According to the children? The best field trip ever! We started out with an outdoor pole walk behind the museum, where we found various totem poles to learn about. There are memorial totems, mortuary totems, house posts, and house frontal poles to name a few! After focusing on the three major First Nations groups in BC: the Haida Nation, the Musqueam Indian Band, and another one I can’t remember because it is very hard to say and spell, we ventured inside to explore the exquisite and distinct differences between each of their artwork, their carvings, and their totems.
George and Alice (our tour guides) did an amazing job working with the children as we moved through the museum, in awe of all the towering, incredible pieces. We explored the carving tools hands-on, and then looked at the timelines of the totems actually built. The children got to do some sketching of their favourite totems in the museum which they most loved. I told George and Alice that you never give a group of Montessori children a paper and pencil with an accompanied time frame! We could have spent all day doing just this! We enjoyed lunch in the Haida longhouse outside, smelling its thick cedar scent, and headed back into the museum to explore the rest of it… we couldn’t get enough! Much like a bunch of children in a toy store 🙂 Our little group of 19 unfortunately had a few uptight security guards on edge at first, until they realized that the children were simply and utterly beside themselves with the magnitude of striking pieces! I assured them it was self-disciplined excitement, with the utmost care and attention in their movements.
Near the end of our exploration, George just happened to be walking past while a large group of us were marveling at Bill Reid’s monumental carving of The Raven and the First Men. We gathered the last of the children and all sat around as George shared with us the beautiful story of how the Haida came to inhabit the earth. We were fascinated not only by the story, but the children had many inquisitive questions for George that he chose not to answer, but further ignite their curiosity.
I don’t think there was any part of the day that could have gone better (well, more sketching time maybe…;) Who would’ve known a group of year 1 – 3’s could be so passionate about the Museum of Anthropology? I might suggest taking a trip there over the Christmas holidays, visit the gift store, and enjoy!
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