It’s time again to go back to school and at the National Museum of American History that means we get ready to create exciting experiences for students. This fall we are making an extra effort to welcome school groups with Fall Fridays.
From September 7 through November 16, we are offering historical theater and interactive activities every Friday from 10 AM to 1 PM. Students can join a civil rights sit-in at the Greensboro lunch counter or learn science with Joseph Henry, who in 1846 became the first secretary of the Smithsonian. Hands-on carts and gallery interpreters will be also available for students to discover history. So much is happening on Friday mornings!
How should teachers get started? Check out the school visits web page for suggestions on logistics such as bus drop-off locations, chaperone-student ratios, and group lunch sales. And don’t miss our pre-visit videos for teachers and students. They are packed with helpful tips. Be sure to look at the events page, too, for specific program times, then visit an information desk upon arrival to find out what hands-on carts and interpreters are on the floor.
As always, admission to the Museum is free and reservations are not required, but we kindly ask teachers to register their group. Doing so helps us learn more about our student visitors—information we use to craft better programs and materials. The registration form is also the place to request special accommodations such as sign language interpreters (please give us 1-2 weeks notice).
To set the stage for a visit, teachers should check out the pre- and post-visit sheets for our living history programs on the Greensboro sit-ins, Join the Student Sit-Ins, and visit our OurStory website for activity sets featuring historical literature for students. I recommend the ones for the John Bull (All Aboard the Train) and the Star-Spangled Banner (Making the Star-Spangled Banner) since the related objects are on view, easy to find, and fun to explore with groups. And, as always, if you can’t visit the Museum, you can find resources for your classroom (including video versions of our theater programs) on Smithsonian’s History Explorer.
We look forward to meeting you during Fall Fridays!
Julia Garcia is an interpretive specialist at the National Museum of American History.