by James McClelland
The Canadian War Museum offers a hands-on education tool that features both “authentic and reproduction artifacts” (Canadian War Museum: CWM) from the First World War to be used in schools across Canada. The service is completely free of charge: the museum will ship the box to your school and following the allotted 2-week period, the box can be returned through the mail with prepaid postage. This project is made possible through funding by the R. Howard Webster Foundation, Operation Veteran and individual donors.
Booking and Online Service
When using this service, the online portal is useful and includes a description of all materials and documents along with photos of all 22 artifacts. The webpage includes 4 tabs related to the resource: About Supply Line, FAQs, Book a Box, and Teacher Resources. Reserving a box is simple and straightforward. There are two booking seasons, one that opens in August for the fall semester (September-January) and one that opens November for the winter/spring semesters (February-June). Discovery boxes are distributed on a first come, first served basis, and schools can only book one 2-week period per semester. Schools can provide a preferred date to receive the box, but due to the limited number of boxes in circulation (25), no guarantee can be made for arrival date. A support line is available if problems occur with the scheduled shipment of the resource.
The Supply Line box is contained within a large box with wheels for ease of use. Its approximate weight is 60 pounds (27 kg) and “can usually be transported by one adult” (CWM). Apart from the artifacts, you will find “a teacher’s manual containing packing instructions, artifact checklists, supplementary resources and hard copies of the lesson plans” (CWM). These documents are also available online if you wish to have a digital copy. Instructions are presented in French and English. The Teacher Resource Binder included in the discovery box contains hard copies of lesson plans, artifact backgrounds, contextual photos and artifact information labels. The lesson plans are curriculum-linked and intended for K-12 instruction; everything needed to teach a lesson is provided. The box and resources “have been developed by experts at Canada’s War Museum” (CWM). Should the box be lost or stolen, “the cost to replace a box is $2,007” (CWM) and the school is responsible for this sum.
Included Artifacts and Documents
Clothing/Equipment: Service dress cap, small box respirator (gas mask), puttees (ankle and knee protective wraps), gas alarm rattle, trench periscope, service dress jacket, nurse apron, helmet, aviator’s scarf, shoulder badge and military pin.
Miscellaneous: Ammunition casings/shells, posters, photographs, war artwork, flags, barbed wire, shrapnel bullets, trench art (made by soldiers using available materials), and attestation documents.
Practical Use and Limitations of Resource
In regards to curriculum considerations, this resource is best suited in an integrated unit. Junior level Social Studies curriculum focuses heavily upon events pre-20th century, and so direct links with this resource may be difficult. The War Museum does however provide lessons and plans for students in grades k-12. The adaptive expert should be ready to make modifications to their unit plans when booking the Supply Line box as arrival dates are not guaranteed. Some suggestions on integration include incorporation of the box into language arts with a look at war-time poetry (John McCrae’s “In Flanders Fields”), artwork, propaganda, film, music and parades. Teachers may also involve mathematics and the economy of war-time production/costs.
The Supply Line box is accommodated for various learning styles, as students have access to conventional handouts and lessons plans, but also have the opportunity to interact with artifacts. One student testimonial explained the noticeable improvement, given that the class was “using all our senses rather than just reading about [World War 1]” (CTV News). One school teacher also expressed how the service afforded remote schools as many would not be financially capable to bring students to national museums. Additional student testimonials suggested that more conflicts and world events be curated into similar boxes for educational purposes.
“For Educators: Canadian War Museum – Supply Line.” Juno Beach. Retrieved October 28, 2017. https://www.junobeach.org/for-educators-canadian-war-museum-supply-line/
Oliver, Julie. “War Museum Shipping Original First World War Items to Schools.” Originally published in The Ottawa Citizen. Retrieved October 29, 2017. http://ww1.canada.com/after-the-war/war-museum-shipping-original-first-world-war-items-to-schools-to-enhance-student-learning
Supply Line Box. Canadian War Museum. Retrieved on October 17 2017. http://www.warmuseum.ca/supplyline/about-supply-line/
“Supply Line Brings War to Life for Students.” CTV News. Retrieved October 28, 2017. http://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/remembranceday/supply-line-program