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Local Museums Extend Classroom Learning With School Tours, And More!


In addition to its fascinating Gold Rush past, the Sacramento area is rich with an amazing array of state-of-the-art museums and historic sites that offer visitors the chance to explore California’s fine art, history, science and wildlife treasures. Open to the public most days all year long, many of the 30 members of Sacramento Area Museums offer group tours, hands-on activities and interpretive experiences tailored for local students that help to extend learning and add depth to topics covered in the classroom.

Below is a sampling of some of the school tour offerings for the 2018-2019 school year.     

California Automobile Museum

The California Automobile Museum offers a variety of school programs for kindergarteners through 8th grade. Their programs support Common Core Standards and are designed to educate students about the way automobiles – and the science and history behind them – have help shaped our society. Tours are interactive and designed to engage the imagination of students. Students can even participate in an assembly line exercise as part of the popular Motor Works tour. For more, please visit CalAutomuseum.org.

California Museum

The California Museum’s education programs and field trip tours offer engaging, interactive learning opportunities for K-12 grade students corresponding with exhibits on the state’s history, arts and culture of diversity for 50,000 participants each year. Aligned with History-Social Science, Common Core English Language Arts, Civics outcomes and CASEL Core Social-Emotional Learning Competencies, all programs include lesson plans, activity sheets and free teacher admission, plus reduced student and chaperone admission. Available for classes of 30 or more Tuesday through Friday year-round by advance reservation. For details or to book, visit CaliforniMuseum.org/field-trips.

California State Railroad Museum

The California State Railroad Museum is offering a variety of school tours in 2018-2019 that include the following:  Horses to Horsepower Program for 4th and 5th grades; Interpretive Handcar program for grades 4th through 6th; Emigrant Train Program for 4th and 5th grades; School Train Program for grades K through 12th and the Eagle Theatre Student Melodrama Program (where students have an opportunity to participate in a real melodrama while learning about the history of Sacramento and the Eagle Theatre) for grades 4th and 5th. Plus, the Museum is offering special Homeschool Activities on October 19. For group tour reservations, please call 916-323-9274 or email [email protected]. For more information, please visit CaliforniaRailroad.museum.

Folsom History Museum

The Folsom History Museum serves nearly 4,500 school children each year through their tour program that is offered to all children, but focused around curriculum for 3rd to 5th graders. Students begin at the History Museum then visit the nearby Pioneer Village to get a more hands-on experience with gold panning and blacksmith demonstrations.  Folsom History Museum also offers classroom visits with their mobile “tales and trails” program. Looking forward, is building a “museum school” partnership where there are three on-site visits to the school preceding the tours so kids have a better understanding about what they will be learning about when they get to the museum. For more information, please visit FolsomHistoricalSociety.org.

Locke Boarding House Museum

The Locke Boarding House Museum offers docent tours that cater to different age groups of students. They offer group tours for students about 10 times a year plus to other tourist groups as well. The Museum usually divides 25 students per docent and can conduct two to three groups simultaneously. For more information, please visit Locke-Foundation.org.

Museum of Medical History

All year long, the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Museum of Medical History provides fascinating group tours for students (typically for 4th and 5th graders), high school and college students, and even some adult and senior groups, too. To date in 2018, the museum has provided 25 group tours that served about 550 individuals. For more information about arranging a group tour, please visit SSVMS.org/museum.aspx.

Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum

The Old Sacramento Schoolhouse Museum welcomes school groups for old-fashioned lessons that show what school was like before technology – no electronics or running water. Students spend an hour writing, reading, doing arithmetic as well as learning about life in the 1800s.  To make a reservation, please call 916-939-7206 or email [email protected] For general information about the Schoolhouse and special activities, contact [email protected].

Powerhouse Science Center

Each year, the Powerhouse Science Center provides approximately 1,175 school tours for nearly

50,000 students. A few of the tour group offerings for the 2018-2019 school year include the following: a Challenger Simulated Space Mission for grades 5th through 8th that was designed in cooperation with NASA; a Digging Up The Past experience that is an outdoor simulated archaeological dig for grades 4th through 8th; and Hands-On Labs that are fully aligned with Next Generation Science Standards for grades 4th through 8th. For more information, please visit Powerhousesc.org.

Sacramento Children’s Museum

The Sacramento Children’s Museum offers approximately 115 field trips per year that serve more than 3,000 students annually. The Museum offers group tours for preschool through 2nd grades along with their Van Go Mobile Museum where they visit local classrooms, with topics determined by grade. A few of the preschool program include the Five Senses, Food Lab and Sound Explorers. Their programs for kindergarteners through 2nd grade include Building & Engineering, Air & Flight and Color Lab.  The museum also offers periodic Homeschool Days, an all-ages class offered exclusively to Homeschool Students during the Museum’s open hours (next date is September 13).  For more information, please visit SacKids.org.

Sacramento History Museum

Serving 13,500 students a year, the Sacramento History Museum provides year-round school history programs and tours from Kindergarten to college level. Students can immerse themselves in the Gold Rush, the Nisenan culture, and the land and sea routes to California. They can pan for gold, and use scavenger hunts to discover the museum and Old Sacramento. They can even tour below ground where Sacramento used to be, and find out why the city was lifted up. Learn more at SacHistoryMuseum.org.

Sojourner Truth African American Museum

Each year, approximately five local schools (one grade level at a time) attend group tours at the Sojourner Truth African American Museum, serving about 150 kids. Typically, the tour visits are from 3rd through 6th graders.  After the tour, the museum also offers hands-on art activities based on a theme chosen from the museum’s mural. For more information, please visit SojoArtsMuseum.org.

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park

Sutter’s Fort State Historic Park offers a variety of field trip and educational programs that serve more 50,000 students every year. The most iconic of the educational programs is the Environmental Living Program (ELP), which for over 40 years has been providing 4th and 5th grade students with a once-in-a-lifetime experience of spending 24-hours at the Fort learning and participating in pioneer skills (such as carpentry and rope-making) as well as cooking and eating all of their meals on site. Other programs offered are the Environmental Studies Program (a daytime only version of ELP), Sutter’s Fort or Bust (an innovative and low-cost field trip option for elementary school students grades 4th through 6th), and a new joint program with B Street Theatre where students attend a performance at B Street and then participate in an interactive one-hour program at Sutter’s Fort building on the themes of the performance. For more, visit SuttersFort.org/educational-programs/.

For more information about Sacramento area museums “like” them on Facebook at Facebook.com/SacMuseums, follow them on Instagram and Twitter @SacMuseums or visit the user-friendly website at SacMuseums.org.

Local Museums Extend Classroom Learning With School Tours, And More! via @sacramentopress

About the author

Traci Rockefeller Cusack

Traci Rockefeller Cusack has 25+ years of media and public relations experience.  Her work experience includes News10 (ABC) as Promotion Manager from 1989-1998 (where she developed and launched “Coats for Kids’ Sake,” a winter coat drive that lasted 20+ years plus coordinated Oprah Winfrey’s first ever visit to Sacramento) and Fleishman-Hillard as Vice President from 1998-2005 (where she led the wildly successful statewide “California Grown” program and also produced the five-minute video that played on the Jumbotron on Opening Day at Pac Bell Park). In 2007, she launched T-Rock Communications and currently handles a wide range of marketing activities for a number of top-notch organizations.

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