Making History Come Alive for Students

June 4, 2021

The Canadian Museum of History has developed a new travelling school initiative: History Box, featuring 25 objects in a discovery box format. Generously supported by the Rossy Foundation, the Wilson Foundation, the Crabtree Foundation, Power Corporation of Canada, the Carolyn Sifton Foundation, the Good Foundation and many individual donors across Canada, this national program is currently being tested with educators, for an anticipated launch in January 2022.

Image of a hand drum.

Hand drum by Todd Labrador, a Mi’kmaq artist and Elder
CMH IMG202-0023-0007-Dm

Each History Box contains reproduction objects, lesson plans and other material supporting current Canadian curricula. Reflecting stories from the Museum’s signature Canadian History Hall, the program celebrates Canada and the people who inhabit it, while also encouraging an interest in history and how it continues to affect us today.

The History Boxes will be provided to schools free of charge for two weeks at a time. The reproduction objects in each box correspond roughly to the three time periods explored in the Canadian History Hall. Early Canada is represented by important cultural objects such as the Tyara Maskette or “First Face” — a tiny carving of walrus ivory, created 2,000 years ago in Canada’s Far North. In this section, eight additional objects of Indigenous origin — all reproduced by Indigenous artists — celebrate the craft, artistry and traditions of Indigenous peoples from all parts of Canada.

Students will also explore objects from daily life in French and English Canada, including the Last Spike. Rounding out the learning experience are objects reflecting Canada from 1914 to the present day, including a hockey sweater, a Chinese immigration certificate, an LGBTQ banner, and an Izzy doll like those given to children by Canadian military men and women posted overseas.

To provide teachers with as many tools as possible to make history come alive for their students, each History Box also includes suggestions for activities, backgrounders and more. Based around four themes — Geography and the Environment, Indigenous and European Relations, Canadian Identity and Culture, Symbols and Artistic Expression — the materials in each kit can be used to spark discussion and discovery on multiple topics, making this a program with broad appeal.

The new History Box travelling program is poised to introduce students to history, making our shared national story come to life in a relevant, meaningful and memorable way.