All About Me Museum
Perfect for the start of a new school year, this project combines history, geography, economics, and civics, and culminates with students presenting visual displays of their work.
- Grades: 3–5
- Unit Plan:
In this lesson, students will complete a comprehensive project that will guide them in viewing themselves as a living part of history.
- Correctly locate their place in the world through a series of maps.
- Differentiate between needs and wants.
- Write descriptions of personal artifacts.
- Describe why key photographs are significant to them.
- Accurately estimate the total purchase price of items.
- Identify and describe key events in their lives.
- Sequence events in chronological order.
- Compile several project components into an attractive display.
- Maps to review map skills
- 11 x 14 and 8 ½ x 11 blank paper cut into staggered sized pieces for map book.
- Newspaper ads, catalogs, magazines, real estate papers, car ads, etc.
- Digital camera and printer
- White cardstock
- Art supplies, crayons, markers, etc.
- Multi-colored pieces of construction paper, including flesh-tone
- The Pledge of Allegiance
- Overhead transparency film
- Index cards
- Tri-fold display boards, poster board or cardboard
- All About Me Museum Letter to Parents (PDF)
- All About Me Museum Project Guidelines for Students with Rubric (PDF)
- Wants and Needs Financial Planner (PDF)
- Picture Planning (PDF)
- Example of Map Flip Book (PDF)
- Artifacts (PDF) from Super Social Studies by Camille Cooper, Shirley Lee, Liz Van Tine, and Barbara White
Set Up and Prepare
Note: This project is multi-faceted. Many parts of it can be done simultaneously during the school day. For example, students work on geography skills during social studies, economic concepts during math, and write about patriotism during language arts time. I have divided the project into the following four components: history, civics, economics and geography. After reviewing the project, decide on the sequence that best fits your individual lesson plans. I always prefer to get my authentic assessment project completed mainly in class. Many years ago, I discovered that when projects spent too much time at home it was the parents who had the opportunity to shine and not the students.
- Establish reasonable due dates for the project and add them to the Parent Letter and the Project Guidelines.
- Gather a collection of "artifacts" you can bring in to share with the class. Unusual or old-fashioned items work best, perhaps something that was acquired at a flea market or garage sale.
- Find suitable examples of timelines you can share with the class.
- Make copies of the following printable handouts, enough for one per child.
- All About Me Museum Letter to Parents
- All About Me Museum Project Guidelines for Students with scoring rubric
- Wants and Needs Financial Planner
- Make copies of the following reproducibles. You will need four per student.
- Make one transparency of the reproducible "Artifacts."
- Determine how you will review map skills for the geography portion. Will you use your textbook or another resource?
- Cut paper for Map Flip Books. You will need both blank legal and letter size paper. The book will have eight pages and a construction paper cover. Each student will need one sheet of paper in each of these sizes, 14", 13", 12", 11", 10", 9", 8" 7". The cover should be 6" long, which is one sheet of 9x12 construction paper cut in half. Students will only receive one piece of paper at a time. (See Example of Map Flip Book.)
- Gather catalogs, real estate papers, car ads, etc to use when children go shopping for their economic wants and needs.
- Type or write out The Pledge of Allegiance and make one copy for each student.
- Gather one cardstock sheet for each student.
- Gather one tri-fold display board, a poster board or a large piece of cardboard for each student.
Introduction: Get Them Thinking
Step 1: Ask students if they have ever visited a museum before. Talk about the types of museums you can visit and what you see in each type. Lead students to understand that the purpose of a museum is to preserve something so many people can see and learn from it. Tell students they are going to create a museum at school and each of them will be on display.
Step 2: Distribute the "All About Me Museum Project Guidelines" printable to students and discuss what the project is going to encompass along with due dates.
Step 3: Send home the "All About Me Museum Letter to Parents."
Part One: History
Step 1: Hold up an artifact you have brought in and ask the class what they can tell you about it. Put up the overhead of the "Artifacts" reproducible to give students a frame of reference upon which they can base their answers. "It's old, made of metal and glass, we don't use them anymore," etc. Record answers on the transparency. Repeat this again for as many artifacts as you have.
Step 2: Brainstorm ideas of artifacts that might be left behind years from now that give clues as to their existence.
