Before visiting the museum

Identify the purpose of your visit

A child using a binocular

Integrate the Museum visit with a topic or unit of work. This provides students with an effective learning experience because it provides them with a context and purpose for the visit.

Browse our exhibitions and school programs to identify relevant topics. Some of our exhibitions include a learning resources section with curriculum links and ideas for before, during and after your visit.

Visit the Museum for a Teacher Preview to familiarise yourself with the Museum’s exhibitions and facilities. Contact the Group Bookings Officer to arrange free entry to any charged exhibitions during your Teacher Preview or to meet with Museum staff.

Read research on Enhancing Young Children’s Museum Experiences (3442 KB) pdf document icon as part of your planning (Prep – year 3).

Share the purpose and discuss objectives of the visit

It is important for students to understand the purpose and specific objectives of the visit, including any intended outcomes after the visit. This helps students to focus during their visit.

Establish prior knowledge and understand key concepts

Your visit may come at the start, middle or end of a unit of work. If at the start, then it would be important to establish the students’ prior knowledge. The visit to the Museum and the unit of work would aim to build on that prior knowledge.

Complete activities in class that develop student understanding of the topic and key concepts.

Use information and activities on the Museum website.

Loan objects, specimens and kits from Education Loans to assist student learning.

Develop questions that students would like to find answers to, during their visit to the Museum.

Organise groups

We encourage students to be organised into small groups before they visit the Museum. We recommend five students or less per group, with one adult helper.

Student groups are a useful teaching strategy and enable:

  • Clear roles to be established for each group member eg Leader, reader, recorder, timekeeper, collector, reporter and photographer,
  • Increased opportunities for student discussion, questioning and investigating,
  • Increased free-choice and input into decisions,
  • Support and following of student curiosity,
  • Opportunities for teamwork skill development, and
  • Greater access to exhibits, objects and interpretation.

Looking closely at insect displays.

Familiarise students with the museum

Familiarising students with the Museum prior to their visit enables students to spend more time focused on learning during their visit.

Explore themes such as:

  • What is a Museum? What is the role of a Museum and the people who work there?
  • What do you expect to find at a Museum?
    • Loaning objects from Museum Loans can be a great way to explore the types of artefacts and specimens found in a Museum.
  • What types of experiences might you have in a Museum?
  • How do you find out information at a Museum?
    • Explore the different types of interpretation used in Museum - including written, audio, multi-media and the role of staff and volunteers.
  • How do you behave in a Museum?
    • This is a good opportunity to talk about the value of objects and how to handle materials in a Museum.
    • Encourage social learning – students should talk, share ideas, ask lots of questions, get hands-on with touch specimens and interactive exhibits, use multi-media and ask questions of Museum staff.
    • The Museum is a public space and members of the public will also be using the exhibits.
  • What is the layout of the Museum?
    • Knowing the nature and location of facilities and exhibitions ensures that students will have a more focused and relaxed day. A Museum map and our website will help students with this task. 

Share the museum visit itinerary

Students will have a more focused visit and feel more relaxed if they know what they are doing for the day. Discuss with students the full timetable for the day, from the moment they leave school to the time they return. This can include:

  • How they will get to the Museum.
  • What time they will leave school and when they will arrive back.
  • What time they will arrive at the Museum and what will happen on arrival.
  • What exhibition(s) and programs they will participate in and how long they will spend in each.
  • What activities they will be expected to complete at the Museum.
  • When breaks will occur and for how long.
  • If they are able to purchase from the Museum Explorer shop.

Build time in your itinerary for:

  • Orientation
  • Rest pauses
  • Reflection and discussion
  • Re-visiting students' favourite exhibits.

Identify and inform adult helpers

Adult helpers provide the vital role of facilitating student learning, especially if your class is working in small groups.

Inform adult helpers about the purpose, objectives and concepts that will be covered during the visit. Provide an itinerary and information covered when familiarising students with the Museum.

Provide adult helpers with strategies for facilitating learning, such as questioning techniques, utilising student roles within the group, encouraging curiosity and supporting student investigation.