists of retired educators—some who brought their own students to the programs when they were still teaching—as well as a large portion who never taught before but have a strong interest in sharing Sheboygan County’s history with the next generation.
Every so often, one of our volunteers will share with me something a student said in the course of experiencing hands-on history.
Here are some of my favorite stories:
- A second grader was intrigued by the photograph of Karoline Weinhold in the 1860s log cabin. When the docent explained that the photo was taken after her death, he remarked, “That’s kind of creepy and kind of awesome at the same time.”
- A student was celebrating the fact that his class didn’t have to do math today. I pointed out that they had done math when we talked about the weight of a gallon of water, and two gallons of water, and ten gallons of water. He responded, “Yeah, but the math we did here is actually fun!”
- After a facilitator described how different life would be without indoor plumbing, one second-grade girl remarked, “Oh, I think I would pass on that.”
- At the beaded bracelet station, a fourth grader was looking apprehensively at the next station, where his classmates were carrying the baby doll in the cradleboard. He remarked, “I think when I get there I’m going to tell her I’m not ready for parenthood!”
Even after the students have left for the day, we know this will not be the last we’ll see of them. 96% of 2nd-5th grade classes in Sheboygan Area School District visit the museum, thanks in large part to the commitment the district has made to paying the admission fee for every student in those grades. Students also receive a pass that gives free admission to the child and an adult so they may return to the museum later that year. During Holiday Memories, when we have a number of high school student musicians and volunteers, many of them mention their memories of coming to the museum “as kids.”
The staff and volunteers always enjoy notes students write as a follow-up to their museum visit. In particular, we liked this gem from a fourth grader at Wilson: “Thanks to all of you, it was better than video games!”
In addition to maintaining our strong lineup of full-day education programs for grades 2-5, the next step for the museum’s education program is developing a middle-school level lesson. With the support of two Sheboygan Area School District social studies teachers, Mary Wenninger and Tom Thorpe, our goal is to develop a multi-hour lesson about how Sheboygan County fared during the Industrial Age. Hopefully, this newest programming will also end up being “better than video games.”