Cana­dian War Mu­seum to loan ar­ti­facts to schools

The Prince George Citizen - - Local - Holly McKEN­ZIE-SUT­TER

Class­rooms across Canada can bor­row sets of Sec­ond World War ar­ti­facts and re­pro­duc­tions in the sec­ond in­stal­ment of a pop­u­lar learn­ing tool pro­vided by the Cana­dian War Mu­seum.

The Cana­dian War Mu­seum launched its “discovery boxes” at Bay­side Mid­dle School in Saint John, N.B., to­day, fol­low­ing up on a sim­i­lar project in­volv­ing items from the First World War.

Boxes booked through the mu­seum’s Supply Line pro­gram con­tain cloth­ing, wartime art and pho­tos and other ar­ti­facts, as well as les­son plans that ex­plain the con­tents.

Many of the cloth­ing items, in­clud­ing a Mark II hel­met, an army bat­tle dress jacket and a woman’s head scarf worn in a factory, are re­pro­duc­tions, but some au­then­tic ar­ti­facts are in­cluded in each box, such as an emer­gency ra­tion kit and a cam­era spe­cific to the pe­riod.

Kathryn Lyons, the mu­seum’s man­ager of vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence, over­saw the de­vel­op­ment of the Sec­ond World War box. She said the pro­gram aims to bring the tac­tile learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of the mu­seum to kids who may not be able to visit.

“There is some­thing about be­ing able to touch ob­jects, be­ing able to feel his­tory in a way that you don’t nec­es­sar­ily get to when you’re read­ing it on a page,” Lyons said in a phone in­ter­view.

Af­ter Wed­nes­day’s school launch in Saint John, Lyons said she was im­pressed by how the Grade 7 stu­dents were in­trigued by the discovery box con­tents. One stu­dent shared a story about a rel­a­tive’s wartime service, and another imag­ined the pos­si­ble back story of an orig­i­nal piece of sweet­heart jew­ellery, which would have been worn by a ser­vice­man’s loved ones.

“The power that ob­jects have to grab at­ten­tion, to gen­er­ate ques­tions, is amaz­ing,” Lyons said.

On­line course ma­te­rial ex­pands on the war ef­forts of Canada’s army, navy and air forces, the roles of women and chil­dren, wartime jobs, the story of the Holo­caust and the coun­try’s in­tern­ment of Japanese Cana­di­ans.

Items in the boxes and ac­com­pa­ny­ing pho­tos were se­lected to re­flect the di­ver­sity of Cana­di­ans’ wartime ex­pe­ri­ences, some­thing Lyons said teach­ers across all grade lev­els ex­pressed in­ter­est in af­ter the First World War boxes launched in 2014.

Teach­ers can book one of 20 bilin­gual kits, aimed at stu­dents in Grades 4 and up, for two weeks at a time.

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