Museums bring up images of Indiana Jones and Warehouse 13; but museums are rarely that exciting. They tend to be places where you can look at really old stuff. So, how do you get kids excited about looking at a pot that is over 400 years old?The concept of time, for little kids, is something that can be confusing. I loved watching the Fraggles as a kid. But I was always shocked when I found them on TV. I did not really understand that concept of time and schedules, so it was like magic when found the show on TV. For me it had nothing to do with HBO having a programing schedule, or that they repeated at certain times, the TV was a magic box that if I hoped enough what I wanted to see would appear on the TV.
As I prepare for programs, I get to know the material and some of the little details that will add to the fun of the subject, but nothing prepares you for the blank stare you get when you try to explain that something is 400 years old. When I show the kids something that is old it does not have the same impact for a 7 year old as it would for an adult. They look at everything through the same eyes; the Lego set they just got at Walmart is just as mysterious as the bark container in the museum. It is all new to them, and they look at those things with a blank slate.
I can only imagine how time is even more abstract for kids today. With information being available at any time thanks to streaming sites like Netflix and …. So back to my original question, how do you get a 7 year old to understand that something is 400 years old and important? As a teacher, you have to find the hook that will grab their attention; the little details that will help them remember the experience. Sometimes it is an anecdote they can relate to, sometimes it is giving their other senses something to remember, and at times it can be just something that comes to you in a moment.
I can only hope as the little ones get back on the bus to school, what I showed them today will stick and add to what they are learning about in school.