With shrinking field trip budgets, you can keep your museum in teachers’ minds with an educational trunk program!
Teachers check out educational trunks for a small rental fee to teach a lesson or series of lessons based on your collection. They can also use the trunks as a pre-visit or post-visit activity for students.
Trunks can include a wide variety of materials on history, science and art topics. Reproductions of photographs, paintings and documents from your collection, as well as children’s books, craft supplies and props create an easy lesson-in-a-box for teachers.
Some museums have started a “teaching collection” of authentic artifacts that are specifically designated for educational purposes. These items can be deaccessioned artifacts from the permanent collection or artifacts collected specifically for the teaching collection.
Artifacts placed in educational trunks should never be rare, valuable or fragile items. No artifacts from the museum’s permanent collection should ever be used for this purpose.
Make a check list of every item in your trunk to be sure all of the materials are returned.
Educational trunks should be clear and easy for teachers to use. Include a booklet of information and lesson plans that are simple to implement in a classroom setting. Consider placing these materials on a CD to save paper.
You may want to set up a teacher advisory panel to help plan the most useful tools for them. Consult the educational standards in your state and evaluate how you can best meet the needs of teachers with your educational trunk program.
Include a list of resources teachers can go to for more information on your topic including websites, books and articles.
When marketing your trunks to teachers, stress the convenience and uniqueness of your materials. Be clear about the target grade level for your trunks. Check with your teacher resource center for help getting your information in the right hands. Some counties have a free courier service that will deliver approved materials to every school in a district.
You may want to consider making multiple trunks on the same topic so you can send out more than one at a time. Creating an educational trunk is an excellent project for a good intern to tackle.
Most museums try to keep rental fees reasonably low to accommodate limited school budgets or out of pocket expenses for teachers who routinely go above and beyond for their students. Trunk rental fees can be as low as $10 per trunk, with $5 refunded upon return of the trunk.