Step 3: Tell students they need to go home and search for four important artifacts that represent specific eras of their life: the baby/toddler years, the pre-school era, the young child period and the present. Examples of appropriate artifacts include favorite toys, a trophy, empty boxes from a favorite food, baby blanket, dance shoes, or a school project completed in another grade. They should be reminded to ask for parental help and to never take anything items from their home without permission.
Step 4: At this same time, tell students to select and return to school four photographs that reflect important information about them. Examples might include a picture of their family, a pet, their house, playing a sport, a favorite park or vacation spot, etc. If possible, copies/scanned images of real photographs would be best.
Step 5: When students bring their artifacts back to school, have them write about each one using the graphic organizer, "Artifacts" from the resource Super Social Studies. These should be published on small index cards in neat handwriting.
Step 6: When students bring in their photographs, they should write a brief caption and description to accompany each photo. Have students use the reproducible graphic organizer, "Picture Planning" to help them develop their writing. Publish on small index cards.
Step 7: Create a timeline. Work with students to help them develop a timeline of 5-6 key events in their lives. Use the graphic organizer, "Timeline Planner," or one of several that appear in Super Social Studies!
Step 8: When students have established their key events they can turn them into a sequential timeline. Before they do this, show several different types of timelines and discuss which would be best suited for this type of project. Provide construction paper or other materials students may want/need for their timeline.
Part Two: Geography
You will most likely want to complete the maps while simultaneously working on the other parts.
It is important for students to review map skills early in the year. This part of the project will cover that while reminding students of their important place in the world. Students will create several different maps during this section, compiling each into a Flip Book (See "Example of Map Flip Book"). I recommend starting one a day in class and letting them complete them at home that evening if necessary.
Step 1: Review map skills using your school's established program or through another resource. I recommend Instant Map Skills: United States by Spencer Finch if you do not already have an appropriate resource.
Step 2: Each day, introduce a different type of map. Students will create one map for each page of the Flip Book. I find it is easiest if most maps are created, then cut out and glued on the appropriate pages. Here is the sequence I follow.
- My Home: In the computer lab, I model how to use Mapquest on the Internet. Students input their home addresses and print a map that shows the exact location of their home.
- My City: We create a sketch map of our city (which fortunately is pretty much a big square) and label major streets and borders. We locate our school and put a star there. This is the first map where we need to include a student created map key.
- My County: Using our state map as a guide, we draw a sketch map of our county, another square for us, and label cities with a population over 10,000 people. Interstates are labeled as are prominent bodies of water.
- My State: Students draw our state and label major bodies of water and bordering states. We include a map scale for the first time.
- My Continent: For both pages 5 and 6, I use blank reproducible outline maps. Students color and label each.
- My Hemisphere: see "My Continent"
- My World: Students draw the world. I let them do this one on their own and the children's interpretation is always eye-catching.
- Students decorate their own cover any way they choose. Many like to go with a solar system theme since that would be the next step.
Step 3: When all of the pages are completed, staple together across the top. Label each map along the bottom so the titles can easily be read.
Part Three: Economics
For this part of the project, students will create a "Needs" and "Wants" collage.
Step 1: Tell students to imagine they had just been given a large sum of money, $250,000. There is a catch though; to keep it they need to spend it all within the week. Everyone will be excited at the prospect until you tell them there is yet another catch. Before they can spend their money on things they want, they need to purchase things they need such as shelter, food, clothing and anything else they think they need to survive.
Step 2: Present students with an array of newspaper ads, catalogs, magazines, real estate booklets. Students shop by cutting out pictures of items they need and want.
Step 3: Students keep track of the amount they have spent on the "Wants and Needs Financial Planner."
Step 4: Students take a sheet of construction paper and fold it in half. All of their "need" pictures will be glued one side and all the "wants" on the other, collage style, with overlapping edges. Students should label each side appropriately.
Variation: Have students work with one million dollars. They will then need to do more high-level thinking in order to decide whether a $700,000 house is a need or a want.
Part Four: Civics — Citizenship and Patriotism
Students will rewrite the Pledge of Allegiance in their own words.
