Homeschooling can often feel like a “do it all yourself” venture, which can be overwhelming. However, there are incredible resources right here within Roanoke to “take the load off” homeschooling parents, and provide exciting supplemental educational options for children. One excellent choice is the History Museum of Western Virginia’s education programs.
The History Museum, which is located on the third floor of the Center in the Square building in downtown Roanoke, is open for unguided tours from 10 a.m.-4 Tuesday-Friday, Saturday 10-5, and Sunday 1-5. In addition to these self-guided tours, from September through June, the museum offers a variety of educational programs which meet Virginia’s Standards of Learning. The programs, entitled Step Into the Past, fall into two categories: In-museum programs, which are provided on site at the museum in the Center in the Square, and Outreach programs, in which the museum comes to schools and presents a program around an hour long.
In-museum programs are provided by reservation, which can be scheduled Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. upon request. They are available to groups of fewer than 25 students who make reservations. Each in-museum program includes a tour of the museum itself, and takes about two hours for the program and tour. Each program is $5 per child. In-museum topics include:
- Archaeological Dig – An excavation at the museum’s simulated dig site to uncover artifacts from the past (for students 4th grade and up)
- Back Country Living – A program (for all elementary aged children) that helps students experience life in the early settlement of Virginia, in the museum’s log cabin classroom, through trying on clothes, playing games and preparing food
- Sharecropper’s Child – A look into life in the early 1900s in Southwest Virginia, as well as the effects of the Civil War and Reconsturction on southern states (for 4th grade and up)
- Sticks and Stones and Animal Bones – A Native American program (for Pre-K through 2nd grade) where students try on clothing, make a turtle shell rattle, and engage in other activities to learn about Eastern Woodland Native Americans
- We All Came to America – (for 6th grade and up) Includes role playing, “identity cards” and a family suitcase with hints from the past and future to help students understand the life of typical families that immigrated to Virginia during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The museum’s Outreach programs last around 45 minutes to an hour, in which the museum comes to a school. The outreach programs include:
- What is Archaeology?
- Betsy Ross’ Ps and Qs
- Mali: Land of Mud Mosques and Moslem Traditions
- Native American Games
- Black Hands and White Sails
- Civil War Soldier
- Hidden in Plain Sight: Quilts as Signs Along the Underground Railroad
- Jamestown’s First Years: Land of Plenty, Time of Starving
- Pioneer Art
- X Marks the Spot: The First Arrivals in Virginia and Later Settlers in Roanoke.
For more information about the details of these programs, click here, and then click on the Step Into the Past brochure. The History Museum can provide these outreach programs at the museum itself for homeschooling groups that contact the museum and set up for them to do so, at a cost of $5 per child.
Both the In-museum programs and Outreach programs can be offered as a multi-day unit for homeschoolers, which delves more deeply into each topic. Multi-day units include 5 days of programs which last an hour and a half in duration. The cost for these programs is $25 per child, and the museum can provide the programs either each day in one week, or once a week over the course of five weeks. The minimum class size for multi-day units is ten students, although smaller groups can contact the museum to be combined with other groups in order to meet the minimum class size.
For more information, or to make reservations for a program, call museum educator Linda VanLuik at 224-1245, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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