Learning, Connection and Fun

@CHWKMuseum

Official Blog of the Chilliwack Museum and Archives

Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

Museum Round 2

Posted on: August 16th, 2017 by
Stephanie and I playing Mahjong in the Gold Mountain Dream exhibit.

Stephanie and I playing Mahjong in the Gold Mountain Dream exhibit.

By Kelsey Ablitt, Education Assistant

Once again, I find myself shocked that the summer is nearing its end and my time at the museum is coming to an end. This summer, I was given the opportunity to work at the museum as a summer student for a second year. Last summer was a major learning curve, as I was newer to the museum and how it worked. This year, I was familiar with the place and the staff, creating a comfortable environment to jump right in!

May was an exciting and busy month as we celebrated the 60th anniversary of the historical society and hosted the British Columbia Historical Federation Conference. During the conference, I had the opportunity to go on a Hops Tour. Learning about a major industry for both Chilliwack’s past and present was an exciting experience. We toured hop fields that had been used decades ago when hops were a booming industry in Chilliwack.

One of my favourite things from this summer was our Cardboard City, held in the Chambers Gallery. After mapping out a section of the downtown area, we used larger cardboard to create the blocks. Once we had our blocks and streets mapped out, we decided to add a few historic buildings such as the museum, the British Columbia Electric Railway Station, the Paramount and a few historic hotels. Once this basic outline of “Chilliwhack” (our unofficial name for the cardboard city) was complete, we opened our city up for construction for two weeks. Within the first day we saw a great turn out, new buildings such as Sticky’s Candy and the Book Man were added. Over the course of the two weeks, members of the community continued to take part and add to Chilliwhack. By the end, our city limits were jam packed with various buildings, vehicles, people, even piper-cleaner powerlines and Cultus Lake. Cardboard City was one of the projects I was most excited for this summer, and I am beyond happy with how successful it was!

Overhead view of Cardboard City.

Overhead view of Cardboard City.

Having built a strong connection with the museum, I’ve learned more about Chilliwack’s history. Whenever I drive around town, I think of all the random facts I know about the various places in the community. As sad as I am to be leaving in a few weeks, I cannot help but look forward to working along side the archives and Stephanie, the Education and Engagement Coordinator, this fall as I will be creating a local history kit for my directed studies course. If I had not built strong connections at the museum, I may not have had the opportunity to combine my love of local history and education. I’ve had amazing experiences these last two summers and I cannot wait to see what opportunities will continue to come from having worked here.

Something Completely Different

Posted on: July 19th, 2017 by

And now for something completely different!

One of the things I most love about running summer family drop-ins is the flexibility they offer visiting families. It’s interesting watching a simple concept we decide to focus on for a week become something completely different when the variety of voices that join in change and adapt it.

Cardboard Chilliwack Museum.

Cardboard Chilliwack Museum.

For the past two weeks we took over our upstairs programming room (we call it the Chambers Gallery as it’s the room where city council used to sit when this building was city hall) and transformed it into a cardboard City of Chilliwack. It was a simple idea, we’d map out an area around five corners, including some of the historic buildings in (roughly) the correct space. The rest we’d leave open, setting up tables of craft supplies for inspiration and creation stations for our visiting city builders.

Sometimes all you need to do is provide a small spark for inspiration and the creativity follows. We didn’t try to create an accurate representation of five corners from any one era, but let our city builders (visiting families and children) decide what the city needed. Some of the buildings were recognizable, staples of downtown like The Bookman, complete with Nietzsche watching in the window, Sticky’s candy and even a “Boozeny’s” (Bozzini’s). But other additions were wishful like the two cupcake factories that popped up and the house that opened up to the front door of Sticky’s. By the end of the two weeks of cardboard city we had connected (pipecleaner) power, streets filled with interesting businesses and people scattered throughout.

Is this all silliness?

Well yes, but maybe not all silliness. This is an informal learning environment – we had an idea of what might be learned from co-creating a cardboard city with our visitors, but there was lots of room for new discoveries. Not only did our visitors pick up on the few historic buildings we put in place beforehand and wonder about their history, but they were inspired to add something that they wanted to see in the city too. Ok, so maybe two cupcake factories is a little unrealistic, but what if we were inspired by our (real) city in the same way our visitors were by the cardboard city?

