Family Learning Forum

A Project of the USS Constitution Museum

Holystoning: Making Work Fun

by USS Constitution Museum Team

Holystoning the Deck
  • Others’ work is unfamiliar and can be fun to do!
  • Sampling chores from the past encourages visitors to compare/contrast to the present

Why it works

Children visiting Conner Prairie living history museum in Fishers, IN will sweep the floor, make the bed or wash dishes when asked to by costumed interpreters! At other museums children churn (imaginary) butter in Indianapolis, build a (foam) stonewall at Sturbridge Village, carry buckets of (imaginary) water in Wenham, MA and scrub the deck here at the USS Constitution Museum. When children can see the impact of their efforts, the activity is even more powerful.

Why should I use this technique?

These full-body kinesthetic experiences are both an outlet for energy and a moment to pause and reflect on the similarities or differences between the past and the present. These activities set the seed for a conversation at home, when water rushes effortlessly from the tap, or butter comes neatly wrapped in paper. Conversational prompts in the exhibit area can encourage families to discuss these issues on-site or after leaving the museum.