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School Militaria Display


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I have been invited by a history teacher to put on a display of my WWII items for his class in the end of April. Anyone have any good tips for putting a display on for middle schoolers, i.e. 11-14 year olds? In April he will be covering WWI and WWII which will be near the end of the month and I will have to go four times in one week for the four different classes he teachers.


I thought it would be a great idea to put this display on so the, "Next Generation" could learn more about the sacrifices men gave during the war. I did put a display on recently at a Christmas dinner party that was held at a local VFW Post and a few kids and young adults showed up, mainly because they heard I was putting a display on.


I know Justin here has down a display for a class before, and he did it multiple times as well. I would greatly appreciate any tips you could throw my way Justin. ;)


I will be sure to post pictures of it when the time comes so everyone could get a general gist at how it went. No matter how it turns out, I always say, "What it the true point to a collection if all it does is sit around and collect dust? You should have it out and take it places for others to see and enjoy." thumbsup.gif



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I did the same for a freshman history class. I'm not a great public speaker, but the one lesson I learned was for me to talk less, and get the students to talk more. Sometimes, things that collectors find "neat" generate very little interest at the student level.


One approach that worked was: I bought in a WWI backpack filled with personal items typical to the period, and we played a game of "what do you think this was used for, and why?"


Also, talk with the history teacher and determine if they've watched any films as a study aid, and bring in items that relate to that experience. For example, the class I was in had just seen "All Quiet on the Western Front". Because of this, bringing in some captured German items along with the US items generated more interest.


Hope this helps .... send me a PM if you want to talk more ...



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CNY Militaria

OK, here are my tips--


--Start a good relationship with the teacher(s) you will be working with. They will know what to expect from you, and will ensure that you have any supplies you need (tables, etc.) are respected within the classroom.


--Invite other teachers, school employees to attend at their convenience--it only helps you in the end


--Be careful in choosing what to bring--While the students generally do not know the difference among many items, bring as many "WOW!" items as possible, it will keep them more entertained (Remember, you can't bring everything, there is only so much you can talk about and bring due to spatial considerations)


--Have a plan or general idea of where you are going--I generally use a theme to mine relating events in history to the objects themselves, through the actions of individuals. Therefore, it is in your best interest to bring named/researched items so that you can tell stories and say "this item or person was actually there."


--Before getting into the main body of your presentation, spend some time in the beginning explaining what everything on a uniform represents, and teach them as if they have no idea what anything is (because generally they don't). For example, in a nutshell explain military ranks, ribbons, branch insignia, placement of SSI, etc.


--Allow for time at the end for students to come up to your display and get some hands-on/question time with you. Ask another teacher to go up as well, and keep an eye on the areas that you are not standing in. It has never happened to me, but I was warned that there are some sticky fingers among some groups, as well as clumsy students.


--Before allowing anyone to touch items, set ground rules for them to follow using a good command presence so that they know you mean business (i.e. leave bayonets in scabbards, don't bang on the helmets, don't try anything on without permission, and generally treat items as if they are in a museum and priceless). Accordingly, don't freak out when some break the rules (a few will), just ask them nicely to refrain from what they are doing.


--Bring a few low-level items for the students to try on, they will enjoy that a lot.


--You will notice that the males always gravitate toward the bayonets, field gear, and inert ordnance. Felames enjoy looking at/and trying on hats and uniforms.


--Pass certain items around the room, I generally pass around shrapnel pieces, and a few photos to illustrate points.


--Check with the teacher about what you can and can't bring in--At mine they allow me to bring in pretty much anything, but be sure to check with them prior to bringing any inert ordnance (which is helpful to make a few points) or bayonets.


--NEVER leave the collection unattended for any reason. I don't even leave the room unless I personally lock it and carry the key with me. I do mine over the course of two days, and always pack it all up and bring it home overnight so I maintain control over everything.


--I do Six-1 hour and 40 minute presentations over two days, and sometimes run out of time rather than things to talk about.


