Creating An Activity For Children

Posted on July 21st, 2014 by

One of my favorite things that I’ve done during my internship here has been creating and leading activities for elementary and middle school students. Most of the activities I’ve worked on are connected to The A-Mazing Mendes Cohen  exhibit opening in September, but I’ve worked on two that kids have had a chance to try out.

For the first activity I was tasked to create, my co-intern Arielle and I were given a bunch of cards with Jewish and Christian symbols on them that are usually kept in The Synagogue Speaks exhibit. Since there were multiple cards with each symbol, we decided the best way to teach kids about the symbols on the cards would be to create a matching game.

Museum Education Interns Emma Glaser and Arielle Kaden discussing which cards should be used in the matching game.

Museum Education Interns Emma Glaser and Arielle Kaden discussing which cards should be used in the matching game.

Eight pairs of cards are placed randomly in a 4×4 grid and the kids playing the game have to take turns turning over cards until they’ve found all of the matches. It’s especially fun toward the end of the game when they know where some of the cards are and give advice to their friends on which card to pick. Once they’ve found all of the matches, the staff member with them asks the kids which symbols they think are Jewish and which are Christian and discusses what the symbols are. Some of the symbols used in the game are Shabbat candles, a nativity scene, and a yarmulke. The game works best for groups of five to fifteen kids per grid, so it’s a great opportunity to for kids to have a group discussion and ask questions.

Kids from Hampstead Hill Camp playing the matching game.

Kids from Hampstead Hill Camp playing the matching game.

photo 3

Hard at work!

The other activity I created is based on The Electrified Pickle exhibit. It’s a scavenger hunt that’s aimed at getting the kids interested in the artifacts in the exhibit. The scavenger hunt highlights one interesting artifact from each section of the exhibit. When I was creating it, I picked artifacts that I thought would draw kids’ eyes, either because they were striking, like the samovar used in the exhibit, or because they were something the kids would have used themselves, such as a scooter.

Considering which artifacts to include in the scavenger hunt.

Considering which artifacts to include in the scavenger hunt.

Kids have to find each artifact pictured in the scavenger hunt and figure out what it is. Older children also have to find the answer to a question about each artifact, such as what its function was or when it was used. At the end of the activity, a staff member asks the kids what the answer to each question is.

A girl from Hampstead Hill Camp points out an artifact to her friends.

A girl from Hampstead Hill Camp points out an artifact to her friends.

Three kids from Hampstead Hill Camp check out a scooter they found in the scavenger hunt.

Three kids from Hampstead Hill Camp check out a scooter they found in the scavenger hunt.

I have really enjoyed leading activities for kids here because it is very rewarding to see them enjoying and learning from the exhibits here at the museum, and that is doubly true for the activities that I created.

Emma GlaserA blog post by Education Intern Emma Glaser. To read more posts by interns, click HERE.

Posted in jewish museum of maryland

National History Day

Posted on January 15th, 2014 by

Typically every week, the education staff gets many requests to schedule school group visits to the Museum.  Over the past week, in addition to field trip requests, – we have had several requests from schools to participate as judges at the schools’ upcoming National History Day competitions.  Over the years we have been invited by schools to  participate, but I thought it was kind of unusual that in the past week, three separate schools have reached out to the JMM to be judges at their school’s National History Day competition.


I wondered what would be involved – being a judge ….. it just sounds so OFFICIAL.

So, I did some investigating about National History Day.  National History Day (NHD) is a highly regarded academic program for elementary and secondary school students.     National History Day makes history come alive for students by engaging them in the discovery of the historical, cultural and social experiences of the past.    NHD inspires students through exciting competitions and transforms teaching through project-based curriculum and instruction.  Each year, more than half a million students, encouraged by thousands of teachers nationwide participate in the NHD contest. Students choose historical topics related to a theme and conduct extensive primary and secondary research through libraries, archives, museums, oral history interviews and historic sites.

