How to take The Huge History Lesson outside the classroom

Date Posted: 30/10/2015

Primary and Secondary schools are currently being challenged by the TES to develop their own History lessons using a historic object of their choice.

The Huge History Lesson competition has been conceived by television presenter Dan Snow, spoken-word artist George the Poet, and the director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor.

Pupils are encouraged to find an object that fascinates them, and produce a lesson plan which communicates what is interesting about it. So where exactly are they going to find these objects?

Here are five very different museums for teachers to take pupils to in order to find some inspiring artefacts.

1. For cartoon history: The Cartoon Museum, London

Don’t let your pupils be deceived into thinking the subject of History is tedious. A trip to this caricature-filled museum should lend a hand in providing an insight into the past of cartoons, despite how small the building itself is.

Its mission is to preserve and promote British cartoon art, comic art and caricature, and with a collection that dates from the 18th century to the present day, students can discover many pieces of artwork of a variety of genres.

Inspiring objects: Teachers can make an appointment for pupils to access the museum’s library, where comic book connoisseurs can study the medium further through cartoon archives. The museum’s World War One workshops for schools could be a useful place to pick up ideas for Huge History lesson items. In these sessions, children will study the cartoons that were produced during the conflict.

2. For dinosaur history: The Dinosaur Museum, Dorset

Never mind the hype of the Jurassic Park franchise; The Dinosaur Museum combines life-sized reconstructions of dinosaurs with fossils and skeletons to create a hands-on and interactive experience that will bring the prehistoric creatures to life.

Pupils of all ages will learn about the story of the dinosaurs and their world millions of years ago, and the life-size dinosaur reconstructions, which include Tyrannosaurus Rex, Deinonychus and Triceratops, are among the most popular displays during school trips.

Inspiring objects: The museum is situated eight miles from the Jurassic Coast, making it perfect for combining with fossil hunting trips on a suitable beach or other fieldwork.

3. For art and design history: The V&A Museum, London

The V&A museum is one of the world’s greatest museums of art and design, boasting over 3,000 years of history and artefacts from many of the world’s richest cultures amongst its diverse collections.

Its Medieval and Renaissance Galleries present more than 1,800 objects from the period AD300 to 1600 in a continuous chronological order.

Inspiring objects: Highlights to look out for on a school trip include the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci and an outstanding collection of Renaissance sculpture by Italian masters such as Donatello and Giambologna.

4. For medicine history: Thackray Museum, Leeds

A visit to the Thackray Museum will transport your students back through time to discover more about health and medicine through the ages.

Find out about the diseases faced by the Victorians and the pills, potions and old wives’ tales that were available to them; and then discover how these practices have evolved into modern medicine.

The museum offers specialist talks led by medical historians and professionals on topics ranging from Quack Doctors to Kitchen Cures. A series of workshops and exhibitions are available for Key Stages 1 to 4.

Inspiring objects: A tour of the 1842 Street, full of life-like objects from the time period, which focuses on germs and disease will provide an insight into how hygiene has improved. Maybe your pupils will pick an empty beer bottle from the Black Dog Pub, where Leeds locals went to drown their sorrows or a blood tub from the slaughterhouse scene.

5. For archaeological history: The Museum of London’s Archaeological Archive and Research Centre, Hackney

Spend a morning or afternoon on a school visit, exploring behind-the-scenes at the Museum of London’s Archaeological Archive and Research Centre based in Hackney.

The archaeological archive holds information concerning nearly 8,500 archaeological sites that have been investigated in Greater London over the past 100 years.

In 2012 the museum was officially recognised by the Guinness World Records organisation as the largest archaeological archive in the world – so students certainly won’t be lacking in things to see.

Inspiring objects: The archive has an incredible ten kilometres of shelves holding objects from around London - providing a wealth of academic resources for pupils to try and make sense of the past.

School Travel Organiser's Guide