Interactive virtual learning programs at Keeler Tavern Museum & History Center grew beyond the tristate area recently when Melissa Houston, KTM&HC’s education director, joined two kindergarten classrooms from St. Andrew’s Lutheran School near Chicago for a virtual field trip for their career day.
“We don’t often think of museums as a ‘career’ for career day – we usually ask community members like teachers, librarians, police officers, and firefighters,” said Caitlyn Warren, admissions director at St. Andrew’s. “But it is important for students to think creatively about their futures, and this was a perfect way to do that.”
During the January 14 program, Houston gave the students a brief lesson on how to visit a museum and the history at KTM&HC. She focused on history museums as a place where students can learn about how people lived differently in the past and how learning about differences helps people to be more understanding of the people around them. Then she explored one of the kitchens in the historic tavern building, briefly describing the history of the site, live virtually with the students.
One young boy asked if the room was “real” or just a background and was thrilled to learn that Houston was actually in the room and the objects she was using were truly there.
Houston said, “As virtual learning develops, it’s important to make sure students still connect to ‘real’ lived experiences and feel like they are seeing the world as if they were truly there. I know it can be hard for kindergarteners to imagine how far away Connecticut is -- and how far away 300 years is -- but it’s wonderful to have them visit for a virtual field trip. KTM&HC is making sure that students have access to history in meaningful ways digitally as well as in person.”
“I thought it was a perfect time frame for my age group, and I loved that we were able to see things from long ago,” said Marissa DiVito, kindergarten teacher at St. Andrew’s. “It was so engaging, and students were excited about it.”