Step 1: In many schools, students recite The Pledge of Allegiance each morning. After doing so, ask your students if they have ever thought about what we are saying every day.
Step 2: Using the copies you have made, share The Pledge of Allegiance. Discuss the meaning of the Pledge, line by line.
Step 3: Tell students it is up to them to help all people understand the pledge.
Step 4: Write the very first line on the board. Ask students what that means and transcribe it. Try another line further down.
Step 5: Using a graphic organizer or lined paper, have students rewrite The Pledge in their own words.
Step 6: After taking this through editing and revision, have students publish their new pledge. It should include a parallel title (Examples: Anna's Promise to the Flag, or Jose's New Oath to Our Country) Use patriotic themed paper if possible for publishing.
Part 5: Finishing Touches
Plan on 2 class sessions to put it all together.
Step 1: Take a close-up digital photo of each one of your students. When you print it, make the image as large as possible — life size is the idea. You will want to print these super-sized heads on white cardstock, which is a little sturdier. Cut the heads and necks out along their outline. Leave no background space at all. If cardstock is not available, cut out the printed heads and glue onto corrugated cardboard.
Step 2: Have students trace their left and right hands on flesh toned construction paper. Cut out.
Putting It All Together: Students assemble all the parts of the project on tri-fold display boards, poster board, or cardboard. I always stress the importance of neatness and attractive appearance when putting a project all together. Here are some tips I model and give to students that can work with many projects. Students should:
- Pick a color theme. Two to three different complimentary colors they can integrate throughout the project.
- Use the computer to help you create eye-catching headings and titles.
- Use colored paper as frames and borders for your project parts. White paper against a white background gets lost.
- Always assemble the project exactly the way you want it to look before gluing down anything.
- Use a checklist to make sure you have finished and included every part.
- After everything is on the board, think of what you can do to make your project stand out from the others. Add an attractive border, or add colored cutouts of stars, triangles, circles or other shapes scattered decoratively around the board.
- Last but not least, add the cutout head to the top of the project. Glue the neck to the back of the board so the head is extending out from the top. Fold the traced hands at the wrists and glue those from behind on the left and right side of the project. It looks as if each project has a special person looking over it.
Culminating Event: Once all the museum exhibits are in, invite parents, staff and other students to visit your museum. If space allows, the museum is best set up in large open spaces such as the gymnasium, cafeteria, or library. Last year, I displayed mine through the hallways and it worked out just fine. Plan to keep your museum open to the "public" for no longer than sixty minutes if you plan to be there with your class. Students can act as docents taking visitors through the museum explaining the purpose of the project.
Supporting All Learners
There is a great deal going on with this project at one time. Provide more time for those students with special needs. Assign a buddy or coach who can help out as needed. English Language Learners may not be able to translate the entire Pledge of Allegiance. An abbreviated version would be appropriate.
The last time I did this project, students also created a "Collection" wing for their museum. Each student assembled an array of items that they collect. The children attractively displayed their collections in all sorts of cases along with a card explaining what the collection was all about. This exhibit was fascinating as so many children who thought they were not collectors realized they really were. Some of the collections included seashells, decorative hair clips, super balls, Happy Meal toys, and matchbox cars.
- Complete 8 different maps and compile in a Flip Book.
- Write a brief informative description about four artifacts.
- Write a brief informative description of four photographs.
- Create a timeline that chronologically highlights 5-6 key events.
- Rewrite The Pledge of Allegiance in an understandable, meaningful manner.
- Create a collage of wants and need.
- Fill out a financial spreadsheet, with a zero balance the goal.
- Was the lesson paced properly? Did students seem too rushed or did they finish earlier than you anticipated?
- Did you model enough throughout the lessons? I never expect students to successfully fulfill an objective if I have not modeled the outcome for them.
- ere the students able to explain the idea behind the project to people who visited the museum?
- What would you do differently next time? What would you keep the same?
At this time of year, this project is a great way to see how students handle deadlines and managing many things at once. Jot notes down about specific work and social behaviors you see during class work periods. Because students see the rubric ahead of time, and most if not the entire project is completed in school, there is a very high success rate when it comes to grades. Students will feel pride that they were able to achieve a high grade and the bar will be set high with expectations for quality for the remainder of the year.