We at the Essex County Museum and Historical Society have a variety of school programs to offer your lesson planning. These activities can be presented either at the museum or in your own classroom. Please reserve 30 days in advance from October through May. The month of December is not available due to Holidays and previous commitments by the Museum.

Lessons have recommended grade levels, however, you may choose any combination based on your class aptitude, interest, age and time available. Group size is limited to 20 students, if presentation is at the museum. A sample of the reservation request is attached for your planning. All lessons are in compliance with Virginia’s S.O.L.’s.

Most lessons offer hands-on activities. Each lesson includes take home items that can be copied for use in the classroom or at home. Time estimates are also listed for your planning.

Some of these lessons focus on adult groups.

We offer programs Tuesday through Friday 9:30 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. either at the museum or in your respective classroom. We will try to accommodate any other requests than those offered.

Reservations can be made by calling the museum at (804) 443 4690 any day except Wednesdays, Sundays and Holidays. Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. or visit our web site for more detail , or by contacting Director of Education,

We look forward to serving your educational interests and needs.

1. ARCHAEOLOGY: Students will learn through visual aids, discussion, and hands-on, the meaning of Archaeology, the equipment and methods used to identify artifacts. They will learn the importance Archaeology has on the history of our nation. Recommended grade level : third and above.

ESTIMATED TIME: 25 – 30 minutes

HANDS – ON: Sifting sand and uncovering a variety of artifacts.

TAKE HOME: Vocabulary listing, Archaeological anagram, picture for coloring, diploma.

2. BLACK HISTORY OVERVIEW, ESSEX COUNTY: Attendees will be given an overview of different segments of African American life in Essex. These segments highlight the different times in our county’s history and some of the African Americans who provided significant contributions within and outside the community. This activity offers presentation to students and/or adult groups.

ESTIMATED TIME: 30 – 35 minutes

HANDS – ON: None

TAKE HOME: Copy of menu from Mark Haven’s Beach.

3. CHESAPEAKE BAY, MARINE LIFE, WATERMEN, AND ZEUGLODON: Students will learn through discussion and visual aids and hands-on activites information relating to the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, economic and environmental aspects of the waterways, the rivers, marine life, and pre-historic life. The job of the Waterman and John Smith’s exploration will also be topics for discussion. Recommended grade level : fourth grade and above.

ESTIMATED TIME: 35 – 40 minutes

HANDS-ON: Use of hand-outs to identify marine life and pre-historic life.

TAKE HOME: Glossary, copy of “What people can do to save the Bay”, picture of a pre-historic mammal (Zeuglodon).

4. CHESAPEAKE BAY ENVIRONMENTAL AND OYSTER CASTLES:: This lesson provides more in depth analysis of the environmental concerns of the waterways and the efforts to maintain a healthy aquatic life. Recommended for 5th and 6th grades

ESTIMATED TIME: 40 – 45 minutes

HANDS – ON: Constructing an Oyster Castle

TAKE HOME: Glossary, Save the Bay, Waterman background, Word search.

5. HISTORY OF CORN: Students will learn the origin of corn, different types of corn, geography of corn, and experience, by hands on, the earliest means and methods of preparing dried corn for grits. ( An 11 minute video of a local water powered grist mill will be shown for indoor presentation.) Recommended grade level : 4th to 6th

ESTIMATED TIME: 30 – 35 minutes

HANDS – ON: Grinding corn into meal, using a mortar and pestle

TAKE HOME: Vocabulary listing, instructions for making a corn husk doll and wreath, map of Corn Belt States, listing of different types of corn.

6. JOHN SMITH’S EXPLORATION, JAMESTOWN SETTLEMENT, TOBACCO AND POCAHONTAS: Students will learn through discussion and visual aids the importance of John Smith’s exploration, the waterways he surveyed, and the Indian tribes he encountered and the influence they had on him. They will learn the significance of Jamestown and the importance of Tobacco, and the important role Pocahontas had on the settlement’s survival. Recommended grade level: 4th - 5th

ESTIMATED TIME: 30 minutes

HANDS – ON: Copy of John Smith’s voyage map to identify waterways and Indian tribes encounteredPicture of Tobacco leaf to  identify  the use of  the different leaf  layers.

TAKE HOME:Vocabulary list, initial voyage facts, outlines of John Smith, Pocahontas, and Jamestown Settlement, pictures of Indian village.

