Welcome to the latest instalment of the blog series by our intern Isabelle. Last week she summarized a few of the stories that will be told in the education kit she’s been working on. This week she’s discussing one of the ways we’ll be sharing the stories with students. 

Using Objects to Tell Stories

Physical objects are key components of an education kit. As I mentioned in my blog post about asking questions, a successful museum education program includes object-based activities. Young learners engage especially well with tactile learning, and examining a physical object is a key activity when introducing new stories.

In some ways, 3-D objects make history seem more “real” because they are tangible proof of the past. Students can also make personal connections to objects that are familiar to them, allowing them to connect empathetically with the historical people who used them.

Our education kit is story-based so we want to make sure that each story has a few physical objects associated with it. 

How do we choose what objects to include in the kit? Where do we find them?  And how do we use them?

My first thought was to use objects that the newcomers would have brought with them on their journeys to BC. However, as my research progressed, I learned that the majority of the newcomers in our stories were fleeing poverty and war and brought nothing with them. I had to rethink my strategy. I started including objects that they would have had back in their home or those they would have gotten when they arrived in BC.  

Examples of objects from home:

  • Traditional Hawai’ian outrigger canoe
  • Japanese Fishing equipment
  • Mezuzah (a small scroll of Torah in a decorative case that hung on the doorpost of Jewish homes)

Examples of objects brought in luggage:

  • Medicine bottles
  • Pillows
  • Chinese good luck charms
  • Dishes and cutlery

Examples of objects acquired in B.C.:

  • Victorian-era beauty products
  • School supplies
  • Vietnamese restaurant menu
  • Soccer ball

Once I had brainstormed a list of potential objects, I had to figure out where to find them. I am still in this process, and it is proving more complicated than I had thought. While the VMM has a huge collection of artifacts, they cannot be included in outreach kits to be handled by lots of people. The other main options, then, are to make reproductions of historical artifacts, copies that can be damaged without any major issues, or to look for antiques in thrift stores and online. As my search continues, I would love to hear what objects did your family bring with them when they immigrated! Comment below to share!