Students in Keil Hileman’s classroom in Shawnee, KS, are surrounded with real artifacts rather than just textbooks to help make history lessons come alive. From a buffalo head to a piece of the Berlin Wall, students actually touch moments of the past, according to a story from KSHB Kansas City. The collection started with students bringing in items, but objects are now donated, as well.
Bringing real-world experiences into classrooms can help students connect more immediately to what they’re learning, especially around subjects like math and science. These activities enliven academic lessons, lifting academics off the written page.
Museums are crucial for this very reason, providing a chance to walk through and see relics and ancient objects. Encouraging educators and students to have historic items in schools — and creating "classroom museums," in a sense — can enrich learning opportunities. There are a number of institutions that allow educators to actually borrow artifacts for classroom use, from The Field Museum in Chicago to the University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Museum.
Placing a piece of history in students’ hands and letting them actually hold artifacts is as close to time travel as we can get today, sweeping the dust from the written record and opening a momentary window to the past.