Wednesday was a very special day in my elementary school: the 3rd grade’s annual Wax Museum, my favorite event of the year! The entire third grade participates in this cross-curriculum project. Each student selects an exemplary character, either historical or contemporary. The students research their character and write a report about the character’s life and accomplishments. After editing and rewriting the report as a speech in the first person, the students write their speeches on index cards. The students rehearse their speeches in class and at home until memorized. This is an excellent opportunity for the teachers to work on presentation skills — eye contact, volume and intonation, speaking rate. My artic and language students bring their speeches to therapy for extra practice. Then the big day arrives!
On Wax Museum Day, each student dresses in the fashion of his or her character. Ben Franklin, Neil Armstrong, Albert Einstein, Madame Curie, Harry Houdini, and Mickey Mantle are just some of the 80+ characters in the Wax Museum, and the costumes are amazing! The students stand around the perimeter of the playground, each with a 5″ circle of red construction paper labeled “press me” taped to the ground in front of them. The Wax Museum characters stand stock-still, until a museum visitor (parents and the rest of the student body) steps on the “button.” The character then springs into life, launching into their speech. At the conclusion, they freeze until the button is pressed again.
This is such a fabulous activity, and it encompasses so many academic standards! History, research, writing, memorizing, designing costumes, presenting: what a thorough and memorable way to learn! I would be willing to be bet those skills and those characters remain with the students for a lifetime, and I’m delighted to be able to support my students in this project.
While our school does this on a large scale, you might want to try this on a small scale with students on your caseload or in a special education class. Fun stuff!