Cardboard BC Electric Railway Station.

Cardboard BC Electric Railway Station.

As our cardboard city grew and changed over the two weeks it was interesting to hear some of the conversations it sparked and listen to the enthusiasm of visitors. I’ll leave you with the words of one of our more reluctant city builders when he first saw the city, “Ok, this is pretty cool.”

 

While cardboard city may be over, we’re still offering a great line-up of activities throughout the summer. Check out our Summer Family Drop-in schedule!

Summer Outreach and Activities

Posted on: June 14th, 2017 by

This past weekend we were at Cultus Lake for our first summer outreach event. We had a great time sharing information about the museum and archives, chatting about Cultus Lake history with visitors and playing our ‘match the date’ game with historic photographs. Its days like these that remind me how important and meaningful our work is to the community. Hearing phrases like “that was fun!”, seeing our displays spark multi-generational conversations and watching them prompt a group of long-time Cultus residents to reminisce about the past make all the office work in between worth it!

It’s been a busy spring, with hosting the BCHF Conference and our 60th Anniversary celebration this May, but we’re not slowing down for summer!

What’s On

Our tent at Cultus Lake Day 2017

Our tent at Cultus Lake Day 2017

In addition to heading out to events like Canada Day, Party in the Park and the Garrison Village Festival, we’ll be hosting a number of events and activities here in the museum.

Author Shelley O’Callaghan will be here on June 22nd for a talk on her book How Deep is the Lake: A Century at Chilliwack Lake. We’re also opening a new exhibit Gold Mountain Dream on June 29th which we are in the midst of installing as I type!

For July and August we’re hosting Family Drop-in Activities on Tuesdays and Thursdays focusing on a different theme and activity each week. From July 3-14 we’ll be building a miniature cardboard Five Corners in the Chambers Gallery. Young and old alike are invited to come add your own buildings, cars, trees etc. to the landscape throughout the two weeks!

On July 15th, storyteller Shayna Jones will be joining us for a morning performance for families and we’ll be offering a special puppet making workshop after the performance.

 

We’re always working hard to share our resources with the community and to make Chilliwack’s diverse story accessible to all ages. We hope to see you over the summer either at the museum or around town at community events!

Getting ready for the 2017 BCHF Conference

Posted on: May 10th, 2017 by

Over the past 7 months I’ve been lucky to sit on the BCHF Conference Committee to help bring a fantastic lineup of lectures, field trips, and events to our community.

The BC Historical Federation was established in 1922 and acts as an umbrella association for historical societies in British Columbia. As the BCHF conference hosts for 2017, the Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society has been organizing tours and lectures which highlight our local history. Having been able to sit on the organizing committee since the start, I’ve seen firsthand how difficult it has been to cut down the options for tours and lectures for just 4 days of programming. Chilliwack has such a wealth of historical sites and information to share!

BCHF conference tours include a trip to the New Siberia Farm, a 92 year old farm!

BCHF conference tours include a trip to the New Siberia Farm, a 92 year old farm!

That being said, we have been able to put together a fantastic lineup that really showcases the diversity of our area and highlights the importance of preserving and caring for our history today. This is a 4 day festival of history that is accessible and open to everyone, not just those working in the field.

What can you expect?

Whether you’re new to Chilliwack or have lived here all your life, there’s something new for you to explore. The lineup includes workshops, lectures, field trips and evening presentations around the conference theme of “Land, Water, People”. For example:

  • Learn how to take care of your family artifacts, photographs and personal papers with accomplished family historians Brenda L. Smith and Diane Rogers. Get behind the scenes tours of the Chilliwack Archives and learn more about the work of the archives at our Archives Bootcamp.
  • Join for lectures by experts in their fields. Topics range from ‘Flood Management’, ‘Modern Treaties and Reconciliation’ to ‘Finding Chilliwack’s Fallen’, addressing our past, current, and future relationship with the land, water, and people of Chilliwack.
  • Hop on a bus and explore sites around Chilliwack, including tours to local hop and dairy farms, Stó:lō nation, historic river boat landings, and more!

Conference registration is open to all. Sign up for the full 4 days, 1 day packagesindividual event tickets, or workshops. If you’re a Chilliwack Museum and Historical Society member, don’t forget you receive BCHF Member pricing for the conference!

