Thursday, 10 July 2014

Alice's Day Schools event at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History - Aisling Serrant

Last Saturday was Alice’s Day in Oxford with lots of activities around the city. The theme was ‘Alice’s Adventures Underground’ which was the book’s original title.

The  Oxford University Museum of Natural History had plenty going on with an ‘Underground’ themed trail and object handling inside the museum, and a very interactive Alice in Wonderland play by Oxford Brookes’ Fortune Tellers out on the lawn which went down a treat with the children. I really enjoyed watching the play as it had some great examples of how to involve the audience and make them feel part of the play which is something I haven’t really seen before. We all had to follow Alice on her adventures to different areas of the lawn. When she fell down the rabbit hole we had to run under a sheet of black material and when the cards were painting the Queen of Heart’s roses red, the children all got given red colouring pencils to help colour them in.

On the Friday I helped run an Alice’s Day schools event at the museum. There were 60 Yr4 students who were split into 3 groups of 20. There were 3 main activities for the children to take part in, an ‘underground’ spy trail and craft activity led by education officers Simone and Rachel, and an object handling session led by me. 

I was really excited to be given the opportunity to run the session as it was the first teaching I have done on my traineeship. It was in the form of 3 back-to-back 30 minute handling sessions which I led completely on my own in a separate area of the museum from the other activities. I used various animals which feature as characters in the story – a cast of the dodo head, a dormouse and hare taxidermy specimens, a caterpillar, some butterflies and a flamingo skull. 

All in all I was pleased with how I did. I found it very helpful to be able to repeat the activity 3 times in the same day as each time I grew more confident and able to tweak bits to make my performance better each time. By the last session I felt comfortable being able to teach about the objects and hold the attention of the group. The only real problem I found was that I couldn’t answer some of the specific questions the groups asked, for example how many eggs butterflies lay, because I don’t yet have enough knowledge about Natural History. I guess I’ve got some homework to do!

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