Inclusive courses at Stenaldercenter Ertebølle

In June 2019, Stenaldercenter Ertebølle opened its doors to a new experience room. The donation from the A.P. Møller Foundation not only provided new cabins, streams, etc.m. but also made it possible to rethink the dissemination for kindergartens and school students in a way that benefits and involves as many of the students as possible.

There is a long tradition of civic involvement in the museum’s activities starting with  » Our Cultural Heritage » known as the

« caravan project ». Then came church tours, picture books,the museum’s school service, museum education for children with special needs, tourists, youth education, the language school and most recently vulnerable families.  It is almost one of the pillars of Vesthimmerlands Museum and Stone Age Centre Ertebølle: « the museums are for all citizens! »

 

Since 2012, the Museum’s school service has developed courses for « children with special needs” from special classes and Schools. It has been a great success both in terms of number of courses, but not least, as we have experienced that the students get a great return: professionally, socially and personally. Therefore, it was obvious to focus on this in the planning of the new experience area at the StoneAge Centre: How could we create an experience area that caters to all students or in other words: How do we create an inclusive learning space?

The physical layout of the Stone Age Centre.

The experience area is divided into the following areas:

  • The settlement
  • The water: the basin and the lake
  • Field
  • Primeval Forest
  • Workshops: plant -, food-, and clay workshop
  • Hunting
  • An experimental area with archaeological sandbox w.m.

 

 

 

 

The Stone Age Center seen from above is located at the coastline of The Limfjord

 

 

The outdoor areas are intended to excite all senses, and to challenge students in many ways for example:

  • There are several stations where students can touch the objects, skins, bones, try Stone Age clothing
  • The physical layout challenges students physically e.g., strength, balance, coordination and endurance
  • Activities that motivate quiet activities: Stone Age patterns, production of colors, ceramics, plant fiber work
  • Challenges students’ personal development archery, dugout sailing, crossing the creek at the beaver dam
  • Knowledge challenges: recognition of tracks, archaeological sandbox, recognition of skins and tanning types
  • Cooperation: dugout sailing, construction of skin tents and ploughing of arable fields
  • Outdoor areas are accessible to students with walking difficulties by providing Cadweazel, all-terrain wheelchairs are free of charge.

 

 

 

 

A Cadweazel allows people with walking difficulties to get around the outdoor areas – to be part of the processes where they happen. Then many of the users see it as a « cool » vehicle.

 

 

The courses:

Before the course: It is our experience that here the “3 p’s “come into play.  Or said in another way: preparation, preparation and preparation. Clear agreements with the participating class, clear course where all practical things are ready so that you do not have to leave the class in the middle of the process, which causes turmoil.

The experience of the previous work on « Children with Special Needs » has led to all courses starting before the center’s official opening hours. In this way, students should not relate to other guests

The framework for the process is essential.  This ensures a clarity that gives calm to the students about: « What are we going to do? »

The framework around a typical course at Stenaldercenter Ertebølle:

  • 9am-9.15am: Welcome with presentation of cast members, where should we be? Where are toilets and other practical information
  • 15am-9.30am: Fruit break. Some classes come from afar and need to get a little in the stomach before starting.
  • 30am-10.15am: Live tour
  • 15.11.15: Students are in two workshops e.g., archery and dugout sailing
  • 15am-11am-45pm: Lunch
  • 45am-12.45pm: « Stone Age Centre on its own »to allow each pupil to seek out that caught their interest.
  • 45-13.00: Evaluation of the day and farewell

Live tour

The first part of the course is a mixture of an introduction to the experience area as well as to the Stone Age in general. We urgently need them to understand what the Stone Age was and how to make the most of the experience area.

The key areas we have chosen are:

  • What is Ertebølle Culture?
  • What is a Kitchen Midden?
  • Stone Age man
  • Quick tour of the experience area: Who lives here and what can you do?

The tour is more like a dialogue about the Stone Age: What do the students know and what do they need to know? We use identification as a method, so when the subject falls on the Stone Age human, we try to draw parallels in the students e.g. there is one of the students who has the typical skin color, height, etc. Or show students what stories their skeleton shows. It is also in the tour that students learn how to use the experience area and how to look for the objects that are in the area.

The aesthetic design, different development and clarity of the experience area mean that many students are surprised and super motivated to get started. They are most often like a  » herd of wilde horses ready to run beyond the steppes ». Therefore, the tour has been made very physical, so that some energy saved is burned off, but also so that they can remember the different areas.

Examples of inclusive activities

Plant fiber

In the plant fiber workshop, students learn about the use of plant fiber in the Stone Age through a small exercise, where they thread bast to string, they can use for bracelets or necklaces. The students work together in pairs, with one holding while the other person is making the cord. Thus, students need each other in the activity in order to solve it. In addition, it is an advantage to be two to work the workflow. Students need each other’s help through the activity and strengthen through relationships one to each other and in class in a positive way. If we had chosen to merge the cord, there would have been no need for help, and in that case, you could say that the activity would have had an exclusionary effect.

In addition, plant fiber activities are a workshop where fine and coarse motor skills are trained, knots and problem solving are promoted.