See you May 25-28!

Looking Together – Visiting the Museum with a Multigenerational Group

Posted on: April 5th, 2017 by

Over the two weeks of Spring Break this year we welcomed all kinds of multi-generational groups to our museum and had a great time sharing with first-time visitors and long-time members what we have to offer our community. Groups came in all different shapes and sizes, from children visiting with their grandparents to caregivers with children aging from babies to teens.

Updated Discovery Hunts are available daily for all ages.

Updated Discovery Hunts are available daily for all ages.

Whereas some embrace visiting museums with a multi-generational group, it can sometimes be difficult keeping the youngest in your group engaged at the same time as the older ones. So how do we ‘Look Together’ when visiting a museum so that the trip is a fun, meaningful and engaging experience for everyone? For this blog post, I thought I’d share a few tips and tricks that you can use on your next trip to the museum!

Prepping for your visit – Before:

  • Find out your groups prior knowledge of the museum. Does someone in your group have a favourite memory of a previous visit? Have them share this memory with the rest of the group.
  • For first time visitors ask questions like: What is a museum? What can we see and do at the museum? Why do we have museums? Make connections with life at home – is there a place where you keep special objects from your past? Why are they important to you?
  • Come prepared: bring cameras, notebooks, pencils, and magnifying glasses to help you explore the exhibits and record your memories!

During your visit:

  • Talk to staff: Check in with the staff at the front desk to find out if there are any special activities to take part in. At the Chilliwack Museum we always have Discovery Hunts geared to two different age ranges, as well as our hands-on Discovery Bins available daily. These are fun for kids and adults!
  • Make comparisons: compare what you see in the exhibits to present day life in Chilliwack, what is the same and what is different? Does anyone in your group have memories they can share of a different time in Chilliwack’s history?
  • Play some Games! Ask someone in your group to tell a story about an object in an exhibit; Play I Spy to encourage everyone to look a little closer at what they see; Try ‘Tell me How or Why’ find an object and see if you can find out how it was made or why it was made.
  • Don’t forget to explore the site! Look closely at the architecture of the building, what is the same or different about buildings today?

After the visit:

  • Talk about your visit – What was your favourite part? If you were to share one thing about the museum with someone else what would it be?
  • Is there anything you are still wondering about? Pursue topics that interest your group further by looking online (our online collections can be accessed here) or by visiting the archives.
  • Give us your feedback as to what you’d like to see or do at the museum in the future!
  • Follow us on social media to keep up with our events and activities or check the Events Calendar.
  • Use your museum experience to create your own museum exhibit at home. Start a collection of favourite objects at home and put them together into an exhibit to share with friends and family!

I hope this gives you some inspiration for your next visit to the museum. We’re looking forward to welcoming groups of all ages to the museum as we gear up for our summer programming!

Looking Forward to 2017

Posted on: December 20th, 2016 by

This past year has been jam packed with Education and Engagement projects. We’ve taken the museum out to events like Canada Day and Party in the Park and updated our hands-on Discovery Bins for children. We’ve been working with School District 33 to create local history kits and completed our first kit on Chilliwack’s Chinatowns. We’ve also updated our school programs to fit with the new BC Curriculum and hosted a number of speakers and events in the museum.

So what’s in store for 2017?

We’re working on developing a new Archives based program for Middle and High School students. This program will focus on introducing students to the archives and how to access and interpret primary sources.

Continuing to work on local history kits with the school district, we are currently focusing on developing resources on the floods of both 1894 and 1948 in the Fraser Valley.

This past fall we’ve been working with a group of Grade 6 students on an education project based on our current exhibit Photography from Obscura to App. Starting on February 9th we will be exhibiting students’ photographs at the museum. These will be on display until June 11th when Photography from Obscura to App closes.

As the host organization for the BC Historical Federation conference in May we are helping to plan a series of interesting workshops, field trips and lectures that will highlight our city and its diverse history.

As the year progresses we’ll be looking to continue scheduling events and activities for all ages. Don’t forget to check our Events Calendar or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to find out what’s happening at the museum!

See you in 2017!

Introducing our first Local History Kit – Chilliwack’s Chinatowns!

Posted on: November 17th, 2016 by

I have been working on developing local history resources with an amazing team of SD33 teachers this past year. I am excited to announce that our first kit on Chilliwack’s Chinatowns is now ready for teachers and educators to book!

