Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Experiencing History with the Canadian War Museum's Supply Line

If you’re looking for a hands-on opportunity for your students to discover the Canadian experience in the First World War, you need to check out the Canadian War Museum’s new program “Supply Line.” 

Supply Line is a discovery box of WWI artifacts that students are able to pick up, inspect, test, and even try on.  There are 22 objects from WWI (5 authentic artifacts and 17 reproductions) representing different aspects of the Canadian experience in Europe.  Some of the highlights for my students included a soldier’s dress jacket, a steel helmet, a trench periscope, a small box respirator (gas mask), and a gas alarm rattle. 

Also in the box are contextual photographs, artifact information labels such as you would find in a museum display, and a binder of teacher resources.  The teacher resources include additional background information on each artifact and a series of lesson plans, with student handouts, based on different themes, topics, and cross-curricular connections.  All information is provided in French and English.

Service Dress Jacket with contextual photos and information labels
Supply Line is a free program - the Canadian War Museum even covers all shipping costs.  Boxes are loaned out for two-week periods and there is a limit of 1 loan per semester per school.  While the Canadian War Museum is unable to guarantee a specific request, you can specify your preferred month when you submit your application.  I submitted my request in mid-September for delivery any time between October and early January.  I received an email 2 weeks later indicating a box could be delivered on October 15.  Demand for the boxes will likely grow as more schools hear about this great opportunity so get your request in soon.

My students really enjoyed this opportunity to interact with history and watching them try to figure out what some of the more obscure objects were used for (and which students already had the answer!) was a great opportunity for me to observe their thinking and analytical processes, too.

The Canadian War Museum has put in a ton of work to make this a really valuable resource and it is definitely worth checking out!