In our partnership with Leeds Museums and Galleries, our Trainees have thoroughly enjoyed their experiences provided by the educational team at their sites. Kate Fellows, Head of Learning and Access, discusses the importance of object based learning for pupils and how to use objects effectively.

Some of our objects are very old, some relatively new. Some objects have stories, others we know nothing about. We ask questions and talk about how you might use objects in your classrooms. We bring our own experiences to our shared learning and can make complex or theoretical concepts real for pupils.

You can begin with a series of questions:

  • What do you want to know about the object?
  • How would you find out the answer (without using the internet)?
  • How did the object get here?
  • Join with another group, what’s the connection between your objects?
  • How would you use those objects in the classroom?

These will work with any object, real or replica, museum or otherwise. If you are using the object as evidence, it will start a child or enquiry led learning approach which will enable them to make their own connections and meaning, forming stronger learning bonds. In your planning, anticipate what questions you would ask, and what questions you want your pupils to come up with, then whether you have scaffolded their learning to enfranchise them to ask those questions.

You can use objects in a pastoral sense, to get to know your pupils, like building a mini museum. You could use the process to teach about scientific process, experimentation and evaluation – how to form and answer good questions. You can use objects to talk about real life stories and challenges, to inspire, or to create new stories.

Objects don’t have to be museum objects. You can use anything physical that you think will convey your learning point, or promote discussion and debate.

Holding and touching objects is key to how object based learning works. In a COVID-19 world, handling objects in the classroom might make you nervous at the moment. There are ways of making object handling work even now. Washing hands before and after, using washable cotton gloves, only handling in bubble groups, leaving objects 72hrs between groups, and cleaning objects (as long as they aren’t museum objects!) Or, if you are still concerned, placing untouchable objects on tables, or show things at the front. Nothing is insurmountable.

Take a look at what else we incorporate into our teacher training programme

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