The Local History Kits came about through collaboration between the Chilliwack Museum and Archives and the Chilliwack School District. When reviewing the redesigned curriculum, the focus on local content and place-based learning created the perfect opportunity to use the resources that already exist at our museum and archives, and get them in the hands of students!

Chilliwack's Chinatowns Kit

The Chilliwack’s Chinatowns Kit comes with primary source reproductions, posters and a teacher guidebook.

The partnership involved a team of teachers across different grades to tap into the resources and connect them in a meaningful way to the new curriculum. The kit includes lessons and activities that are designed to address Big Ideas, Curricular Competencies and Content in a variety of subjects and grades. The aim is that when teachers use this kit in their classroom, students will be developing critical thinking skills while using meaningful, relevant, local materials.

Kits come with primary source reproductions relating to each specific topic, background information, timelines and supplementary materials needed to teach each lesson. They are now available to book here for $15/week or, if you are a SD33 teacher, you can contact the school district office to book the SD33 copy.

We are looking forward to receiving feedback from teachers to help us improve these kits and make them as student and teacher friendly as possible!

Having completed the kit on Chilliwack’s Chinatowns, we are now working on gathering resources on Flooding in Chilliwack, focusing on the 1894 and 1948 floods. As well, we are developing a kit for Grade 7 classes on key developments in our local community. Stay tuned to find out when these kits will be available!

Have questions about the kits or would like to book? You can contact me directly at [email protected]

Back to School

Posted on: September 6th, 2016 by

Students of all ages have been packing up their school bags and heading out to school this week. This past month we’ve been getting ready for the school year as well by reviewing and updating our school programs. We offer programs with a local history twist that align with the BC Curriculum. If you’ve been booking with us for years or are new to the Chilliwack Museum and Archives school programs, we have some updates for you!

New this year:

Learning about changes in Technology over time with our Techno Quilt program.

Learning about changes in Technology over time with our Techno Quilt program.

Our Five Corners program has been adapted to fit with the Grade 1 and 2 Socials Curriculum and expanded to include more communities in Chilliwack. This program is now named ‘My Community’. When booking, teachers may choose a community focus for the presentation, Five Corners and Yarrow are currently available. We will be updating with more options as the school year progresses.

Our Full Steam Ahead program for Grades 4 and 5 has been updated with a new activity to help students learn more about the Cariboo Gold Rush and its impact on our own community.

Guided Exhibit Tours are available for all grades when our new temporary exhibit, Photography from Obscura to App, opens. As well, Guided Walking Tours of downtown Chilliwack will be available in May and June of 2017.

From October – May we will be offering a program for Grades 4+ based on our current exhibit, Photography from Obscura to App. This program takes students on a journey through the changes in photography over time and includes a hands-on activity.

Book online and learn more about our programs here.

Is there a specific local history topic you are interested in exploring with your students? You can always contact me with your questions or program requests at [email protected]

We’re looking forward to the 2016-2017 school year!

Summer at the Museum

Posted on: August 17th, 2016 by

By Kelsey Ablitt, Education and Engagement Assistant, Summer 2016

Its almost difficult to grasp that my time at the museum is coming to an end in just two short weeks. These past few months have been filled with new experiences and a lot of learning. I learned about the work that goes into running a museum, how to research at the archives, what education at a museum looks like, that elastic bands can be kept in the fridge and the best way to get a dew worm to move in a race.

 

Busy at Party in the Park, the theme was Community of Villages this week.

Busy at Party in the Park, the theme was Community of Villages this week.

One of my biggest projects this summer was to revamp the Discovery Bins. These bins were designed to be themed and filled with interactive things for children to play with. Initially, I didn’t think that sprucing up these bins would take nearly as much time or work as they ended up taking. As I took a look at the different material in them, I found myself coming up with new themes to organize them into, different artifacts to add to them and new interactive worksheets to make for them. This was easily my biggest and most time consuming task of the summer, however I can’t help but feel accomplished when I see kids enjoying the history and artifacts that the bins provide. Redoing these bins taught me about how things that may seem simple, actually had a lot of hard work put into them. Not only did I have to make sure my facts were correct and my themes relevant, I also had to constantly consider if they were kid friendly and that means being accessible to a wide age group. This means including things that toddlers or children just learning to read can interact with as well as something a bit more in-depth that will interest older children.

