Hamden Hall Country Day School

Educating students in PreSchool through Grade 12

Living History Museum Creates 'Real' Experience for Fifth-Graders

The annual Living History Museum – curated by our fifth-graders – had a different feel this year, but the experiential learning that is inherent in the project was on display in myriad ways.

“Students were actively engaged in learning about their chosen hero or heroine as they were required to research information and then turn the ‘he or she’ pronoun into ‘I’ and actually become the person,” explained museum founder and fifth-grade teacher Emily Schimelman 2002.

Students prepared a monologue in school and then practiced their lines. Once home, they filmed themselves reciting their narratives while donned in an appropriate costume for their chosen figure. All videos were then uploaded to YouTube for their peers and families to enjoy.

The annual Living History Museum project was established by Mrs. Schimelman in 2015. The exhibit usually features the students on display in Swain Library, dressed as their historic characters, and ready to come to life with an imaginary push of a button. Students in other grades were able to traverse the exhibit and experience history pertaining to the American Revolution. 

This year, fifth-grade students wore their costumes in school and offered a preview of their characters during last week’s Lower School Zoom Assembly. Click here to enjoy the commercial.

The Living History Museum project is a cross-curricular, highly interactive undertaking. Art and music both played a part as did role play and other activities, such as writing letters of grievance to King George III, making maps for battle plotting, and creating a timeline called “The Ladder to Independence,” which aided in students’ ability to retell the events leading up to the Revolutionary War.

Students also enjoyed a Zoom program with the Museum of the American Revolution and learned about identifying primary source artifacts, according to Mrs. Schimelman, who worked in conjunction with fellow faculty Monica Emanuelson, Alexis Harris 2001, and Lisa Collins.

“The Living History Museum is an example of experiential learning that allows each student to not only learn, but to make learning come to life,” said Mrs. Schimelman. “Through hands-on learning, we created something ‘real.’ It is something that a student can look at and think: I was able to do this because of what I have learned.”
    • Fifth-graders created a commercial for their Living History Museum.

Hamden Hall Country Day School

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Hamden Hall Country Day School is a nurturing and inclusive community with a dynamic learning environment that promotes academic excellence by understanding each child and fostering their individual growth.