Educational Programs – Under the Cupola!
A visit to the Elgin Area Historical Museum can change your view of life – whether making a watch in the Elgin factory, building a cobblestone house, or recreating the Road Race route, the Museum experience offers a new perspective!
The educational programs are wide and varied both in content and style, and each offers a hands-on component. They are tailored to be developmentally-appropriate for groups of all ages and learning styles and designed with state learning standards in mind.
Time travel thru our Museum and discover Elgin's unique history! The experience, suitable for all age groups, follows the history of Elgin through exhibits focused on five areas: Early Elgin, Elgin's Architectural Heritage, the Watch Factory, the Hiawatha Pageant, and Elgin Road Races. The experience becomes interactive when teams work together on a fun and challenging Scavenger Hunt.
An extension of the Elgin History Tour, the Museum visit is enhanced with hands-on activities related to each of the five focus areas. Students are presented relevant concepts and given the opportunity to:
- Early Elgin - operate model of a mill race
Architecture - construct arch with keystone
Watch Factory - handle watch company artifacts
Road Race - draw map of road race route
Hiawatha - contrast/compare - with an eco twist
Performed in Elgin for 50 years, the Hiawatha Pageant helped to preserve Native American dances and attracted thousands of visitors to Elgin. Children listen to an excerpt of Longfellow's poem, play a Native American game, make ankle bracelets, and join in the Eagle dance. Clothing and props authentic to the pageant are on display and are a visual treat.
Through the eyes of Harriet Gifford, children experience travel to Elgin in 1835 and setting up a new home in the wilderness. Concepts include housing, transportation, household tools and prairie life in the 19th century. Finger weaving, cobblestone houses, and buttermaking, are activities that accompany the Westward Expansion concepts.
Travel back in time for a first day of work at the Elgin National Watch Factory. Children learn about the Company's worldwide status and have an orientation with the Supervisor; then head to the factory departments where students assemble prototype pocket watches! Work conditions, assembly line, and mass production are some key concepts.
Take a walk through Elgin's oldest neighborhood and learn about the architectural styles represented in this old river town. Recognizing shape and form helps students become familiar with styles taken from other cultures like Egypt, Greece, and France. Learning the history of the people that lived in these houses helps connect students to their community. Back at the Museum, students explore use of building materials, draw various roofline types, and construct significant architectural features.
Bake an apple tart with Great Grandma in her old-fashioned kitchen and learn about the tools she used. Discover the Elgin dairy industry and its connection to the Gail Borden Public Library. At the end of the program, participants spread their homemade butter on crackers and enjoy the warm apple tarts!
If you can't bring your middle school students to the Museum, bring the museum to your classes! The old trunks contain reproduction items relating to the Westward Movement or Industrial Revolution and serve to enhance study about those periods in history. Contact the Museum to reserve these unique resources for your classroom!
This program runs from June through August and encourages families to visit over 50 museums and nature centers in Kane and DuPage Counties.
Families visit the Museum and pick up a passport; children are free with a paying adult. At each site, children are invited to complete an activity and have their Passport stamped. If 7 or more sites are visited, children can return to the Museum and select a prize from the Museum Store.
Other tailor-made or school site programs can be designed at the special request of teachers! Recent examples of special request programs:
- Elgin Pioneers
Primary and Secondary Resources with a Watch Factory focus
Elgin in the Progressive Era
Intersession Programs for Year Round Schools
Contact: Lucy Elliott, Museum Educator
Phone: 847.742.4248 Message can be left on voicemail.
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Other times can be arranged. The Museum is closed to the general public in January and February for exhibit enhancements, but is open for scheduled programs and research appointments.
Prices of programs range from 3 to 7 dollars per student, depending on length (1-2 hours) and accompanying activities.
Please have following information when you contact the museum:
- Program selection
- Date and time options
- Age or grade level
- Number of people in your group
- Number of chaperones
- Programs are tailored to particular groups and designed to complement state learning standards.
- Museum staff will adjust to special learning units or needed requirements for fulfilling badge projects.
- Programs must be reserved at least two weeks in advance.
- Payment is due the day of the program unless prior arrangements are made.
- The Museum is a barrier-free environment inviting everyone to celebrate history!