 

 

 

Here, an adult gets help from a girl to twist the cord. Collaboration can easily cross ages.

 

Log boat sailing

Is an activity that is used both in communication with the teacher and when the students are « released » on their own.  It is an activity that for many children is very cross-border due to the risk of getting wet. The voyage begins in a dugout, where mine will sit. 3-4  rowers in the boat.  That way, everyone is needed to get out of the boat. If you are to avoid getting wet, then it is important to observe the safety- the procedure of down and ascent in the dugout so that it does not overturn. If the dugout is to sail fast, it is important to be able to find a common tact. In this activity, it is extremely important that the adult person who controls the voyage is attentive, and can control the instruction, so that the sailing becomes a positive experience. Therefore, it is also crucial that there is an adult when the students sail on their own, so that it is not only the « strong » students who sail, but hold on to:  » that the boats should be filled up with rowers »

If there is no adult to place, the activity can easily become exclusionary, so it will be the same students who sail all the time.

Dugout sailing is training in communication, strength, coordination, and not least balance.

 

Students about to take a common decision on: Should we go back or turn… or both?

 

Archery

Shooting with the bow and arrow is very motivating for most students. It really is something they look forward to, but that few master. That means they need instruction! By pairing students, you can strengthen inclusion in class. There are a lot of things you must keep track of as an archer: how to hold the arrow, aim, release a.m., so if you’re together inpairs, you can help each other in a completely natural way. Archery can strengthen cooperation between the sexes, the individual students, across the bunches.

The above shows 3 examples of activities that include « mastery exercises ». Often the activities are unknown to most students and teachers as well! Which means that everyone has the same starting point, they are set right from the beginning of the activity, and often there are students who are surprised how quickly they learn to master a craft, hunting method or mode of transport.  They actually get some areas that they may not exactly be world champion in, but as they can see progression in, they get a sense of « being able to master it » one, too many, very positive experiences that give confidence and make them rank their backs. It gives a lot of talk, because there are always students who surprise. There are a lot of boys who are surprised at how good the girls are at shooting with bow and arrow

At the Stone Age Centre, the dissemination is aimed at the whole body. We seek to put all the students senses into play: They can hear the rippling of the pelvis, they can smell the brain-tanning skin, sometimes they can also taste the Stone Age.  They are allowed to touch, and they are allowed “to do “the Stone Age if they do have the courage to sit in the log boat. The course is very motivating to almost every student, and we seek to nurture the motivation with exercises in a safe framework.

On your own

A significant part, 45 min – 1 hour, of the course is on « your own.  Throughout the teacher-led course, the students have become acquainted with a wide range of topics, issues and concrete artefacts from the Stone Age.  During the live tour, students gain physical knowledge of the experience area, where in the last part they decide for themselves what to investigate further or try again.  There is great variation in their approach to the area.  Some classes choose to examine the area individually, in small groups or in small groups with teachers. In this part of the dissemination, their knowledge from the previous hours is tested and put into perspective. Of course, the areas we did not get into depth should be examined, for example, the archaeological sandbox seen in the picture below.

 

 

 

The students’ enthusiasm for finding « real » objects is very contagious, and here it is also an advantage to be more about the excavation, so that one can help each other.

 

The physical size of the area makes room to disperse and be themselves. We often watch students who did not have the courage to cross the pelvis of in class context, they cross it when they are on their own or together in pairs. For those students who need a little quieter activity, often seek to paint with natural colors or test their skills again in other activities.

On their own, it gives time to digest impressions and examine in their own tempo, which students greatly appreciate, and even express it.

 

In the experimental area, students can try to build a simple skin tent with sticks and a tanned calf skin. Pictured above is the finest example of some students who have moved on on their own– and are building a ‘log cabin’

 

 

Experience:

The new experience landscape was opened September 15th, 2019. In the first 3 seasons we have had about 150 courses for school classes of which 24 courses for « children with special needs ». That is a relatively nice number to draw conclusions from. There has been a great deal of commitment from students and teachers as well. It is our experience that the more concretely we make the Stone Age, the better students receive … both general and special classes. The inclusion of the students in the course is closely linked to the commitment of the intermediary and the teacher. We can’t just let the students go in the facility on their own and then think they’re taking care of each other, they don’t! If the adults are present in the facility, physically and mentally and support the process, then the inclusion succeeded very well. Some of the activities at the Stone Age Centre are organised in such a way that they have a behavioral regulating effect, e.g., dugout sailing, threading of string or archery, so that they become an inclusive learning space. The first three seasons have shown we are on the right track and there is certainly much potential in further development of new courses.

 

The Stone Age is a time period that is distant, but no less exciting, aesthetic or educational for that reason. Regardless skin color, religion and political beliefs… then all humans have one thing in common… We have all been through a Stone Age in our history.

 

 

 

 

 

This article´s author together with the cat “Karl Max” the museum cat participating in a course aimed at the youngest children visiting the museum for the first time.

 Kim Callesen, Head at Museum Education and advisor in teaching outside the classroom at Vesthimmerlands Museum and Stone Age Centre Ertebølle in Denmark