School Programs

School programs at Historic Hudson Valley bring to life the depth and breadth of American history through immersive programs designed for a range of grade levels and subject areas. Our multiple sites span the course of our nation’s history while engaging students with the past: We cover colonial America, the Revolution, America’s emergence as a new nation, the rise of industrialization, and the development of American Romanticism.

All programs are led by professionally trained interpretive staff dressed in period-appropriate clothes and include tours of historic sites and buildings, as well as hands-on activities that connect students in meaningful ways with history. 

For the 2014-15 school  year, all programs have been revised to align with the Common Core. Updates include a focus on analyzing primary documents, developing critical thinking skills, and grade-specific programs that align with national learning standards.

Descriptions of our historic sites and their different programs are below. Programs are listed by site and are organized by grade level. For a listing of programs by grade level, please see HHV School Programs by Grade (PDF). For questions about any of these programs or logistics of a visit, please visit the FAQ section. To schedule a school program at any of Historic Hudson Valley’s sites, please call our reservationist at 914.366.6988. Before you call to book your visit, please see What You Need to Know to Make a Reservation.

Seasonal Program! Legend Days

at Washington Irving's Sunnyside

September-November

Grades: 3-11 | Program length: 2 hours
$8 per person | Group limit: 60 students

at Washington Irving's Sunnyside

September-November

Grades: 3-11 | Program length: 2 hours
$8 per person | Group limit: 60 students

This multi-dimensional program explores storytelling through three engaging activities. Washington Irving’s house has been brought to life and is the perfect setting for students to sharpen their observational skills and practice creative storytelling. On a guided tour through Sunnyside, students follow clues about plot, character, and setting to create their own story of a day in the life. A woodland walk through the Romantic landscape of Sunnyside provides an immersive way to experience Irving’s folk tale “The Devil and Tom Walker.” Finally, a shadow puppet version of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” leads students in a lively discussion of the elements of literature and story creation.

At Home at Sunnyside

at Washington Irving's Sunnyside

Grades: 4-6 | Program length: 2 hours
$8 per person | Group limit: 60 students

at Washington Irving's Sunnyside

Grades: 4-6 | Program length: 2 hours
$8 per person | Group limit: 60 students

Students travel back in time to understand life in the 19th century. In a guided tour of the historic house, students learn about daily life during Irving’s time, including the children, the family, and the servants who lived at Sunnyside. At hands-on activity stations, students explore clothing and letter-writing from a historical perspective. Students examine primary documents (historic pictures of clothes and original Irving family letters), and then they have the opportunity to try on reproduction clothing and practice writing with a quill pen. The program concludes with a shadow puppet performance of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” complete with a lively discussion of the elements of literature and story creation.

 

A Cottage on the Hudson

at Washington Irving's Sunnyside

Grades: K-3 | Program length: 1½ hours
$7 per person | Group limit: 30 students

at Washington Irving's Sunnyside

Grades: K-3 | Program length: 1½ hours
$7 per person | Group limit: 30 students

Family is at the heart of this program, set at Washington Irving’s home, Sunnyside. Students will learn how Irving, once a young boy living in New York City, grew up to create an idyllic home for himself and his family on the beautiful banks of the Hudson River. Students will meet the family who lived here with Irving over 150 years ago, and as they explore the home, students will discuss differences and similarities between life in Irving’s time and life today. The program includes hands-on interactions with historic objects as well as games, stories, and songs from the 19th century.

Optional add-on: “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” Shadow Puppet Show | $1 extra per person
The performance, an abridged version that uses Irvin’s original language, brings to life the drama and theatricality of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.” Allow 20 minutes for this extra element.

 

Touching The Past

at Philipsburg Manor

Grades: 1-3 | Program length: 1¾ hours
$7 per person | Group limit: 60 students

In a program designed to focus on family and community, past and present, students explore colonial life in a tour of Philipsburg Manor that focuses on sensory experiences. Students tour the colonial manor house, including a kitchen area filled with touchable objects, and discuss how houses today differ from colonial homes. Visiting the barn/farm, activity center, and mill, students participate in actual work that would have been done on-site 250 years ago. Hands-on activities may include picking and carding wool, preparing food, and threshing wheat.


