Going for a walk: Have a student describe the details of their surroundings to the group as they “walk” an imaginary path through the diorama. What do they see, feel, hear, and smell? The other students should use these clues to guess where the path ends. Nice activity for partners, as well.
Once upon a time: Compose a story about the exhibit as a group, with each student contributing one sentence (or several, if you have a small bunch). Narrate the first sentence or two. It may be helpful to pass along a physical object to indicate the next contributor.
Trace that shape: Direct student attention to a particular exhibit element. Have students lift their hand to eye-level, and trace the silhouette of the object on an invisible canvas. This promotes focus on form and line. Would they be able to draw the object from memory? Next, have students trace the object with their toes on a canvas at their feet! Can they trace the shape with their elbow?
Squat short, stretch tall: To support kinesthetic learning, involve the students physically when describing aspects of the display. When observing the forest floor, have students squat. If looking at the forest canopy, stretch those arms up high! Can you see far into the background, with your hands shading your eyes? Use gestures or poses to represent living things, and instruct students to mimic you, as you highlight key characteristics.
Periscope your view: In order to focus attention on an element :that might be overlooked, have students close one eye and form a tube in front of the other with their hands. Have them aim this viewfinder on the target object before beginning the discussion.
I spy with my little eye: A classic game that works best with busy, colorful displays. Stand before an exhibit, and make a statement such as “I spy with my little eye, something…. brown/ rough/ living/ wet /etc.” Let students guess the identity of the secret object. Or, have students work with a partner, challenging each other to find hidden details.
Stage the scene: In the open space in the center of Tusher African Hall, have large student groups (or the entire class) create a tableau with their bodies that models one of the dioramas. Several students can pose together to resemble an antelope, termite mound, mountain, or acacia bush. Don’t forget rocks and rivers! Have a student approach a museum guest: Can they guess which display the students have staged?
Mirror pose: In the open space in the center of the hall, have students stretch out both arms to create their own “zone.” Indicate an object in the display (plant, animal, landscape feature), and give students 5-10 seconds to think of how to shape their own body to resemble it. On the count of “1-2-3-Pose!” have students assume the pose immediately. Repeat with varied objects.