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Traveling museum comes to local children
by Steve Beavers
Jul 23, 2013 | 300 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ashunti Tye checks out sweetgrass used to make baskets. / Staff photo by Steve Beavers
Ashunti Tye checks out sweetgrass used to make baskets. / Staff photo by Steve Beavers
Project Attention has opened a trunk of insightful activities over the summer.

The University of Mississippi Museum's Traveling Trunk provided around 40 children in the summer enrichment program a chance to experience the museum without leaving the center.

Through the special exhibitions, youngsters were introduced to art, culture, and history.

"The trunk provides a hands-on experience for the kids," said Amy Rausch, a VISTA volunteer at Project Attention. "Everything in the trunk is touchable."

On Tuesday, Rausch led a group of girls in the study of Lowcountry Basket Weaving. The previous week, the group covered the topic of Mississippi artist Theora Hamblett.

"It has been fun learning about other cultures," said Javia Williams as the girls listened to a CD on Gullah Folktales from the Georgia Coast while making baskets out of yarn and a plastic bowl.

"This is something that otherwise wouldn't have been offered, but because of the partnership with the university we were able to get it here," added Rausch.

Normally, the trunk is limited to a one-hour radius of the museum. Presentations consist of an introduction to the topic, demonstration of the art activity, and ways to help explain different approaches to utilize the trunks for further study. Presentations usually last an hour.

In the study of basket weaving, youngsters were introduced to the Gullah Culture and how it came to South Carolina in the late 1600s. Gullah/Geeche speak their own language which is a mixture of English and several West African languages. The people also have their own folktales, stories, history and songs.

While listening to a folktale, the girls had a chance to see if they could walk with a basket loaded with plastic fruit on their head. The group also got to see a bowl made of woven telephone wire by the Zenzulu Softwire Women's Weaving Group in South Africa. The South African group is made up of 30 women who craft the bright bowls.

"We are teaching them a grade at a time which allows them a more hands-on experience," said Rausch.

The Traveling Trunk has been a resource for teachers across the state as it links lessons and activities with the Mississippi Department of Education Frameworks for Visual Arts, Language Arts, and Social Studies, as well as integrating the Common Core State Standards.

Each trunk contains a thematic introduction, materials and instructions for a Visual Arts component, Language Arts component, and Social Studies or History component. The museum's mission is to engage new audiences through an innovative approach to education.

This week wraps up the summer enrichment program at Project Attention. Applications are now being accepted for their After School Homework Assistance Program available for students from Pre-K to high school.

To register for the program or for more information call 662-287-5200.
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