As a museum educator and all-around nerd for museums, I’m happy to report museums across the country are answering the call for digital outreach to students of all ages during this time of social distancing. A majority of this outreach has been constructed for use by classroom educators and the families of students now looking for at-home resources. From a professional perspective, this adjustment by many museums has occurred rapidly and with great energy which is refreshing to see in such an extraordinary time. As the Education Director with The Castle Historic House Museum, and as an aforementioned museum nerd, I’ve been keeping up-to-date with many of these new offerings and thought that sharing these resources might be of use to families across the MOV. The following are a few of my selections for history education resources available online for students of all ages.
The Castle Historic House Museum – Marietta, OH
At The Castle, we are eagerly figuring out ways to respond to the needs of educational outreach. Currently, we have digitized The Castle Coloring Book as a means for families to enjoy their time together with a little historical education and creativity. Over the next few weeks we will be highlighting a few of these pages via our website and social media with chances for you to win a free pass to tour the museum this season if you share with us your finished coloring page! More is in the works such as sharing some historical craft ideas.
Follow along at: Marietta Castle and via our Facebook and Instagram
Ohio History Connection – Columbus, OH
Ohio History Connection’s “Learn at Home” has great Ohio centered activities for grades K – 12 as well as some resources for adults. For students, resources include lesson plans, crafts, and videos such as “Prehistoric Storytime” which incorporates fun storybooks with museum artifacts. They have also provided a resource list to home learning opportunities from the Smithsonian, Cincinnati Zoo, Cleveland Zoo, COSI, and more.
Check out these resources at: Ohio History Connection
George Washington’s Mount Vernon – Mount Vernon, VA
The home of our first president will be hosting a daily Facebook live sessions throughout the week including tours of the mansion. They have also made available several online resources such as a virtual tour of the mansion, access to collections and exhibits, and fun coloring pages, games, and quizzes. One really cool resource is the Be Washington activity which is “a first-person interactive leadership experience” where players essentially face the same quandaries George Washington faced in the Revolution and as president. As Washington you’ll have to weigh advice from trusted advisers and make the decisions Washington faced. It comes complete with lesson plans connected to each decision area.
Check out these resources at: mountvernon.org/onlinelearning and via their Facebook page (George Washington’s Mount Vernon)
Colonial Williamsburg – Williamsburg, VA
The largest outdoor living history museum in the US has prepared materials for online learning which include an interactive timeline of the Stamp Act, a quiz on 18th-century knowledge, historical recipes (I’d recommend the Chelsea Buns), access to online collections, and coloring pages of museum artifacts.
Check out these resources at: Colonial Williamsburg
Plimoth Plantation – Plymouth MA
The “History at Home” provided by Plimoth Plantation is a series of our engaging online videos discussing the culture of the pilgrims and native peoples of the Wampanoag tribe. You will need to register online for your selections of the four video sessions at a nominal fee of $10 per program.
Check out this resource at: Plimoth Plantation
This is by no means a comprehensive list, but is a great start to exploring online educational outreach from museums. At the very least, these are resources which will mesh well with Ohio and West Virginia state curriculum for elementary level students. You can find virtual tours available online for many, if not most, renowned museums and historic sites. You can even take a tour of Buckingham Palace if you wish. Other museums offering online sources you might wish to explore are Old Salem Museums & Gardens, Historic Richmond Town, and the National WWI Museum and Memorial. There are plenty more out there that you can explore, so hopefully this list is just a starting point of your foray into virtual history education. I also hope this article is useful in providing your household with educational, fun, and creative opportunities to explore history!