A museum in the classroom: Learning history from objects

Primary History article

By Glória Solé, published 10th October 2012

A museum in the classroom: Learning history from objects

I teach history education at the University of Minho, in Portugal. The writing of English researchers about the role of objects and of class museums in teaching history to young children inspired me to undertake similar research in Portugal, which is outlined in this article.

Several researchers have highlighted the relevance of using and exploring objects to analyse children´s historical understanding. The following studies recommend that young children use objects in the classroom because they encourage active learning in history (Hawkes 1996; Cooper 1995; Hoodless 1996; Nulty 1998, Vella 2001; Solé, 2009). The studies show that the use of objects in the classroom encourages problem-solving and promotes language development by introducing new vocabulary. Objects help children to generate ideas and hypotheses, to observe accurately, present further explanation and to ask questions. Handling and observing objects in the classroom is also motivating, since it allows children to understand the past in an interesting way. This strategy certainly improves children's historical thinking...

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