Every year National History Day frames students’ research within a historical theme. The National History Day theme provides a focused way to increase student’s historical understanding by developing a lens to read history, an organizational structure that helps students place information in the correct context and finally, the ability to see connections over time. This year’s theme is Rights and Responsibilities in History.

In addition to discovering the exciting world of the past, National History Day also helps students develop the following attributes that are critical for future success:

  • critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • research and reading skills
  • oral and written communication and presentation skills
  • self esteem and confidence
  • a sense of responsibility for and involvement in the democratic process

After analyzing and interpreting their sources and drawing conclusions about their topics’ significance in history, students present their work in original papers, websites, exhibits, performances and documentaries. These products are entered into competitions in the spring at local, state and national levels where they are evaluated by professional historians and educators.

As a judge, for National History Day, each judge will be given a rubric and some “interview questions” for each student. Each judge will be given a set amount of students to interview and judge based on the final project.

The National History Day program culminates in the Kenneth E. Behring National Contest each June held at the University of Maryland at College Park. This is where the best National History Day projects from across the United States, American Samoa, Guam, International Schools and Department of Defense Schools in Europe all meet and compete. This year’s competition will be held on June 15 – 19. 

The education staff at the JMM is delighted to be asked by our partner schools to participate in such an exciting learning experience for area students.   It’s wonderful that history and social studies are being taught in our schools.  The fact that teachers bring their students to the JMM for field trip opportunities and attend professional development workshops only reinforces the importance of history museums in our community. It’s even more exciting that teachers view the Jewish Museum of Maryland as an important stakeholder in our community.

You can find out more about National History Day by visiting their website at and more information about Maryland History Day here!

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more post by Ilene, click here.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

Another Farewell to Zap! Pow! Bam!

Posted on August 26th, 2013 by

Baltimore Hebrew Day School 03.12 (2)

Getting a little reading in at the exhibit.

There are many times that the development and education departments work together to write grant proposals to seek funding for various education initiatives.   As a thank you to the funder, we usually write a final report detailing how many students came to the Museum, and where the students resided in the state of Maryland.   We also like to report about the educational activities that students participated in.  In addition, to these statistics we like to include the comments that teachers included in their evaluation of their field trip experience.


Going onto the moving truck.

Last weekend, we said goodbye to Zap, Pow, Bam- The Superhero: The Golden Age of Comic Books, 1938-1950.  It struck me as I was culling through the evaluations of  Zap, Pow, Bam, that the comments were very interesting- and they surely would provide good fodder for a blog post.

  • “I really liked the set-up of the Superhero exhibit.  It was very spacious and neatly organized.  The students seemed very interested to learn that Superman had parents, the names of the various comic book publishers.”  It was also important for them to learn that by achieving greatness- you also have great responsibilities.”  The students also love seeing the artifacts.
  • “The students really like the diversity of the exhibits, and the hands-on learning they were able to do.
  • “Fascinating, new information!  Great connections between pop culture and history to Judaism.”
  • “They enjoyed discovering new comic heroes. The references to Hitler and WWII were perfect this is what the students are studying now in middle school.”  (pix of students by wall)
  • “It was a wonderful experience, all of the hands-on learning activities and the wealth of knowledge from the guides.”  (pix of students with masks drawing)
  • “It’s important for students to learn about all cultures.  The Museum gives them a unique perspective, and helps the students to recognize the differences as well as the similarities to their own cultures.
  • “Our second graders just finished studying Helen Keller, so seeing the Braille comic book – AMAZING! “  (girl reading reading comic book)
A school group enjoys our hands-on "artist studio."

A school group enjoys our hands-on “artist studio.”

It is wonderful that teachers recognize the Museum as a place for active learning and engagement.  We look forward to reading more informative notes from teachers in the next few months with the opening of our next exhibition, Passages Through the Fire: Jews and the Civil War which opens on October 13, 2013.

Young gentlemen from the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day school enjoy the displays.

Young gentlemen from the Charles E. Smith Jewish Day school enjoy the displays.

ileneA blog post by Education Director Ilene Dackman-Alon. To read more post by Ilene, click here.


Posted in jewish museum of maryland

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