Posted on February 11th, 2015 by Rachel
Exploring the Immigrant’s Trunk.
A few months ago, Bet Yeladim, a preschool in Howard County inquired about the Museum’s preschool educational offerings. We quickly scheduled an outreach program for late January –and the education staff got busy making sure that the Immigrant’s Trunk for Preschool was in tip-top shape and ready for 50 preschoolers.
The JMM received funding from the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Education Fund to create a preschool program in connection with our very popular Immigrant’s Trunk program. The Immigrant’s Trunk program was created for elementary and middle school students to help them make concrete connections to historical immigration. An interactive trunk filled with photo reproductions, artifacts and a curriculum give teachers the tools to teach about immigration in the classroom.
Piecing together a photo puzzle.
In order for the Immigrant’s Trunk to be developmentally appropriate for 3-5 year olds or preschoolers, we created a trunk filled with interactives that included sewing cards, memory games, threading spools, and reproductions of period clothing. These hands-on materials are intended to help younger ones understand the story of brave Ida (a Ukrainian immigrant who arrived in Baltimore in 1913) and her journey across the ocean, so that she could meet her older sister Minnie who lived in Baltimore (The Golden Land).
Playing a matching game using objects from the trunk.
As soon as we entered the classrooms the preschoolers were immediately curious about the trunk and its contents. We explained that we worked at a history museum and immediately the children thought we worked at a museum that told stories about dinosaurs. We explained that we were going to tell a story about a brave young girl who travelled on a boat and that the trunk was filled with items that the young girl took with her on the trip. We asked the children to brainstorm some things that they would bring with them on a long trip. These children would be well –prepared. Their answers included medicine, towels, food, and toys.
The children listened intently to the tale of young Ida travelling all by herself to meet her big sister. They learned how Ida dragged her trunk with her up the plank of the ship and how she had to sleep in bunks in the “belly” of the ship, and the only thing she had to eat was watery soup and boiled potatoes.
Getting the wiggles out!
The children demonstrated empathy when they learned that Ida’s tummy felt sick on the boat during the storms crossing the ocean. They children were excited as they heard how Ida sailed on the ship up the Patapsco River and saw the American flag waving at Fort McHenry, and they were excited that she would be reunited with her older sister, Minnie. The students learned how Ida made a life for herself in Baltimore- she went to school, worked as a seamstress and eventually married Daniel Rehr. The trunk filled with inter-actives, photo reproductions and artifacts, along with storytelling and songs, helped to reinforce the children’s understanding of Ida’s heroic journey across the ocean to Baltimore and her new life she made for herself in Baltimore.
It’s a hands-on learning experience!
To learn more about the JMM’s Immigrant’s Trunk for Preschool, and other education materials and resources on immigration, and field trip opportunities for students in grades (PreK through 12), please contact the JMM’s Education Director, Ilene Dackman-Alon at 410.732.6400×214; or firstname.lastname@example.org
A blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts from Ilene click HERE.
Posted on September 11th, 2014 by Rachel
The City of Baltimore is abuzz this week gearing up for the 200th anniversary celebration of the historic Battle of Baltimore in 1814, the scene where Francis Scott Key got his inspiration for the words of our nation’s anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. We have been gearing up for our own celebration of the Jewish presence during that battle and the opening of the A-Mazing Mendes Cohen exhibit. This past weekend, our own amazing living history character, the “ghost” of Mendes Cohen had his first performance at The Defender’s Day Celebration at North Point located at Fort Howard Park.
The beautiful view at Fort Howard Park!
Mendes Cohen takes the stage.
North Point is situated at the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay just east of the Patapsco River leading to Fort McHenry. The Battle of North Point occurred a few days prior to the strike on Fort McHenry on September 14, 1814. On September 12, 1814 over 4,000 British troops landed at North Point, Maryland. The plan devised by the British was to march towards the City of Baltimore and to capture the port city. The British had already captured and devastatingly burned the nation’s capital, Washington D. C. in late August. The British were hoping to repeat their success with a similar attack on Baltimore.
The audience is enraptured!
Under the command of Major General Robert Ross, troops and supplies were unloaded upon the Maryland shore at North Point. A rather small force of just over 250 Maryland volunteers, led by Brig. Gen. John Stricker, commander of the 3d Brigade of the Maryland militia met the marching British troops at North Point in an attempt to delay the British advance towards Baltimore. Ultimately, the British failed in capturing Baltimore. The land attack failed and Fort McHenry withstood the heavy British bombardment by sea. Francis Scott Key watched the proceedings at the fort and wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner, which eventually became the U.S. National Anthem.