 

Millers and Merchants

at Philipsburg Manor

Grades: 4-5 | Program length: 2 hours 
$7 per person | Group limit: 60 students

In a program that explores the complex economic system of international trade in colonial America, students learn about the interconnected roles of enslaved Africans, Anglo-Dutch landowners, and tenant farmers at Philipsburg Manor. In addition to Philipse family members, students encounter Ceasar, Dimond, Sue, Abigail, and other enslaved workers who lived and worked at Philipsburg Manor. In tours of the manor house, students explore a house that also served as a hub of a thriving business operation, and through hands-on objects, they learn about the colonial trade that connected New York with Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. At the mill, barn/farm, and activity center, students learn first-hand about colonial life and work.

 

Special Event! Discover Pinkster

at Philipsburg Manor

May 13-15, 2015

Grades: 4-12 | Program length: 2 hours
$8 per person | Group limit: 100 students

Originally a celebration of spring brought to the Hudson Valley by Dutch settlers, Pinkster was adapted by Africans in the New World. The celebration provided free and enslaved Africans a rare opportunity to celebrate community and preserve and enjoy their African traditions. At the Pinkster Day celebration, students hear African folk tales and participate in African colonial dancing and drumming workshops.

PLEASE NOTE: Students should dress for the weather. Programs involve long periods of being outdoors or in unheated spaces and are held rain, snow, or shine.

2015 Dates: May 13-15
 

 

Seasonal Program! Work and Community

at Philipsburg Manor

Feb. 23-27 and March 2-6, 2015

Grades: 4-7 | Program length: 2½ hours
$450 per class | Group limit: 28 students

Students examine the structure of rural colonial society through their morning’s work: farming, milling, cooking, or clothmaking. Each student spends an hour in a small group learning a skill and discussing its significance to the community. The entire class then visits the farm, the mill, and the activity center, where students share their experiences with each other. A snack, created by students, is included.

 

Crafts & Tasks

at Van Cortlandt Manor

Grades: 3-7 | Program length: 4½ hours 
$18 per person | Group limit: 80 students

An expanded version of Reflections of Every Day Life allows students to spend more time at activity stations to participate in and observe household chores from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. These intensive experiences may include open-hearth cooking, medicine, games, tinsmith, and blacksmith.  

NOTE: Program time includes ½ hour for lunch.

Special Event! Hard Work Hand Work

at Van Cortlandt Manor

June 4-5, 8-12, 2015

Grades: 3-7 | Program length: 4½ hours 
$12 per person | Group limit: 120 students

Tin smithing, broom making, textile production, candle making, and open-hearth cooking are only a few of the engaging, hands-on activities your students experience when they participate in this program. In small groups led by museum educators in period attire, students navigate the busy landscape and gain an understanding of the skills, trades, and chores that were part of daily life on the Manor during the New Nation Era. A child-focused tour of the Manor’s historic buildings completes the educational visit. This program begins at 10:00 am and concludes at 1:45 pm, with a half-hour lunch break. (Activities may change, subject to seasonality.)

 

 

Through Young Eyes: 18th-Century Community

at Van Cortlandt Manor

Grades: K-2 | Program length: 1¾ hours 
$8 per person | Group limit: 30 students

In an exploration of individuals, families, and communities in the past and present, younger students participate in hands-on activities that help to show what life was like 200 years ago. The program includes a tour of Van Cortland Manor, plus two activity stations. Specific activity stations are subject to availability and may include churning butter, picking and carding wool, and exploring period artifacts.

Reflections of Everyday Life

at Van Cortlandt Manor

Grades: 3-7 | Program length: 2¼ hours
$9 per person | Group limit: 80 students

Discover how citizens in early America met their fundamental needs. Students explore the physical and cultural aspects of daily life through a site tour and hands-on workshops. Specific workshops are subject to availability and may include open-hearth cooking, medicine, and textiles.