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No, this isn’t an early Hallowe’en post.

THIS is The Beast:

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Okay, so it’s a friendly Beast, aka our Voyageur Canoe, a 33-foot, 450+lb, fiberglass-and-wood canoe designed and painted to look like the birch-bark canoes used during the fur trade.  It earns its nickname not only for its weight but for the fact that any time we want to use it, we have to herd up a bunch of staff and volunteers to dismantle it into two (still beastly heavy) sections, load it onto two trailers, arrange for people with hitches to bring their cars, schlep the trailers and our staff/volunteers to the put-in, and then haul it off the trailers and reconstruct it in situ, which is always reminds why IKEA doesn’t make 500lb bookshelves.  You just have to laugh, really, at how unbirchbark-ish our Voyageur Canoe actually is.

But, don’t get me wrong: I love the beast, and I’m forever grateful that its builder, Jim Holman, generously donated his craft to us after its illustrious reenactment career with the Red House Brigade. Because THIS is also the beast, in action:

2.1.1.2.12 VOYAGEUR CANOE 2

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Paddles straight up in N.Canoe group shot

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Fun even on the grass

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A gazillion times a day, this is how it goes:

“Education Coordinator, Karen Taylor speaking…”

“Yes, hello, I’m just wondering if I could bring my students (scouts, guides, youth group) for a tour.”

“No.”

Okay, I don’t really just say NO.  I do have some people skills.  But that is my answer in a nutshell, because I know that when we get your 28 grade 2s – or your 11 Guides or your 17 at-risk youth – into the Museum,  the worst move is to herd ’em up and lead the pack through our exhibits, even though there’s fascinating stuff to talk about and just about any one of us here could go on for hours about it all, passionately, adding the behind-the-scenes stories and more historical context to the wealth of information already in our displays.

Instead, when you call, I’m going to nudge you to toss that idea of a How-to-Visit-a-Museum out the window, and sign your kids up for an experience, for learning-by-doing, for one of our many education programs that aim to take kids to that the edge of their comfort zone where learning happens, and where learning lasts. “Experiential education” can take a lot of forms around here: role plays, a new hands-on skill, artistic expression, games,  but this is what it has looked like in the past couple of weeks. Doesn’t it look fun?! Read the rest of this entry »