 

Another important aspect of my position this summer was helping with the different outreach events. Our main outreach event was Party in the Park, every Friday night in July. My job was to plan a craft for kids to do when they stopped by our booth. I desired to make the crafts relevant to the history of Chilliwack as much as I could. To do so, I chose a different theme from Chilliwack’s history to focus on for each Friday. To help share the historical love even more, I created a poster full of images and facts on the themes. I found these posters to be quite useful when kids were busy doing the crafts, as it gave parents something to read. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from outreach, its that your crafts need to be interesting but quick. There are usually lots to see and do at events like Party in the Park, therefore not only do the kids have a shorter attention span, their parent also does not want to be at the same booth for a long period of time.

 

Pretty in Pink, the things you find in a museum!

Pretty in Pink, the things you find in a museum!

In between the major tasks of this summer, my time was filled with many other little projects. I was able to sit in on meetings, give my input on the various goings on in the museum, help with school programs and much more. There was never a dull moment, I was always learning something new about the history of Chilliwack or what it takes to get a printer to print what you want (and in a timely fashion). Despite how thankful I am for all the things I have learned and the level of accomplishment I felt when finishing projects, my favourite part of the whole summer was the new friendships I have gained. The museum is filled with so many colourful and caring people, from the staff to the volunteers. I have loved getting to know the volunteers and seeing their interest in Chilliwack’s history. I have loved being able to get to know the staff and learn of the amazing things they have accomplished and all the exciting ideas they have for the museum, they are all extremely inspiring people. However, I cannot help being extremely thankful for Stephanie, she taught me something new nearly everyday and constantly encouraged me. She gave me freedom with creativity, she was extremely patient with me and was always there to give helpful input. The experience that Stephanie and the museum has provided me is something I will always be grateful for and I cannot wait to put what I have learned to use in the future.

To ‘do’ History

Posted on: July 19th, 2016 by

This past week I attended the Historical Thinking Summer Institute at the Museum of Vancouver. The course is intended for both museum professionals and teachers to explore The Big Six: Historical Thinking Concepts by Peter Seixas and Tom Morton. The book encompasses a shift in the way that museums and educators look at teaching and learning about history. In place of learning ‘the facts’ of history through textbook rote learning, students are being asked to ‘do’ history. This means actually acting as the historians themselves and constructing their understanding of history through the historical thinking concepts.

 
What are the Big Six?

Seeing historical thinking in action at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery in Steveston.

Seeing historical thinking in action at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery in Steveston.

Each of the concepts look at different aspects of constructing an history. They are Historical Significance, Evidence, Continuity and Change, Cause and Consequence, Historical Perspective and the Ethical Dimension.

 
Each concept has separate guideposts which illustrate how to work with them and also offer potential teaching strategies when approaching them with learners. All of the concepts work together to help learners begin to think like an historian. The interpretation of both primary and secondary sources (Evidence) is central to all of the concepts.

 
What does this have to do with museums?

 
Although historians and curators may use the historical thinking concepts, the process and skills that are used to put histories, exhibits together have not always been transparent. By sharing this process and helping to teach others to ‘do’ history themselves, museums and archives can open their collections to further understandings and interesting collaborations with the communities they work with.

 
Embracing the historical thinking concepts

 
This past week was filled with inspiring conversations with both museum professionals and teachers alike. The potential (and need!) for collaborations amongst teachers, museums, universities and so on stood out. We have a common interest and passion for history education and there are many ways we can better work together.

Using low-tech and hi-tech teaching strategies for an exhibit based historical thinking game!

Using low-tech and hi-tech teaching strategies for an exhibit based historical thinking game!

As part of our course, we were asked to work in groups, to come up with ideas on how to encourage and incorporate the historical thinking concepts into our practice, whether in the classroom, for a museum program or as an exhibit. Our group took a game-based approach and came up with an exhibit based game which had students thinking critically about primary sources, historical significance and perspectives.

 
There are so many great ideas and ways to bring historical thinking into museums. Leaving this course left me feeling inspired and enthusiastic to bring these ideas into my work here.

 
You can check out some of the photos and thoughts shared at this year’s institute with #HTSI2016.