Active Learning on

Mannequins in the Classroom

This idea comes from Rachel March who teaches in Bradford. It’s not so much an activity, more a way of creating interest, discussion, questions and maybe thinking about sense of period.

Here’s what Rachel has to suggest:

 “I have been using a mannequin (called Noel) in my history classroom since Christmas - as a prop, as a stimulus for my history teaching, and it is going very well.

I have a deal with a local fancy dress shop the school had previously used to dress the school play. They have agreed to loan me an outfit each month for a reduced rate. The staff at the costume hire shop were particularly impressed I think that I was paying for his outfit myself. I took some students along to help choose his second outfit which I think helped.

Let me explain, in January he was dressed as an American GI - in his pocket I put some Hershey's, some Wrigley's chewing gum, and a packet of nylons, and some American Dollars - the classes, (even those who weren't particularly being taught that period) would then have to guess who he was, and the significance of these types of people in history, using the clues I planted in his pockets.

It was the perfect platform to then explain to them the origin of the word GI, the impact of American soldiers in Britain, when previously they had only seen Americans from Hollywood, the number of British women who moved to America after the war, the number of babies born out of wedlock and the fact that American GI's were paid a lot more than British soldiers etc.

I have had enormous fun putting him in different places around school and in different poses and he has been a really positive addition to the classroom for learning purposes.  He was even found wearing a Bradford City kit, before Bradford's hopes were dashed at Wembley!

At the moment he is dressed as a Vietnam Peace protester in 1960's hippy gear, with a long wig, and long moustache and John Lennon glasses, because year 11 have just completed their controlled assessment on Vietnam, but it also provoked discussion in politics lessons and lessons on the suffragettes about types of protest.” 

So over to you …

How else might you use a mannequin?

Spot the anachronism? What would he/she be saying about …? Write the thought/speech bubbles for …? What would he/she be wearing in this or that period?

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Constructive feedback is always welcome, particularly anything that will help other teachers.

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