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Using objects - level 2

Family treasures and artefacts represent who students are, where they have come from, or how they identify themselves. Family memories can be evoked by an object, and those associated memories can be easily transported to a new country.

"Making students’ own lives a point of comparison supports access to new learning."

– Best Evidence Synthesis in Social Sciences, Connections

Key competencies

Participating and contributing: children add individual thoughts and experiences to a common body of knowledge. They become part of a group of learners who are exploring together.

Building conceptual understandings

Students are beginning to see the need to celebrate and retain traditions. They interpret objects as a physical representation of concepts. Understanding is developed through their own and others' stories.

Image (right): 'Playingwithbrushes', sourced from Flickr

Formative assessment opportunity

Look for students’ understanding of concepts through questioning and presentations. Can students make links between objects and the celebrations they represent?

Gathering, exploring and interpreting

Brainstorm questions that will provide information about the students’ families. Record and display these questions.

These could include:

  • What is the size of your family?
  • Who lives with you?
  • Where were the members of your family born?
  • Where do you live?
  • What does your family like to eat?
  • What do you do to relax and have fun?
  • What are family celebrations?
  • What kinds of times do your family celebrate?
  • What is important and precious to you?

With the students, create a way that this information could be gathered at home. Also ask permission for the student to bring to school a family object or photograph that is used as part of an annual family celebration. Make a discovery table with the objects displayed and create a display booklet or brochure that has the children’s writing about the significance of each item. Alternatively, children could be videoed with their item, talking about its significance, in English or in a first language. That video could be running at times on the table, for parents and visitors.

Here are a couple of strategies for discussing the objects and predicting their use:

a. Pick up one of the objects and start a class discussion to help to describe the object in detail.

  • What is it made of? Do you know of anything else made of that?
  • Is it old or new?
  • Does it remind you of anything you have seen before?
  • What do you think it was/is used for?
  • How does the object make you feel?
  • Where do you think it might have come from?

This is a good time for children to touch, smell and look at the objects, categorising them according to where they think they come from, what they are made of, the size or shape.

b. Draw a diagram on the board with a representation of the object in the middle.

Ask the students what questions they would like to ask about the object. Record the questions on a piece of card, and place them next to the relevant item, repeating the process with each object.

Once all objects have been discussed, provide your students with time to reflect on the objects, their use and family history.

  • I was most interested in…
  • I didn’t know that…
  • I’d like to learn more about…
  • I don’t understand…
  • This reminded me of...
  • I wonder if...
  • What story the object would tell if it could speak...

These could also be placed near the objects, or the students could take digital photos of the objects and place them on a class blog, with the class discussion attached, and an invitation for blog readers to add any more information or to ask questions.

Create a class blog

This is a great way to share writing, photographs and relate to a worldwide audience. There are easy sites to use to set up a blog, so the students can do it themselves. Add some podcasts to share progress or ideas. Use the blog to share thought bubbles or ask questions that someone out of the school may be able to clarify.

Video blogging

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