What are Mini Museums?
Designed to demonstrate children's knowledge about certain aspects of their history topics, these delightful creations will excite children and give them an alternative way of answering an enquiry question or simply showing off to their friends, school and parents what they have learnt. Why not add to it with background display boards and related historical artefacts? Or how about as a home learning project?
The idea is to help bring the learning that the children have done to life in a meaningful way. Just like going to visit a museum to learn more about different people or artefacts, the children can use these to demonstrate their knowledge and share them with others. Inviting classmates, other year groups or even parents in to view 'our exhibitions' is a great way of letting the children have control of their learning and be proud to show what they know. Framing the 'exhibition' with an enquiry question will encourage the children to explain what they have done, what they have included and why and how their museum/exhibition helps to answer that.
You can find out more about this brilliant idea from the Making A Mark scheme from the National Portrait Gallery here:
Two mini museums using the pre-made backgrounds you can download below. Links to a blank template and the models also provided below.
How to use them within your topic
Just like every other subject within the curriculum, history lessons and tasks should have a purpose. Creating the museums should be no different. Ensuring that this doesn't simply become a 'craft activity' is vital in maximising your topics and developing the children's skills in history. By using the museums to answer an enquiry question or statement and really focusing the museum and exhibition on something, you are keeping the children centred on what is important and away from the 'crafty' part of the task. The space for text underneath should be carefully thought out so that it isn't simply a rambling about a generic object, but demonstrates why that object is there and how it helps to answer the question. For example, making and displaying a Viking longboat is a great opportunity to talk about how the Vikings weren't just mindless raiders, but intelligent explorers who travelled great distances to setup peaceful trade routes all across the globe. Similarly, including the pyramids in an Egyptian museum should be used to highlight the achievements of the Egyptians, their legacy and what they reveal about the Egyptians, and not just being a description about the pyramids, their size and location etc. You could even have different museums focusing on different aspects so that all of the projects come together to answer the enquiry or question. You could also add a backboard to add more information - see below for details about how to make them.
How to make them
The accompanying video demonstrates how to make the backgrounds, but if you can't access the video, here are the instructions:
1. Use either one of the pre-made or blank templates from below (or you can make one yourself) and place it so that the large cross is at the top of the sheet.
2. Take the top right corner and fold it to the bottom left of the big cross, making it straight along the horizontal black line at the bottom of the cross.
Video tutorial for making the museum (designed to be used with children)
3. Then take the top left and fold it to the bottom right of the horizontal line underneath the cross. You should end up with a triangluar top above the rectangle where the text for the object/artefact goes.
4. Fold the triangle backwards along the black horizontal line.
5. Then fold the final smaller rectangle at the bottom back on itself.
6. Unfold the whole shape so that you are back with your A4 paper that should now have lots of folds in.
7. Cut the fold from the top right down to the centre - do NOT go past the centre.
8. You should now be able to overlap the top and the right triangles from the large cross and stick them together.
9. You now have one side of a museum that can be perched on the edge of a table using the bottom fold.
10. If you want to join more sides to have a larger museum, fold more templates and stick the sides and the bottom flaps together.
Here are 4 background templates that lend themselves towards objects linked to the pyramids, the Nile, tombs, mummification, obelisks and statues.
Links to paper models:
Here are 4 background templates that lend themselves towards objects linked to the army, gladiators, chariots, entertainment, the Senate and Emperors.
Links to paper models:
Here are 4 background templates that lend themselves towards objects linked to the gods, beliefs, housing, settlements, longboats, exploring, warriors and weapons.
Links to potential paper models that could be used:
This link shows the completed version:
Use the 'Blog Archive' on the right to scan through other great Viking paper models.
Here is the blank template that can be used to design whichever backgrounds and floors that you wish for your own museum.
Remeber that the bottom triangle is the floor, the left triangle is the left wall, the top triangle is the right wall and the right triangle should be left blank as it will be covered by the top triangle.
Ancient Egyptian Background Templates
Ancient Roman Background Templates
Vikings Background Templates
Blank Background Template
Printing the templates
As these are in PDF format, you can print them easily. However, you should consider printing them with 'Bordeless' settings if your printer allows it. Go to print the PDF as you normally would, then click on Printer Properties at the top. If your printer allows it, you should see the option to tick 'Borderless Printing'. Tick this and click OK. You should now be able to print without any white edges. You may need to untick this afterwards or future printed documents will also print Borderless by deafult.
If you cannot select Borderless Printing, there will be a white edge around the template, whether it is pre-made or blank. If this happens, you should still work to the edges, folding and cutting from them, or have the children finish drawing the lines to the edges to help.
Selecting 'Borderless Printing' will give a much nicer finish.
Most of the models that are linked will be much too large for the museums. However, you can resize these using an online coverter like this one:
Simply download the model that you want, click the link above and upload it to the website. Most of the models work best if you select either A6 or A7. Once you have made your selection, press 'Start' and then download your resized file. When you open it, it won't look any different, but when you go to print, you will notice that everything has shrunk and moved into the centre.
Adding a surrounding backboard with more information, pictures and artefacts will be a great way to expand the potential of a project like this.
For mine, I bought a cheap cardboard fold-out display from Hobbycraft for £5 and printed a picture off for each. I actually had the Egyptian background on one half and the Roman on the other half, meaning that you could effectively get 2 backgrounds from one board to save costs if necessary. This is what it looked like after printing the backgrounds onto A4 and trimming them. You can of course make your own background displays from boxes or you canfind the fold-out displays from Hobbycraft here:
Resizing the models to make them fit the museums.
Printing a background for a fold-out display board to stand behind the museums. I found an image, strecthed it to the dimensions I needed, then printed it full-szie onto A4, I trimmed the edges, put it in order and then stuck each section down carefully, piecing it back together.