Sunday, December 11, 2011

Top Notch Tour


A visitor to the museum would have no problem exploring the museum on their own and learn something about the building, its collection and the history of Iowa. But when a visitor to the museum takes a tour, it is amazing how much more you discover about the museum. Taking a tour really brings to life the story of this museum and its place in Iowa’s history. Not only are the docents incredibly knowledgeable about even the smallest items in the museum but they also tailor the tour specifically to the group. The docents have talent for capturing the attention of any age audience.



I had the pleasure of watching one of the docents in action when I tagged along with school tour. The students were fifth graders accompanied by several teachers and a few parents. As a teacher myself, I can assure you that it is not easy getting and keeping the attention of a group of fifth graders. Not only was the docent able to keep the students engaged but they were actually asking questions! For teachers everywhere questions = engagement and a desire to go beyond passive information gathering and have a sense of personal inquiry. This is what I love about museums, and the Old Capitol Museum in particular. Museums provide an outlet for informal learning that develops the audiences’ ability to take ownership of their learning.


If you haven’t had a tour of the Old Capitol Museum, schedule one. Soon! For all of you college students out there who need a time-filler before dinner or lunch with your parents who have come to visit, schedule a tour with your parents! They will be so surprised you thought of it. It’s ok, you can take credit for it!


(take the tour and learn about some unbiased construction tricks!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Trip to the Prairie!


Several weeks ago I was able to attend “Prairie Days” an event sponsored by the Cedar County Historical Society and the Old Capitol Museum. Since I knew the event would most effectively cater to young children, I decided to bring the daughter of a friend of mine to the event. Gillie and I were excited to go “back in time” and imagine life of the prairie. Gillie was a step ahead of me as she had attended a Prairie Camp over the summer months. The event was held on the grounds of the Cedar County Historical Society in Tipton. It was a windy day, perfect for imagining the brisk days working and playing on the prairie.



Our first stop was, of course, the little schoolhouse. I was quick the soft spot for historic one room school houses. That would have been no easy task, teaching children of varying ages and trekking through snow, rain, and other weather absurdities just to get to the school house. Remembering my reading of one of the diaries at the Old Capitol Museum, I recalled that many school teachers in Iowa arrived on horseback while the pupils would walk several miles to school! Talk about commitment to education!



When we entered the school house, we were greeted by a volunteer who was displaying a variety of wildlife from the prairie. There was even a buffalo hide! So cool! Gillie and I stayed for a while and rang the bell as we left.


We then followed our noises to the delicious foods available to try including an authentic stew that would warm you on the coldest of days. There was also a butter making station that Gillie and I took part in. The most popular station was the candle making station. It was so popular that, unfortunately, we were unable to participate. Instead we explored the tents used by traveling groups on the prairie. It was interesting to see the way people lived who did not have permanent settlements. Items had to pack easily and be absolutely necessary. The tents definitely kept you shelter from the wind but warmth was still a problem. Lots of layers and blanket helped fight the really cold days.




Overall, we had a really fun afternoon exploring prairie life. I was really happy to see the Old Capitol Museum take part in such a unique event. I hope they continue to do events like this in the future.