--Arrive at the school AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE to set-up. I get there 30 minutes before the first class, and with 2 people helping me, I break a sweat setting up and barely finish in time. So plan out in your head in advance where you plan to put everything.


--If you are bringing uniforms, I recommend bringing metal wire hangers wtih you, as opposed to wooden or plastic ones, as they are easy to twist and form to hang on almost anything.


--Use all space and objects in the room to your advantage as it will help you a lot. Note in my picture how I used the blackboard top and bottom.


--They will almost always ask the same questions (or so they have with me year to year) regardless of whether you addressed them in the presentation or not. Here are a few of the most common:

- Where did you get everything?

-What is everything worth?

-What’s the most expensive item you have in value/and price paid?

-Did anyone die in any of these items?

-What is that?! (With a kid pointing to a piece of insignia or object)

-Are you a teacher?

-What is your favorite item?

-Why did you start collecting?


--They like to hear neat or strange stories—about items, personalities, or the hunt for items.


--They will tell you the weirdest stories, whether true or untrue—in my experience, I met a kid whose uncle had received a MOH, another whose father owns George Washington’s Sword, others whose relatives were the greatest military leaders of all time, etc. Take everything with a grain of salt and go along with the story.


I am probably forgetting a few points, so as I remember, I’ll add more.


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Thank you both for the great tips. thumbsup.gif I already asked the teacher what not to bring and I already knew firearms weren't allowed and no knives/bayonets. I asked if German memorabilia was alright and he said yes, as long as the story behind the axis power and their notorious crimes against humanity.


I won't be bringing a collection near the size of the one you have in the picture, yours is massive, I could only imagine the work on packing and unpacking it all was! :)


I will make a short speech, but as Tim said, I am also not a very good public speaker. I would be more then alright talking with everyone and answering questions while everyone is looking at the stuff but i'm not to great on the stand up in front of class and make a speech. (Feels like i'm back in public school once again.)


I already told the teacher that I would be needing a couple tables and he is providing a clothes rack for the uniforms. Good point on having the teacher come up with the class while everyone is looking at the stuff, for I was a little worried about some stuff going missing.


The teacher already told me that he is going to invite some other classes to come over while i'm there. I'll ask him to see if any of the other school staff would like to come.


After I put that display on at the VFW Post I found out I needed to show up quite early to setup. He told me to show up at 7:00, not sure when the class starts though, i'll remember to ask him.


I'm looking forward to any and all questions, bring it on. :) It should be quite exciting and enjoyable event. I'm not sure how keen the kids would be on reading things but I made special signs for each of the items in my collection to help explain what it is and how it was used. Below is a picture of one I made for my field desk.


- Jeff


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When I was in highschool, I did some presentations on Remembrance Day. It's a great feeling to see the kids so interested in what you've brought. Just to emphasize, pass some stuff around. The kids can get an idea about what they are seeing, but to hold it in your hands is something completely different. I've passed around helmets and other miscellaneous stuff (just make sure they hold on tight) and let them try the helmets on to get a better understanding of these pieces of history.

And remember to be ready to answer a lot of questions. A few years ago, one of the local vets brought his things including a German belt buckle he had taken from a dead German soldier. One of the kids asked where he got it from, and the vet just said "I got it from a German who wasn't using it anymore."

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One thing you might want to consider is rather than telling the full story of WWII, talk about the experiences of someone from the local area (real or fictionalized) from the standpoint of a 17 year old leaving home and going into the military. Make the connection that this all happened to someone close to their age, from their home town.


And ask the teacher what they have been studying in particular. For those of us steeped in the hobby, it is sometimes hard to remember how basic the knowledge of the general public is. It is very easy to get the kids lost with details and fine points if they are still learning basics.


As mentioned Middle School/ High School kids are inquisitive and tend to be very tactile... as in touching things. They also have no idea what is rare and what is fragile. I would take things that do not break.


Since weapons are not allowed, large scale photos could be substitued. Or those wonderful training charts or layout diagrams can give the same idea.

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