(Original Post: October 17, 2021)
This was an adventure for the books! It was a two-month long collaboration that culminated in a museum walk of artifacts created by Division 2 & 3 (Grade 4/5) during their exploration of Canadian Immigration.
There were many lessons, books, and activities that occurred during classroom time, I’ve only documented the parts I was involved in below
The teachers and I started the unit off by presenting a short dramatic piece for the students. We collected an assortment of artefacts representing Immigration which would be used by the students throughout the unit.
The two teachers acted like delivery workers, walked into the library. and dumped the artefacts haphazardly in front of me and the students. I was dressed in a lab coat pretending to be a museum curator, and I lost my mind when I realized that all the objects were missing identification tags and were mixed up in boxes. I sought the students’ help in identifying the artefacts and hypothesizing their connections to immigration.
Artefacts: rope, blow up boat, soldier hat, immigration papers, Charters of Rights, shawl, potato, life jacket, sandal, railway pick, shovel, cell phone, teddy bear, religious book, fishing pole, old family photo, basket, water jug, suitcase, paddle, beaver pelt, newspaper, fishing net, mining pan
Students worked in pairs to choose an artefact and create an identification card. The artefacts were used during the following weeks as the students attempted to make connections between their artefacts and the stories they read in class.
We read Danny Ramadan’s beautiful book, Salma the Syrian Chef, and brainstormed ways Canadians, young and old, can welcome and lovingly “make room” for newcomers. The students used word bubble charts to explore the idea of “Making Room” for Canadian refugees. Then, I took all their ideas from the four charts and amalgamated them into a “Making Room” flow chart using common heading such as “education”, “jobs”, etc.
Using the lists, students brainstormed artefacts that would represent all their ideas. i.e., cell phone = maps, direction to work, finding their away around new home, etc.
Next, we read Nicola Davies' incredible book, The Day War Came, and we researched the #3000chairs project that came out of the story of the refugee child who couldn’t go to school because there wasn’t a chair for her.
It was from the #3000chairs research that we created an art installation of chairs entitled “Making Room”.
"Making Room" Art Installation
Students worked in groups to sand a wooden chair and paper-mache a maple tree branch wrapping around it. (Chairs were donated.)
The students painted the maple branches and chairs using acrylic and random leftover wall paint.
Tip: Paint outside and wear smocks!
Each group chose three artefacts that represented the concept of making room for Canadian refugees to them. The artefacts were the ones brainstormed from the original list (see above). They brought these items from home or created them during class.
The artefacts and maple leaves were attached to the branches/chairs using wire or hot glue. Groups wrote an explanation of the artefacts that was placed on the seats of the chairs.
It was truly a celebration of learning as we used the chairs, original artefacts, and student classwork projects to create a museum in the gym for the school to enjoy.