Dispatches from the Intern

17 May

So, another week of internship comes to an end, but let’s go back in time for a minute and review last weekend’s visit to Downsview Public Library on behalf of the MIA!

As you may recall from my previous post, I was asked to conduct hands-on activities as part of the MAP Family Saturdays program that runs across Toronto Public Library branches. There were 7 kids, ranging from ages 4-12, that came by with parents in tow. To set up, I laid out various museum artifacts on a table, including a narwhal ivory tusk and the tooth of a polar bear, and I could tell by the looks on the kids’ faces, they were eager to see and feel the materials up close! Before I passed the artifacts around, I kicked things off with a little DPA (that’s Daily Physical Activity, for the non-teachers out there) and an ice breaker. It was great to see most of the parents participate as well!

After getting everyone’s heart rate going, the kids settled into a circle on the floor and I began talking about the artifacts—their composition, origin, and purpose—and one by one, the kids took turns carefully examining each piece,  making great observations about each artifact, and drawing comparisons between daily life in the Arctic and their own personal lives.

Next, it was time to get their hands a little dirty and move onto art making! I brought along some plasticine and modelled how to create an inuksuk (plural: inuksuit; generally written as inukshuk to reflect its English pronunciation), which are human-made stone formations found throughout the Arctic.

Inuksuit on Baffin Island, Nunavut

By now, most people are familiar with this iconic symbol, but many are unfamiliar with its traditional origin and meaning. Acting in the place of a person, the inuksuk can serve many purposes; it is often used in navigation and hunting, and has played a crucial role in Inuit survival on the land. Inuksuit are commonly created in the shape of a person (accurately called innunguaq) and provided the basis for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics logo! Suffice to say, the kids really enjoyed creating their own version of an inuksuk, and some even went as far as giving it a name and a personal story. Very imaginative!

My on-site tasks during week 3 included devising a lesson plan based on the curriculum for the Grade 10 Native Studies course, Aboriginal Peoples in Canada, and creating additional  materials for classroom use. In order to facilitate all of the visual arts lessons, I’ve begun creating slideshows featuring pieces from the museum’s permanent collection and gallery. I think these slideshows could provide teachers with an excellent starting point for their lessons and help develop students’ critical analysis and interpretation skills.

It looks like next week’s plate is rather full, but I’m looking forward to it!

Happy long weekend!

- Posted by: Aviva German, MIA’s Educational Intern

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