School Activities

Today the park and museums offer an even richer learning opportunity. Our goal is to provide a fun, memorable and productive day for all students and teachers.

Download the Field Trip Planning Guide

Science and Nature at Cantigny Park

Biodiversity and Energy in Different Ecosystems Field TripExploring Ecosystems

90 mins (Grades 3-12)
How does energy move through ecosystems? Students will assess and compare life in two or more habitats. Abiotic and biotic properties of each will be explored as well as energy movement through food chains and/or food webs. Students will come to understand ways plants and animals adapt for survival. The diverse populations and interactions of insects, birds, and wildlife present in different habitats at Cantigny Park will be examined.

Biodiversity and Adaptations Field TripThe Circle of Life: Exploring Energy Through Cycles

45 mins (Grades 1-8)
Students will explore biodiversity and make connections with life cycles of plants, trees, insects and animals and will model and demonstrate the movement of energy through food chains in an ecosystem. Students will examine animal adaptations for survival.


Cantigny Ponds and Water's ImpactTree Talk: The Tremendous Life of a Tree

45 mins (Grades 3-12)
Students will explore growth and the life cycle of trees from initiation to decomposition and examine the cycling of matter and flow of energy in a forest ecosystem. They will investigate trees as habitats and microhabitats and ways insects and animals adapt for survival in standing and fallen trees. Students will also examine some of the differences and adaptations of different trees.

What’s the Buzz? Pollinators and Plant Adaptations

45 mins (Grades 3-12)
Learn how bees, birds, bats, beetles, butterflies and other pollinators sustain plant communities through pollination. Students will examine biodiversity, plant adaptations and traits that attract different pollinators. Students will also learn about the importance of reducing the decline of pollinator populations.

Ponder This: Cantigny Ponds and Human Impact

45 mins (Grades 4-12)
Students will explore biodiversity and biotic and abiotic factors in an aquatic ecosystem. They will examine and test water quality and use problem-solving skills and teamwork to design and test systems for cleaning water. Topics covered will include water quality, native plants, soil erosion, the water cycle, and watersheds with an emphasis on the need for healthy and clean water.

The Wonders of Nature (Early Childhood)

45 mins (Ages 3-6, maximum 20 students)
Engage your students’ natural capacity for wonder at Cantigny Park with a customized nature-based field trip program. Developmentally appropriate and engaging hands-on activities and crafts are offered in addition to creative play and movement in the park’s natural spaces. Nature programs can be customized to fit your groups’ needs and interests.

Capacity for all Science programs is 10 minimum and 50 maximum students, unless otherwise noted.

All programs can be tailored to 1st – 12th grade. Custom programs can be arranged with enough lead time.

Military History at the First Division Museum

First in War Field TripFirst in War Exhibit

45 mins
Walk in the boot steps of America’s 1st Infantry Division as they fought in WWI, WWII and Vietnam. This docent-led tour will share stories about how teamwork and technology helped our soldiers accomplish their missions.

Duty First Field TripDuty First Exhibit

45 mins
Use the exhibit as a source for inquiry research. In this self-guided experience, students will explore missions related to battle, counterinsurgency, peacekeeping, military assistance, and deterrence. Spark a conversation: What can the modern military do? What should it do?

Soldier story pods with male and female soldiers from a variety of ethnic backgrounds talk about the missions they went on and how they felt about their service.

The tank battle recreation and counterinsurgency house raid
virtual reality
allow students to see a mission from the soldier’s perspective.

The civic engagement interactive allows students to delve deeply into the decision-making process about when and where to deploy our military.

Artifacts tell a story about the tools used and the exhibit text provides context. Additional research and a debrief can be done in the classroom.

Tank Tech Field TripTank Tech

45 mins
From WWI to present day, the technology of tanks is constantly evolving. This unique field trip allows students to have fun while learning about the tanks. This experience includes a short tour of the Tank Park paired with games and activities to facilitate student learning about these incredible titans of technology. We will run this outdoor program as long as there is no lightning. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear!

Capacity for all programs is 10 min and 50 max including chaperones; unless otherwise noted. We require 1 adult for every 10 students.

All programs can be tailored to 4th – 12th grade. Custom programs can be arranged with enough lead time at

First Division Museum PavilionFirst Division Museum Pavilion

This three-season pavilion behind the First Division Museum can run programs from May 1–October 31. ONE program in the pavilion at a time.

WWII Home Front USA

45 mins
Democracy relies on people’s responsible participation. Your students will step into the shoes of WWII-era school children to explore what kids their age were doing to contribute to the war effort; including recycling drives, rationing, and food gardening. Students will work with propaganda posters to delve into different ways that citizens contributed on the home front. Compare the efforts of individuals in the past with current opportunities for civic involvement.

Artifact Adventure

45 mins
The artifact field trip encourages students to think critically. Students will rotate through artifact stations in small groups, working together to compare how uniforms and gear have changed over time and use uniforms and photographs as clues to answer historical questions.

Elementary Artifact Adventure

45 mins
This version of the Artifact Adventure focuses on WWII and is designed just for upper elementary historians. Students will analyze photographs and letters to answer historical questions. They will learn about new inventions, uniforms, and make decoders to decipher codes.

Capacity for Artifact Adventure and Elementary Artifact Adventure is 10 minimum and 50 maximum including
chaperones. Capacity for WWII Home Front USA is 10 min and 50 max. We require one adult for every 10 students.

WWII Home Front and Elementary Artifact Adventure: 4th – 5th grade. Artifact Adventure: Middle & High School.
Custom programs can be arranged with enough lead time at

History and Civics at the Robert R. McCormick House

Touring the Mansion Field TripTouring the Mansion

45 mins
Visit the historic home of Robert R. McCormick, Editor and Publisher of the Chicago Tribune newspaper from 1911-1955. Tours will touch on primary and secondary sources and relay the story of Robert R. McCormick’s life and work (1880-1955).

Hands on the Mansion Field TripHands on the Mansion

60 mins
Boost critical thinking skills in an hour-long program using a variety of primary and secondary sources related to Robert McCormick, the Editor and Publisher of the Chicago Tribune (1911-1955). Students will rotate through three staff-facilitated stations. Students will use close reading skills to examine political cartoons from a rival paper. Students will investigate WWI with hands-on objects and propaganda posters. They will also look at the soldier’s experience and the role of women during the Great War.

Custom Programs McCormick HouseCustom Programs

Problem Based Learning
The Robert R. McCormick House staff has helped several local schools with Problem Based Learning (PBL) units. Students investigate a local problem, work in small groups to propose solutions, then meet with experts to see which solutions should be formally proposed. PBL units can touch on school issues, community issues, or even problems that an organization in the community is having.
The staff at the historic house museum is happy to help with outreach programs related to history fairs and career fairs, and we’ve even done a few small scale STEM programs because of Robert McCormick’s interest in inventing and engineering.

Download the Field Trip Planning Guide