Saturday, April 26, 2014

Science/Social Studies Poetry Pairings - Museums

I love museums. In some of my favorites I find myself rooted to a spot in front of an exhibit that fascinates me. I wonder about the history, the happenstance, the science, and more. If I close my eyes tightly I can imagine The Met, The Field Museumand the National Museum of Natural History. I'm inspired by Tyranosaurus bones, the Hope Diamond, a hippopotamus named William, a painting by Milton Avery, a British court dress from the 18th century, and so much more. There is much to inspire us inside a museum. What museum pieces inspire you? 
Today's book pairing is about museums and how objects big and small find their way there.

Poetry Book
Behind the Museum Door: Poems to Celebrate the Wonders of Museums, selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stacey Dressen-McQueen, is a collection of 14 poems about museums and the objects found there. In it you'll find poems by Jane Yolen, Myra Cohn Livingston, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Kristine O'Connell George, Alice Schertle, J. Patrick Lewis, and more. The title of the book comes from this poem.
Behind the Museum Door
by Lee Bennett Hopkins 
What's behind the museum door?

      Ancient necklaces,
      African art,
      Armor of knights,
      A peasant cart;

      Pioneer wagons,
      Vintage cars,
      A planetarium


            with stars;

      Priceless old coins,
      A king's golden throne,
      Mummies in linen


      A dinosaur bone.
Poem ©Lee Bennett Hopkins. All rights reserved.

Here's one of my favorite poems from the book.
by Myra Cohn Livingston
This mummy lies,
Closed in death,
Red-lidded eyes,
While, underneath
The swaddled clothes
Brown arms, brown legs
Lie tight enclosed.
What miracle
If he could tell
Of other years
He knew so well;
What wonderment
To speak to me
The riddle of
His history.
Poem ©Myra Cohn Livingston. All rights reserved.

This is a terrific little collection with poems on suits of armor, a dinosaur skeleton, wheels, clay, the woolly mammoth, trilobites, and much more. 

Nonfiction Picture Book
How the Dinosaur Got to the Museum, written and illustrated by Jessie Hartland, tells the tale of how a diplodocus skeleton makes its way from the plains of Utah to the Smithsonian Nation Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.. Before the bones are found by a dinosaur hunter, Hartland describes the formation of fossils in an informative double-page spread. Using a cumulative refrain, Hartland describes all the different people who come into contact with the skeleton as it makes its way to the museum. After the dinosaur hunter readers learn how a paleontologist, excavators, movers, preparators, a curator, paleontologists, night watchman, welders, riggers, exhibits team, and cleaners all play a part. Here's an excerpt from the text.
Here are the museum's riggers,
who use cranes, hoists, and bobcats
to move, position,
and post the 15-ton,
skeleton of the diplodocus,
which was ... 
hung from the steel structure by the welders,
stumbled over by the night watchman,
put together by the preparators and paleontologists,
made complete by the curator,
assembled by the preparators,
transported by the movers,
excavated by the paleontologist,
and found in the crumbling sandstone by the dinosaur hunter.
Text ©Jessie Hartland. All rights reserved.

Back matter includes information on dinosaurs, fossils, diplodocus, the provenance of the fossil described in the story, the man behind the discovery (Earl Douglass), the paleontologist (Charles W. Gilmore), and links to dinosaur dig web sites.

Similar books by Hartland include How the Meteorite Got to the Museum and How the Sphinx Got to the Museum.

Perfect Together
What kid hasn't stood in front of a museum exhibit and wondered how it got there? Or how it was assembled, hung, or preserved? Begin by reading a few of the poems in BEHIND THE MUSEUM DOOR and ask students how they think mummies, trilobites, and dinosaur skeletons become part of a museum collection. Follow-up with one (or all three!) of Hartland's engaging, informative and accessible books.

For additional resources, consider these sites.
  • Curating an Exhibit is an interactive resource where students pick artifacts to build a museum exhibit.
  • Learn more about Diplodocus longus and the Carnegie Quarry where many have been found.
  • You can learn all about the Peekskill Meterorite, the subject of Hartland's most recent book.
  • You can also learn about the Sphinx of Hatshepsut, the subject of Hartland's first book in this series.
  • Experts at the University of Cambridge answer the question "Why do we put things into museums?".
  • The Making Museums Project is a partnership between two museums and eleven UK schools in which children follow objects through their many museum processes, from archaeological dig, to documentation, conservation and research before returning to school to make museums in their own classrooms, exploring their identities. Check out the link to teacher resources.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful choices. I'll definitely be checking these out. Thanks for the post.