Experiencing American History

Our programs feature experiences with real objects in a real place. Getting close to primary sources like buildings, landscape and artifacts provides a tangible connection to the past. On tours, students are guided to strengthen their visual literacy and critical thinking skills through careful observation of historic spaces and the objects that furnish them. Student learning is enhanced when they participate in activities that engage multiple senses: they may card wool, weave on a loom, feel the warmth of the hearth fire, or enjoy the aroma of herbs growing in the cooks’ garden. Some programs feature a craft or project that students may take back to the classroom.

Field Trips to Historic Deerfield

School Programs offered for the September 2019-June 2020 Academic Year

Our museum’s educational programs are designed to offer teachers and students a chance to explore American history in a rural New England village setting. The activities enhance classroom learning through access to primary sources, historic artifacts, and buildings, and are aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and the Common Core.

Place-Based Learning

Students in grades K-12 discover what life might have been like in the farming community of Deerfield in the 18th and early 19th centuries through active learning. Our programs feature hands-on, skills-based lessons that improve visual literacy, critical thinking, and connecting the past with the present. Content emphasizes teamwork, observation, and analytical skills as students explore in a village landscape Historic Deerfield’s unique collection of historic houses and artifacts.

Historic Deerfield’s educational programs offer teachers and students a chance to explore American history in a rural New England village setting through the following K-12 school programs: 


Explore the Past

(gr. 3–8) provides students with an opportunity to experience many aspects of 18th-century life through active learning. The journey back to the past includes:

  • An interpreted walk through the village to the one-room schoolhouse where the students will write with quill pen and ink,

  • a guided scavenger hunt at the home of the Sheldons, a farm family who lived in the house between 1780 and 1810,

  • a hands-on fibers and textile experience that includes carding wool and weaving,

  • and an open-hearth cooking lesson where students learn to read an historic recipe and help the cook prepare a baked dish.


Colonial Life Long Ago

(gr. K–2) is designed for younger students to learn about life in the past. Activities are paced to provide interactive and engaging instruction and can include:

  • carding wool,

  • helping to mix batter or churn butter in the kitchen,

  • reading a story with hands-on props,

  • playing games,

  • or making a simple craft.

  • This program can include a visit to the One Room Schoolhouse.



New! Be A Museum Curator

(gr. 7–12) is designed to teach middle and high school students how to use primary sources and objects to design an exhibit based on objects in Historic Deerfield’s collection. Students will:

  • tour the galleries at the Flynt Center of Early New England Life,

  • handle reproduction objects and work collaboratively using critical thinking and analytical skill to organize them into thematic groups,

  • design an exhibit where they think creatively about topics and write descriptive exhibition labels.

  • Students may continue to work virtually on their exhibit back at school by using Historic Deerfield’s online collections database.


A Day in a One-Room Schoolhouse

(gr. 2–6) teaches aspects of daily life and history in early 19th-century New England through an immersive experience in one of our historic buildings, the 1839 Wapping Schoolhouse. The school day is conducted by a Museum Guide much as it would have been in the early 1800s and includes lessons in reading, recitation, spelling, and math.

NEW THIS YEAR! Take your Class to the Schoolhouse:

Elementary school teachers are invited to bring their own class to the One Room Schoolhouse and teach their regular class here. We host you and provide quill pens, ink and paper, and slates and chalk. The Classroom Teacher brings their own lessons and teaches them in the 1839 Wapping Schoolhouse. A Museum Guide will assist the teacher and provide instruction for recess games like rolling hoops. Students and teachers are encouraged to come in costume and bring their lunch in a “dinner pail.” 


New: Native Homelands and English Homelots

(gr. 7-12) explores the local history of the Connecticut River Valley in the 17th and 18th centuries with a focus on the importance of land in the context of settler colonialism. In this program, students explore contrasting concepts of Native homeland and English settlement, and land use vs. land ownership.

  • A pre-visit mapping exercise orients the students to the geography of the Pocumtuck Homeland and the English village of Deerfield.

  • Students explore primary sources (e.g. a map or a deed) using math and critical thinking skills to draw an English homelot boundary as an overlay onto Pocumtuck lands.

  • A hands-on lesson with reproduction objects important to both Pocumtuck people and English settlers requires students to use deductive reasoning.

  • Weather permitting, students will collect samples of native and introduced plants along the Channing Blake Footpath to make an herbarium back in the classroom.

  • A hearth cooking lesson focuses on English settlers and their use and adaptation of native food sources during the Colonial period.

  • Pre-visit materials will be sent to prepare for the field trip to Historic Deerfield.

Information and Reservations:

Each field visit to Historic Deerfield is approximately 2.5 hours long with a rotation of prearranged activities. One adult per 10 students is admitted free of charge. Additional adults pay the student rate. We require one adult for every ten students for grades 3–12, and one adult for every five students for grades Pre-K–2. Adults are expected to assist museum staff with supervision, and must remain with their group at all times. Field trips have a maximum of 50 students with the exception of the One-Room Schoolhouse programs, which has a maximum of 25 students.

Field trips can be customized upon request with additional activities and experiences.

Groups are encouraged to bring a bag lunch and picnic on the grounds  outside Hall Tavern where there are picnic tables and public restrooms. There are also picnic tables inside the Harry Brown Barn in case of rain.

Rates: $6 per student. (Minimum field trip program fee is $60 with hearth cooking or $40 without hearth cooking.)

Please contact Education Program Coordinator, at 413-775-7217, or

Once your program is confirmed, you will be sent a confirmation letter, information for teachers, and directions to Historic Deerfield.