Child-led Learning at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

As part of our Child-led learning programme, children in each year group from T2 to Form 2 choose their own topic for one term per year. This term Form 2K chose 'South America' and visited the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology in Cambridge to explore the subject further. The children took part in a multisensory handling session inspired by objects from the Amazon and discussed points such as how the ancient Maya expressed their identities, what objects they used to show their power and what archaeology can tell us about South American ancient civilisations.

One child commented, “I learnt that priests and kings had their mouths open in sculptures and that they were the only people allowed to catch quetzal birds for their headdresses. If you were caught catching one you would be killed.” Another member of 2K said, “The highlight was being able to handle real artefacts from South America and trying to guess what they might have been used for. We had to use our imaginative mindsets. I loved sketching our favourite relic from the displays.” Another child commented, “This trip brought our learning to life. I loved seeing how tall the totem pole was (14m) and how it got into the museum. I also found out that some native people still live in the Amazon in a very traditional way.”

The trip linked to the work and research the children have carried out in school. After initial research into the main facts about South America, the children choose a country in groups, researched it and then represented their findings physically on maps they made. Back in the classroom, the children compared these countries to England with reference to biomes, culture, flora and fauna. They took part in a ‘Creativity as Practice’ lesson, where they compared items from South America and made creative links between them. This led to looking at the cave art in Patagonia, as two of the things the children were asked to link were bones and paint. They listened to descriptions of the paintings, watched a clip of the surrounding area and then wrote free poetry. 

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