Pre and post-visit activities: Many Stories program

Suitable for: Years 5–8

These optional activities have been developed to prepare and enhance the experience of students who are booked into the Many Stories program at the Immigration Museum.

Pre-visit activities for teachers

You may want to introduce some of the following ideas to your class before your visit.

Museums, collections and research: What is a museum?

Conduct a class investigation about what a museum is, based on student experiences. Find out what students already know. Brainstorm student responses. The questions below can begin the brainstorm:

Who has been to a museum before? What did you see at the museum? What did you do at the museum?  What do you see in a museum?

Based on classroom conversations develop a class definition of a museum that can be tested against the experience of the class visit.

Museums, collections and research: What is a museum collection and how do museum objects help us to learn about other people’s stories?

Here is an explanation of the Migration and Cultural Diversity Collection:

Museums Victoria's Migration and Cultural Diversity Collection records the different cultures of Victoria's population since European settlement in the 1830s and contains over 6200 items. Each item has a unique story and provides insight into the lives of the people who used it.

For a new object to join the collection it needs to be significant and important. Curators need to record and research each object in the collection so that others can learn about the object as well. Items usually have to be stored in cool temperatures and dry conditions. Sometimes they need to be repaired or preserved in some way; this is the job of a person called a conservator. A fraction of the museum's collections are displayed for the public in the galleries but many objects can be viewed online at Museums Victoria Collections.

Students will work with the "interpretive collection", objects reproduced or based on the originals from the collection as well as other objects considered to be relevant to the development of personal stories.

Pre-visit activities for students

Stories in the classroom

How do we uncover stories associated with objects?

Look around the classroom and see what can be discovered by identifying an object, making observations and asking questions of that object (for example use the See, Think, Wonder routine to investigate objects of material culture).

Stories from family and community

Ask students to think about how they learnt about their family or their community. What objects have provided information to help them understand their personal story? 

For further ideas and ways to talk about museum objects and learning, visit the What's Your Story? teacher guide.

Learning about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures

The Immigration Museum is located on the lands of the the traditional owners of Melbourne, the Boon Wurrung and the Woi Wurrung language groups of the greater Kulin nation and acknowledges this place is where Aboriginal people have lived, laughed, fought, married, dreamed and died for thousands of years. The Immigration Museum was built by British settlers in the 19th century. Further details of the traditional owners, languages communities and cultures of Victoria can be found on the First Peoples exhibition website.

Our Stories – context from within the classroom

Begin a class exploration of Small Object Even Bigger Stories before visiting the museum and then follow up after the excursion. 

Use some of these questions to lead a discussion regarding the ancient history of this land and the more recent settlement and migration stories associated with your local community – the conversation/research could also be more specific to the area where your school is located.

Local History societies may offer resources to assist with this activity.

Students can work collaboratively to develop group sets of questions and then pool the questions / develop responses in teams based on personal stories and/or the local stories of the place where your school is located.

Ancient stories

Aboriginal stories of our community – refer to the following language map to begin the research.

Who are the traditional owners of the land where our school and homes are located?

Our stories

When did the first non-Indigenous people arrive to the place where our community is now living?


From where?

How did our family come to be living in this community? 

What is the settlement history of the place where we are currently located?

Citizen History in your local area

Settlement and migration history can often be traced through investigation of the built environment.  Architectural styles, place names, street names and public spaces often reflect settlement history.

Create a citizen heritage field trip and spend time collecting data on the names of places in your community. Investigate local cemetery, public spaces and identify names of individuals and groups who have been assigned public recognition. Where did they come from?

When was our town/city established?

Who are the people whose names feature prominently in our community? 

Who are the locals? What languages predominate in our local community history?

What settlement/migration stories can we find?

The museum building and its history

An example of the built environment reflecting the history of a place.

The Immigration Museum was originally the Customs House and it was built by Europeans on the land of the Woi Wurrung and Boon Wurrung people. You can investigate the story of the Customs House by visiting the Customs House website.

Post-visit activities for teachers

You may want to introduce some of the following ideas to your class after your visit.

Complete the Back at School Activities from page 19 of the Passport received during the excursion. 

Museums, collections and research

Brainstorm student reflections after the visit to the museum.  Here are some prompts:

  • At the museum I thought we would ... and we ...
  • Before I went to the museum I ... now I ...
  • At the museum I saw ... and I would like to ...
  • I am thinking about ... after our excursion to the museum ...
  • I would like to ...

Return to the class definition of a museum created before your class visit and test against the experiences of the visit.

Redefine your class definition based on the museum visit and student observations.

Development of Australia as a nation

Visit the MV Collections website and find Rebecca Greaves Letter  Cuc Lam's suitcase, and the photos of Bul Bulkoch

Discuss with students what these objects offer about the development of Australia as a nation.

The White Australia Policy

The White Australia Policy of 1901 is documented in the following collection items.

Use this collection to discuss the concepts of being an Australian in 1901 and compare to students' ideas of Australian Identity today. Create a class collection of objects to reflect their ideas of Australia in the present.

Favourite object response

Ask students to explore the Migration collection and choose an object that interests them.

Have students explain why they chose the object and what they have learnt from investigating the collection.

Other activities

Continue the Our Stories research begun prior to the excursion (or begin it after the excursion).

Use the Small Object Big Story online resource to develop your own class exhibition.

Use the Making History online resource to develop a digital history project for your class or year level.


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