Since Boston Children’s Museum is one of the few children’s museums in the world to have a collection, we knew from the earliest planning stages that the collection would be incorporated into our program. One of our overall goals was to communicate why archaeology was important, and working with the collection gave us the opportunity to do this.
To this end we devised a matching game that asked children to pair items that would normally be found at an archaeological dig- stone tools from the Museum’s Eastern Woodland holdings- with recognizable objects of the same function from the early American collection. In this way we hoped to encourage children to think creatively while showing that archaeology has real links to how we live in the present.
One of the advantages to the matching activity was that it was flexible enough that the person running this station could easily modify it for a variety of ages. For children too young to make the kinds of connections we were aiming for, looking at objects under magnifying glasses or simply holding the tools and feeling their weight sufficed (it should be noted here that in order to handle objects children were required to put on the white gloves we provided and were not allowed to handle certain objects).
One of the disadvantages to this activity was that it required someone with collections experience to manage. This meant that depending on the night, either the Collections Manager, the Collections Intern, or myself (a former Collections Intern at the Museum) had to take turns manning the table for the entire 2 hours.