As a former Head Start teacher, I realize the importance of making learning interesting with hands-on activities. Working at the Lower Sioux Agency Historic Site in conjunction with Head Start allowed me to try some new teaching skills for all levels.
Our first project was a Children’s Day Event. Barb Kiergaard (LSA staff member) and I took a Hunter- Gatherer game from another site and adapted it to our site. Since then, we have developed hands-on activities and projects that we use not only on Children’s Day, but with schools and other groups that visit our site. We use handouts to help children explore our exhibit on a scavenger hunt, finding specific items to answer questions about the history of the site. We use an archaeological dig box to show children how archaeologists work. We have a variety of early Native American and settler toys. Our visitors enjoy discovering (or rediscovering) non-electronic toys.
We have added a settler’s kitchen garden and a Dakota garden to our site that helps us show children how people at the Agency gardened, saved seeds, and preserved foods in the mid 1800’s. Sometimes we offer a variety of food tasting and seeds to take home to be planted in the children’s own gardens. We also have a few period tools on site, both early Native American and American settlers. The students discover what it is like to use these tools and appreciate the advancements that have been made in similar tools today.
We are always happy to learn that a family came to our site because their child/children had visited on a school field trip and wanted to return.
Judi Waterfteld, Morton, Minnesota
The Central Park Wildlife Center (New York City) recently graduated a class of new docents. The training is long and rigorous and those who graduate can be very proud of their accomplishment. They know they can face the visiting public armed with a head full of information and the interpretive skills to share it with others. The trainers and mentors presented the graduates with a congratulatory card penned by our very own poet-in-residence, Randi Winter, who is an instructor here at the Wildlife Center. I’d like to share it with you.
To the Wildlife Guides
My, how much you all have grown
Your fledging is almost through.
Now it’s time to send you off
And release you to the zoo.
We’ve built you up and trained you.
Gave you much food for thought.
(And even we are quite amazed
with all the things we’ve taught.
From animal facts to zoo nuts and bolts,
tours and stories to read
We send you off with much knowledge,
knowing a smile and theme are all you need.
Your training stops here with a toast and a cheer.
We’ve enjoyed your fresh outlook and view.
We wish you the best, you’re up to the test
(we should know, we were the ones who prepared you!)
But wait, one last thing before you go
As it should, this card has a THEME.
After reading it, we want you to know…
CONGRATULATIONS, AND WELCOME TO THE TEAM!
And, with a lot of cheering and high-fiving, we sent them off to join our corps of knowledgeable, creative, and dedicated docents.
Gloria Geucher, Coordinator of Volunteers, Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, New York
Waterfield, Judi. “It Works for Me…Sharing successful techniques, thoughts, and ideas,” The Docent Educator 8.3 (Spring 1999): 13.
Geucher, Gloria. “It Works for Me…Sharing successful techniques, thoughts, and ideas,” The Docent Educator 8.3 (Spring 1999): 13.