On November 16th, 2016, the Penn Libraries hosted a school trip for 46 first and second graders from South Philadelphia’s Southwark Elementary School in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.
The two classes that visited were both English as a Second Language (ESL) classes. The students had varying degrees of proficiency in English, but were all able to enjoy the hands on activities led by the Library staff.
The visit was organized around the current exhibit in the Goldstein Family Gallery, Reactions: Medieval/Modern, which explores medieval manuscripts and the ways people have responded to them from the Middle Ages to today. The Penn Libraries donated copies of a children’s book about medieval manuscripts to the Southwark classes before their visit, so the students would have relevant context.
Once the students arrived at the Kislak Center, they participated in three separate activities. First, they explored the exhibit in the Goldstein Gallery as they completed a scavenger hunt about the various items on display. Next, they were able to see a medieval manuscript from Kislak’s collection up close, under the supervision of Dot Porter. Using the overhead camera in Vitale II, the students were able to examine the illuminations in the manuscript and talk about how it compared to what they had read in the children’s book. Finally, Sarah Reidell and Sibylla Shekerdjiska-Benatova supervised a hands-on art activity in the Class of ‘78 Pavillion. The children used a stamp to print their own medieval book plate, which they colored in and were able to take home with them. The stamp was actually produced and customized by the Kislak staff, who used an image from the collections as a template.
The students and teachers were very excited about all the activities, and look forward to visiting the Kislak Center again in the spring.