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Teaching with Primary Sources - Create Your Own Cabinet of Curiosity

This guide includes details to complete a remote learning exercises in materiality and help gain a sense of the physical nature of objects.

Activity Instructions

  • Find an item from nature inside or outside your dorm room, apartment, home, or classroom 
  • Describe the object using your senses (how does it look, what sound does is make, how does it feel to the touch, any smell?)
  • How would you classify the item? With what other objects might this object be classed or associated?   Be creative – think outside the lens of contemporary scientific categories and those of Western history. Create your own classification system to use. What title, date, or format might you give to it?  How are objects generally classed within your system?
  • Share something about this item that is not readily known from the description you’ve provided – such as how it makes you feel, a memory associated with the item, or where it came from.  What hidden powers or powers not readily observable may the object have?
  • What questions remain about the item?

An Example (Photo and activity courtesy of Kelly Wooten)

example of wunderkammer