Attention teachers of Picker Nation: One of your very own, has created a way to use rusty gold as an extra credit opportunity. Send your teacher appreciation fruit baskets to Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, care of History teacher, Brian Strawser, at Juniata High School.

The Inspiration

Brian has been an A.P. U.S. and 20th Century U.S. History teacher for more than 20 years now and like most teachers, he was leery to offer extra credit fearing it was too easy and wouldn’t make the students work as hard. “I wanted to create a way for my students to fall in love with the subject and appreciate it for its role in the world, but was stumped on how I would do that,โ€ says Brian.

A few years ago while watching American Pickers, Brian observed how enthusiastic Mike was as he unearthed historic picks and retold their stories to the world. It was right then that Brian had the “ah ha” moment to mimic that same treasure hunt in his classroom. And just like that, the idea for “Antique Day” was risen out of the ground like a roached car grill on mega-pick.

How it Works

-Every Friday, students looking to earn some extra credit points, are invited to bring a unique antique.

-Students take turns showing their picks.

-Everyone jots down their best, educated guess as to what the item is/was used for.

-If the student successfully stumps their classmates, they’re awarded 10 points.

-If a single student guesses correctly, they’ll earn 5 of the 10 points.

-If multiple students guess correctly? A tiebreaker is created.

Left: Brian Strawser and his classroom’s collection of picks. Right: Brenna shows here classmates an antique elephant cigarette dispenser.

โ€œAntique Day has been a great way for my students to interact beyond the classroom with their grandparents or any person from a previous generation,” says Brian. “American Pickers is an important tool to tie the past to the present and I am excited to be able to encourage that same attitude within my students.”

What do you think about Brian’s extra credit through rusty gold? Whose classroom is next to try Antique Day? Pin and share with your other teacher friends who are looking for some extra credit classroom options!



22 thoughts on “Antique Day: Pickin’ for Extra Credit”

  1. Marlene Conner

    I love the idea of Antique Day…..hooray for Brian Strawser! Montana teachers should be doing something like that….we have lots of history here and Montana history would be a lot more fun with kids being able to think about their own heritage with items from their grandparents and before. Hopefully this idea will catch on here and many more places in this good old US of A. Thanks Brian.

    1. Sarah Buckholtz Post Author

      We’re excited to see everyone loving Brian’s Antique Day idea! It really is a brilliant way to get kids excited about history. We hope you spread the word over there in Montana, Marlene!

  2. Sherry Nipple

    I think it is an awesome idea!! I love American Pickers. I have learned a lot about antiques from their show and I think the kids can learn a lot by doing hands on!! I think extra credit day will give kids the incentive to perticipate!

  3. Brian

    Thanks everyone for positive comments about our extra credit antique day. Kids always enjoy it. You never know what’s going to come through the door.

  4. Tony Kirk

    What a great idea. I hated history at school but it’s now one of my favourite pass times. I will be recommending your idea to the local school here in the UK. Good teachers with good ideas make a massive difference to our children’s life’s.

  5. Peggy van Wunnik

    I love the fact that you are using an unconventional method of teaching your students that history is more than just a sequence of events. My high school civics teacher gave us an extra credit project to do a family tree, and I began a years-long journey to learn more about my roots. In addition, my questions to my grandfather about his ancestors (many of which he couldn’t answer) got him hooked on genealogy and led to thousands of happy hours spent traveling & researching. Curiosity inspires us to learn, so way to go!

  6. Benny

    Why does it have to be extra credit? As a retired American History teacher (1982) had this show been around while I was teaching I would have incorporated it in to my lesson plans. As a matter of fact I did in a way because I used to have a project whereby each student chose a year from 1945 to present and did a full class day report using as many visuals as they could find showing how the typical American lived in that year and what they wore and what their social and cultural life was like. I used to get some spectacular reports as well as some spectacular duds. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Chad Campbell

    I had a 7th grade History teacher by the name of Mr. Miller who did a similar extra credit weekly project. He was an antique and collectible collector and would bring in obscure collectible and antiques into the classroom every week. He’d display the items on a table in the back corner of the class room. It was our job as students to figure out what the item was and what it was used for.

    This was back before cell phones and the internet in the 1990’s so it made figuring out what he had that much harder. Luckily my parents took me the the local flea markets and antique shops as a kid and we would regularly run into Mr. Miller usually with the item he planned to bring in the following week. My dad had a knack for figuring out what some of the older stuff was too.

    I really enjoyed his class, it was never a dull moment. He made learning fun and interesting and I really came away with a lot at the end of the year. Even to this day I still like antiques and collectible. I personally collect vintage Pennsylvania breweriana advertising (beer collectibles); my wife and I decorate our house with antiques and repurposed and salvaged items too.

  8. Katy cunningham

    Wish I were still teaching.(now retired!) I’d use this in a shot!!! Will share with my teacher friends. Love the hands on aspect as well as the valuable historical instruction. Great way to break away from the constant focus on current technology!

  9. Wendy Wilkins Valdez

    I think it’s a great idea, but I’d love it if the students were also asked to try to associate the item with a period of history and why. I hated history in school. I opted out as soon as they provided an alternative choosing instead a half year of ethnic studies and another of current events because I thought those are more relevant courses (civil rights era combined with being a smart-assed senior). When I began doing genealogy after graduation, I realized how relevant history was. I believe his approach also does that and would have lived to have had him as a history teacher. I already loved antiques, but had never associated them in a historical context. Too bad.

  10. Bobette Giorgi

    This is excellent teaching. I hope it sparks interest in students so they stop buying IKEA junk and instead furnish their rooms with cool stuff representing America’s history. The Common Core crap they are learning in schools is indoctrinating all of America’s children into “global citizens” with no appreciation for America or our history.

  11. Anakin Rogers

    Stuff like this makes me want to become a U.S. History teacher. My current U.S. History teacher and the Pickers help with that.

  12. Bobb Losse, Sr

    Many years ago my very good friend, Les Keating, would show me his latest acquisitions. He was an antique tool collector extraordinaire!! He had dozens and dozens of wood planes, a complete dentist’s office, a complete harness maker’s shop and tons of kitchen tools and carpenter’s tools. It was always a challenge to try to identify something new. Those were great times. I miss them and him.

  13. Lauren K

    Mike, great post ๐Ÿ™‚ I homeschool, and use your show as a learning resource in the evening. My 11 year old tries to guess what price you’ll ask for something, and is usually now spot on.

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