One of my favorite units at the museum school was a unit called “Everything Changes.” The interdisciplinary unit covered changes over time. During this unit we often had the students create object timelines: a telephone through time, children’s games over time, etc. Years and objects were combined to create visual timelines of how everyday objects have changed over the years. So, when I happened upon this cast iron salesman sample at a local antique store I was excited and I went back a few days later to purchase it as a Christmas gift for my husband. Luckily, he shares my enthusiasm for objects and antiques. (I promise).
Sometimes these are labeled as children’s stoves or a child’s toy stove. Our dealer said this was a salesman sample so I am going with that. What I love about this item is the attention to detail. From the eagle figure on the front, to the movable burners and the hinged doors, this object offers so much insight into cooking in the past. Even the side has a warming hearth and there is a reservoir lid at the top. Its intricately detailed. When my husband and I first saw it we opened each door and lifted the burners. We had fun just playing with it as I imagine many children have done over the years.
So, you don’t have salesman samples hanging around your house for use in the classroom.
What? I thought everyone did.
Seriously, incorporating object-based timelines is easy.
Sometimes you can find objects like this at garage sales, Ebay, and Etsy. Chances are your older family members may even have some great objects hanging around their homes. Old telephones come to mind. But, photographs and vintage advertisements are just as effective for creating object-based timelines.
And, don’t underestimate your students. One of my favorite exhibits for an “Everything Changes” unit included 3-d objects made by students. Students created examples of games, toys, appliances, and electronics from cardboard, construction paper, etc. In the process of creating these replicas the students learned about the fine details of these objects from the past and they practiced historical thinking skills.