Children in period wear walk along the water’s edge.
The Defenders Day celebration was complete with re-enactors both from the British company- The Wellington Fencibles led by Major General Robert Ross and the Maryland militia led by General John Stricker. Re-enactors helped stage the actual battle that occurred at North Point, but also highlighted how people lived during the early 19th century. Women and children were present in period clothes, showing teaching visitors about daily life during the time.
Mendes introduces himself.
The highlight of the morning was our own “ghost” of Mendes Cohen, taking stage and sharing with the audience his recollections of the Battle of Baltimore in 1814. This was the first performance “on the road” for professional actor, Grant Cloyd, and he did an amazing job!
More pint-size re-enactors!
Be sure to check out the Amazing Mendes Cohen exhibition that opens this weekend at the Jewish Museum of Maryland. Check the website often www.jewishmuseummd.org to learn about all of the amazing programming and the upcoming performances of the living history character, the “ghost” of Mendes Cohen that will take place in connection with the exhibit.
Don’t miss the opening, THIS SUNDAY, September 13th, 10am – 5pm!
A blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more posts by Ilene click HERE.
Posted on May 9th, 2014 by Rachel
Since the successful opening of Project Mah Jongg, The Education and Programs Department has planned some wonderful programming for adults in connection with the exhibit. We’re particularly excited for our Mother’s Day Mah Jongg Madness event this Sunday and our upcoming “The Art of Mah Jongg” talk with Robert Mintz, chief curator at The Walters Art Gallery on Sunday June 8th.
In addition to our Sunday programs we have been delighted to welcome a charming stream of mah jongg mavens to the Museum. These groups of ladies are coming down to the JMM during our early morning opening hours; often armed with their own mahj sets and accoutrements for play (if you’re looking for a few mah jongg themed items yourself, don’t worry, our museum shop has got you covered!). It seems that the ladies are making the JMM a destination for the day (something we highly recommend). The first order of the day, of course, is visiting our special exhibit Project Mah Jongg; then it’s a leisurely browse through the Museum shop and a visit to the neighborhood for lunch only to head back to the lobby for some intense game play, and then finish up the day taking advantage of the synagogue tours – a full day indeed!
Talmudic Academy 2014
While these lovely ladies are a natural audience for all things mah jongg, the challenge of the exhibit for our department was how to present Project Mah Jongg to school groups? Learning to play mah jongg can be challenging and we couldn’t actually teach a group of students how to play the game in twenty minutes. Mah jongg takes practice to really understand the strategies and even just learning the different symbols on the tiles takes time. We knew we needed to develop an experiential learning opportunity – a way for students to engage and apply academic understandings through hands-on experience, while simultaneously learning new information about the world around them.
Younger students learning at play.
For inspiration, we turned to the mah jongg handbook. We started by looking for key words that described the game, keeping in mind that students from third to twelfth grade would need to understand. Success! First we had to familiarize students with the building blocks of the game: the tiles! So we concentrated on the basic symbols – bams, craks, dots and jokers. Then we tackled math concepts: doubles, triples, quads and quints, consecutive, sequence – a perfect way to fuse classroom learning with the basics of how to win at mah jongg. From there we developed a hands-on experience where the students could actually play a modified version of the game and apply simple math strategies. Younger students were given Mah Jongg Mats where players take turns picking tiles, working to complete their mats using the new math concepts that were introduced earlier. Older students were given a modified card for mah jongg play and used rules similar to the card game “rummy,” using the mah jongg tiles to mimic the different types of hands for play on the “card.” In this way we elevated game playing into an exercise in set theory and critical thinking skills.
Our older students are equally fascinated!
Project Mah Jongg really pushed us to think creatively with our educational activities and we were nervous – would the students understand? Would they be engaged and enjoy playing the modified version of the game? Well, we are excited to report that the students and their teachers have all commented how much fun Mah Jongg is! Both versions of the game are proving to be popular – most students really seem to enjoy playing with their friends. All of our teacher evaluations have indicated a positive feedback for the exhibits and the engaging learning activities connected to our exhibits. The teachers for both the younger and older grades have even inquired as to where they can obtain sets to bring back to the classroom!
A blog post by Ilene Dackman-Alon, Education Director. To read more posts from Ilene, click here.