Thursday, 17 July 2014

Developing New Outreach sessions: Summer Reading Challenge, "Mythical Maze" - Rachel McLaughlin

Every summer, the Summer Reading Challenge encourages children aged four to eleven to read 6 books of their own choice over the summer holidays. This year the theme is “Mythical Maze” and Oxford University Museums and Collections Outreach are putting on a series of events in libraries around Oxfordshire as part of this event. Over the last few weeks, I have been developing the session plan to be run every day over two weeks in August. We will be taking museum objects out into libraries around the county and involving them in storytelling to link to the challenge.

These sessions are particularly aimed at 5-10 year olds and will involve a story based round the theme of “mythical maze” that includes 5 museum objects – one from each of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the Pitt Rivers, the Ashmolean, the Botanic Garden and the Museum of the History of Science.

Writing a story from scratch was harder than I expected it to be. I have previously told stories, but I’ve always learnt from other people telling them. To prepare, I researched mazes and labyrinths, looked at Greek myths, and even learnt how to draw a labyrinth from memory. This led to some very over-complicated story ideas! Finally, I decided that basing it around a dragon (one of the main characters in the Mythical Maze) was a good starting point, so dragons are our main theme.

This is a great opportunity to get museum objects out into places where they wouldn’t normally be seen, and to introduce the public to the museums in a very friendly way. The events are all about talking to people and letting them have fun. 

Over the fortnight of events, I will begin by observing some sessions and learning how they’re run, and by the end I will be running some of them myself. I am very much looking forward to learning how to run these sessions and getting out and about to libraries around Oxfordshire this summer.

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