7. NATIVE INDIANS AND WATERWAYS: Students will through use of visual aids and discussion demonstrate knowledge of physical geography and native people, past and present. Reference to John Smith and the Steamboat Era will be included. Recommended grade level: 4th - 6th

ESTIMATED TIME: 35 – 40 minutes

HANDS – ON: Interaction with pictorial maps and waterways.

TAKE HOME:National Historic trail map, Listing of waterways and Indians, Tribes/Chiefdoms recorded by John Smith, picture of Indian village, Rappahannock River tributaries.

8. THE RIVER THEN AND NOW: To provide students with an understanding and appreciation for the history of the river and how the changes in trade, steam-boating, land use and population growth redefined the region environmentally and economically. A review of John Smith’s voyage and Indian culture will also be discussed. Recommended grade level: 4th and above

ESTIMATED TIME: 45 minutes

HANDS-ON: Using a map of the river will follow a simulated navigational path of the steamboats and location of the ferries which crisscrossed the river.

TAKE HOME: Steamboat fact sheet

Students will learn through visual aids and discussion the transformation from settlements to towns, city life vs. plantation life, clothing, pastimes, travel, transportation, and various occupations.( An 11 minute video of the miller’s job is included ). Recommended grade level: third grade through fifth.

ESTIMATED TIME: 45 minutes

HANDS – ON: None

TAKE HOME: Vocabulary list, colonial talk list, pictures of anvil, pottery maker, brickmaker, and examples of blacksmith’s work.

10. 18TH CENTURY SCHOOL ROOM EXPERIENCE: Students will participate in an 18th century classroom exercise for both boys and girls via discussion, visual aids and hands-on activities. They will experience a typical day by reviewing learning tools, writing on slates , Latin and Greek lessons, geography, and celestial navigation. They will also learn about the type of pastime activities the children engaged in. The importance of the Declaration of Independence will also be included. Recommended grade level: third through fifth

ESTIMATED TIME: 40 minutes

HANDS – ON: Writing on slates and reviewing hornbooks

TAKE HOME: Vocabulary list, colonial talk, how to make a hornbook and whirligig.


A: PICTORIAL TOUR FOR NON-WALKERS, BACKGROUND: This presentation is designed for those people who are unable to do much or no walking at all. 12 sites within the Historic Area have been photographed and each will be discussed relative to its individual history. This lesson can be presented in nursing homes or to a group visiting the area. If in the museum there would be a limit of 20 people. Advance reservations are required.

ESTIMATED TIME: 35-40 minutes

TAKE HOME: Copy of walking tour map. Background articles on Tappahannock and the Steamboat Era, and Wharves.

B: FOR STUDENTS: The tour starts with a museum tour. The tour then will exit to Prince St. and follow the route of historic homes and sites including the River, which was the hub of activity in the early history of Tappahannock. Students will learn about the people, land use, the importance of the river, and the impact the Steamboat Era had on the region. Note: depending on class size may need to divide into 2-3 groups.

ESTIMATED TIME: 45-60 minutes

TAKE HOME PACKET: Articles on Tappahannock, River and Steamboats, Wharves, and Downing Bridge

C: FOR ADULTS: This tour starts with a museum tour. The walking tour includes the full Historic District where the group(s) will see the original buildings and hear about the many influential citizens who were important to the beginning development of Tappahannock. At the river the group will learn about its importance and how the Steamboat Era influenced the economic, cultural and agricultural growth of the region.

ESTIMATED TIME: 60-75 minutes

TAKE HOME PACKET: Background articles of Tappahannock, the Steamboats, Wharves, Caponka, and Downing Bridge

FEE: May apply

            The above modules encompass the following S.O.L.’s.

            K.2: 1.1, 1.12, 2.2, 3.12, vs.3

            K.4; 1.4; 2.4 b-d, 3.3, 3.5, vs.2

            K.6, K.7: 1.6 1.7, 2.4a, 2.7, 2.8, 2.9, 3.7, 3.8, vs.4, 6.4, 6.5, 6.7, 6.9

Reservations can be made by calling the museum at (804) 443-4690 or download the Education Reservation Request Form and email it to our office or mail the form to: Essex County Museum/Historical Society, P O Bo 404, Tappahannock VA 22560-0404.

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