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 


18th-century deerfield

(gr. 3–8) provides students with an opportunity to experience many aspects of 18th-century life through active learning. The journey back to the 1700s includes:

  • A hands-on fibers experience that will help students understand the process of turning raw wool into finished textiles. Students will comb wool into long fibers, and weave on a four shaft loom.
  • An open hearth cooking lesson where students are surrounded by the sights and aromas of hearth cookery. Students help the hearth cook mix ingredients as a period dish is prepared using 18th-century kitchen tools and methods. They will have a lively discussion about family roles and food.
  • Lessons in the Schoolhouse and a Visit to the 1780s Sheldon House.


Colonial Life Long Ago

(gr. K–2) helps younger students understand what life was like in the past. Children will explore food, clothing, and shelter through a choice of four of the following activities:

  • open hearth cooking, 
  • carding wool,
  • examining a colonial tavern building,
  • playing old fashioned games,
  • taking a history walk, or
  • making an herbal sachet.




    The Apprentice’s Workshop

    (gr. 3–12) explores the role of work and labor in early New England. Students learn about apprenticeship and craftsmanship in the woodworking, weaving, or ceramics trades. Includes hands-on activities and a visit to the Flynt Center of Early New England Life to see furniture, textiles, and ceramics. Students will:

    • Use period potter’s tools,
    • Card wool, and
    • Use woodworking hand tools.

    All Historic Deerfield School Programs address the Massachusetts History/Social Science Curriculum Framework for Concepts, Skills, and Learning Standards for the grade range listed.


    A Day in a One-Room Schoolhouse

    (gr. 1–6) teaches about daily life and education in early 19th-century New England in the 1838 Wapping Schoolhouse. School is taught as it would have been in the early 1800s. Activities may include:

    • A math or “ciphering” lesson using slate pencils and slates,
    • A writing lesson using real quill pens and ink,
    • A reading lesson using early text books, and
    • A recess period where the children may play with reproduction toys and games.


    Tea and Revolution

    (gr. 3–8) addresses the political issues of the American Revolution as well as the role of global trade goods in daily life. Students will:

    • explore the role of tea in daily life at an open hearth cooking demonstration, 
    • practice etiquette at a tea party, 
    • take a liberty walk down the Street, and
    • see the home of the loyalist minister, the Rev. Jonathan Ashley.

    Information and Reservations:

    Each field visit to Historic Deerfield is approximately 2 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.

    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 Claire Carlson, 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.