5 mins with…Claire Smith

Claire Smith is our Learning  Assistant and part of our Visitor Services team, so if you’ve been to MERL recently, you will probably have met her! This week she’s been busy preparing for the school holidays, and has learnt a new skill…


What have you been working on this week? This week I’ve been working on getting the new summer holiday activities ready – in particular the new Animal Trail. Fred, the museum’s Conservator, kindly fixed all the animals in place for me in various places all around the garden. I then wrote a quiz sheet, with clues for which animals to look for and where to find them. Also for the garden, I’ve had a big sort-out of all of our summer games. We now have several boxes of activities that children of all ages can play with outside, from the ever-popular Egg and Spoon Race, to a giant Snakes & Ladders board!

One of the animals on our new Animal Trail in the garden

One of the animals on our new Animal Trail in the garden

I also had a spinning lesson, from a member of the Berkshire Spinners, Weavers & Dyers Guild. We recently acquired a spinning wheel for the Learning department, so I need to learn how to use it so that I can demonstrate it for future activities. My next task is to make sure that all of our drop spindles (borrowed from the Ure Museum) are in good condition, before our Super Spinning workshop next week.

Claire trying out her new-found spinning skills

Claire trying out her new-found spinning skills

The lovely thing about the role of Learning Assistant is that it’s different all the time! Each week I come up with a different activity for the Toddler Time group, trying to keep the theme related to the museum and garden. I’m also involved with family activities during the school holidays. We recently finalised our workshops for October half term and the Big Draw, and we’re already making plans for Christmas and the New Year. We’ll be showcasing material from our Huntley & Palmer archive, to make Victorian Christmas cards and biscuit boxes – biscuits not included, sadly!   How will you be involved in the Our Country Lives project? From a Learning point of view, my main involvement at this stage is in feeding back my experience of working with families around the museum, and contributing ideas on how to improve the visitor experience for families. I also work as part of the Visitor Services team, which means I can collect feedback and think about improving the visitor experience for all of our different audiences, from the moment they first arrive at the museum.

2 thoughts on “5 mins with…Claire Smith

  1. It was the topic of Overshoes as used on horseshoes to protect lawns that brought me to your wonderful site.In Ireland I found the same shoe made in the same UK forge but here the application I discovered was to protect golf course surfaces.That would be my favourite object! I hope to visit your Museum sometime soon

  2. Pingback: My Favourite Object #3: Horse overshoes, or lawn slippers - The MERL

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