Telling Stories with Objects, High School


How do objects help us understand the story of Wisconsin?


  • Why do we save things?
  • What makes the things we save important?
  • What questions can objects help us answer?
  • How do we unlock the meanings of an object?


Wisconsin Standards for Social Studies

Social Studies Inquiry Practices and Processes

  • Construct meaningful questions that initiate an inquiry. (Inq1)
  • Gather and evaluate sources. (Inq2)
  • Develop claims using evidence to support reasoning. (Inq3)
  • Communicate and critique conclusions. (Inq4)

Behavioral Science

  • Assess the role that human behavior and cultures play in the development of social endeavors (Anthropology). (BS3)
  • Examine the progression of specific forms of technology and their influence within various societies. (BS4)


  • Analyze how decisions are made and interactions occur among individuals, households, and firms/businesses (Microeconomics). (Econ2)


  • Evaluate the relationship between identity and place. (Geog4)
  • Evaluate the relationship between humans and the environment. (Geog4)


  • Using historical evidence for determining cause and effect. (Hist1)
  • Analyze, recognize, and evaluate patterns of continuity and change over time and contextualization of historical events. (Hist2)
  • Connect past events, people, and ideas to the present, use different perspectives to draw conclusions, and suggest current implications. (Hist3)
  • Evaluate a variety of primary and secondary sources to interpret the historical context, intended audience, purpose, and/or author’s point of view (Historical Methodology). (Hist4)

Political Science

  • Examine and interpret rights, privileges, and responsibilities in society. (PS2)
  • Develop and employ skills for civic literacy. (PS3)


Educational Goal Assessment
  • Identify the role objects play in representing history and people’s stories.
  • Analyze how a group of objects recount history and stories?
  • Compare and contrast how people of different abilities experience museum exhibits.
  • Evaluate the importance of an object.
  • Interpret the importance of the object through story telling.
Suggested Performance Task

Students can show achievement through completion of these outcomes:

Activity #1, A Larger Story

  • Have students visit a local museum to evaluate an exhibit. Their focus will be on the benefits of using multiple objects to tell a story as opposed to one object. After their visit the students will write a paper detailing the story that is told through the objects in the exhibition. (Have the students use the guide, A Larger Story, in the downloadable lesson plan to evaluate the exhibit)

Activity #2, Creating an Exhibition

  • The class will create an exhibition from the objects that reflect their class. Each student is responsible for bringing two or three objects that represent them and/or their class. The students need to create an Exhibition title, define a theme, create an introductory label, and create subthemes as a class. Each student is then responsible for selecting the objects that best tell the story of their interviewee and creating object labels and group label for their selected objects. (Use the attached sources to understand the different types of museum labels.)

Activity #3, Creating an Experience for All

  • Have students use an object from Activity #2, Their Story Objectified, to rewrite an object label for hearing and visually impaired visitors. Think about how a visual or hearing impaired person can best experience your class’s exhibition. First students will evaluate their current exhibit and think of ways to rewrite or rework their objects and exhibit for those with hearing and visual difficulties. (Use PowerPoint to present information on Museum labels and use the handout in the downloadable lesson plan, Creating Labels for All, to guide the students on this activity.) Have the class put their exhibition up for the public.