Today’s post about a new activity for school-age visitors comes from Education and Public Programs intern Elise Paisant.
Are you looking for a hands-on educational activity for your students to do while visiting the National Archives in Washington, DC?
Our new gallery packs, designed with students and families in mind, provide activities for each of our permanent museum exhibits. Students can even wear an archivist’s stack coat to complete their experience!
Groups of students, led by a chaperone, can use the packs to explore the museum and learn about the National Archives and the records we hold. Students will walk away with a stronger understanding of why we preserve Government records for the American people, and of our country’s formation.
Using the gallery packs, students will practice three main skills: observation, document analysis, and critical thinking.
The activities in the packs require students to look closely at our permanent exhibits and analyze for themselves the primary source documents that they see.
Each exhibit has multiple activities designed to engage students in hands-on learning. The activities in each pack include:
- “Kids in the Archives” in the Record of Rights exhibit: Analyze primary sources from or about kids and reflect on how those documents influenced America.
- “Kids in the Archives” in the Public Vaults exhibit: Analyze documents connected to kids and reflect on their impact.
- Public Vaults Image Search: Use small detailed cropped segments of larger images to find the complete versions.
- “Constitutional Quest” in the Public Vaults: Determine which primary source best matches up with parts of the Constitution’s preamble, then identify items from students’ own lives that also fit the theme.
- Faulkner Murals in the Rotunda: Learn about a few of the men involved with the creation of the Declaration and Constitution.
- “Parchment and the Big Three” in the Rotunda: Learn about the materials that our founding documents were written on and how they are preserved at the National Archives.
- Letter to the President in the Public Vaults: Examine letters to the President and write a letter on provided National Archives stationary to take home and mail.
- Museum Manners Guide: Learn and practice great museum behavior while looking for related documents in our exhibit spaces.
While some activities appear oriented for older students, most can be modified to accommodate younger students.
Your students can begin their archival adventure today using our gallery packs! Pick them up in our Boeing Learning Center, open Monday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A group chaperone must provide a driver’s license in order to check them out.