School Activities

Today the park and museums offer an even richer learning opportunity. Our goal is to provide a fun, memorable and productive experience for all students and teachers. Our field trip planning guide includes in-person and virtual offerings.

Download the Field Trip Planning Guide

Science and Nature at Cantigny Park

Exploring EcosystemsExploring Ecosystems: Biodiversity and Adaptations in Multiple Ecosystems

90 mins (Grades 5-12)
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 be able to describe why and how some plants and animals adapt for survival. The diverse populations and interdependent relationships of wildlife in different ecosystems at Cantigny Park will be examined.

The Circle of LifeThe Circle of Life: Exploring Energy through Cycles

45 mins (Grades 1-12)
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 be able to explain ways animals adapt for survival. Matter, energy and the nitrogen cycle are explored.

 

Tree TalkTree Talk: The Tremendous Life of a Tree

45 mins (Grades 3-12)
Students will explore the life cycle of trees from initiation to decomposition and ways trees benefit so many life forms. They will explore matter and energy in nature as well as interdependent relationships in standing and fallen trees.They will also examine life in, under and around trees and discuss adaptations, habitats and microhabitats in forest ecosystems.

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 5-12)
Capacity: 30
During this study of life in Cantigny’s ponds, students will explore biodiversity as well as biotic and abiotic factors in an aquatic ecosystem. They will use problem-solving skills and teamwork to develop a system for providing clean water. Topics covered will include the water cycle, native plants and soil erosion, water quality, water sheds, water filtration, and human impact and roles in keeping earth’s bodies of water healthy and clean.

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

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


Virtual Programs – 30 mins each

Available starting June 9, 2020
What’s the Buzz (Grades 1-5)
Educator will take students on a virtual ride examining pollinator biodiversity, plant adaptations and traits that attract pollinators. Programs will include an examination of bees, birds, bats, beetles, butterflies and other pollinators that sustain plant communities through pollination. Students will also learn about human impact and our role in reducing the decline of pollinator populations.

The Circle of Life (Grades 1-12)
Students will take a virtual field trip through some of Cantigny’s natural areas as interdependent relationships, the movement of energy through the circle of life, animal adaptations and biodiversity are explored. Grade level content is covered ranging from life cycles to biomimicry.

Tree Talk (Grades 1-8)
Cantigny Park’s educator will bring students to the park virtually as they explore the park’s tree life from initiation to decomposition. They will explore interdependence in a tree ecosystem and the myriad of way trees play a role in the survival of living things. Grade level content is covered to include adaptations, life cycles and microhabitats.

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.
Teacher Takeover – 45 mins
Reserve a time slot for your class to take over the First in War exhibit. Your students can explore WWI, WWII and Vietnam at their own pace. We can provide self-guided materials and ideas or you can create something totally new.

Duty First Field TripSelf-Guided Duty 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 allows 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 program 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
Capacity for all programs is 10 min and 50 max including chaperones; unless otherwise noted. We require 1 adult for every 10 students.

Audience
All programs can be tailored to 4th – 12th grade. Custom programs can be arranged with enough lead time at mtyer@fdmuseum.org.

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
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.

Audience
WWII Home Front and Elementary Artifact Adventure: 4th – 5th grade. Artifact Adventure: Grades 6-12.
Custom programs can be arranged with enough lead time at mtyer@fdmuseum.org.


Virtual Programs – 30 mins each

Explore WWI, WWII and Vietnam through the stories of the First Division soldiers and their allies. These digital field trips use artifacts, images and short video clips to share how teamwork and technology helped our soldiers accomplish their missions. Choose to highlight one conflict in 30 minutes or schedule all three over a period of time for a continuing virtual journey, though military history.

Pre-visit teacher meeting: We want to make this an engaging experience for your students. We request to meet digitally with a teacher before the trip to coordinate preferred platforms for student feedback and interaction.

First in War: WWI
Gear up and explore some of the terrifying technology of the first “modern war.” Students will discover how modern technology in WWI changed the way the war was fought and the experience of the soldiers in the war.

First in War: WWII
Explore some of the US Infantry’s toughest missions: Operation Husky, D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge. Your guide will share lesser-known tales of the teams and people who accomplished these missions.

First in War: Vietnam
We will use video clips and artifacts to delve into the top 5 things to know about the war in Vietnam from the soldiers who fought in it.

First in War: Vietnam Veteran Interview
Explore Vietnam through the eyes of Sergeant Tom Brown, who served with the 1st Infantry Division in Vietnam in 1966. A recipient of the Combat Infantry Badge and the Purple Heart, Tom will take you with him as he recounts his experiences during the Vietnam War, from basic training, to the day he was wounded, to his homecoming. As he speaks, he will show you what he carried with him during his service. Be prepared – Tom loves to answer questions!

History and Civics at the Robert R. McCormick House

A Family of Service – 45 mins

Grades 4-12,
Visit the historic home of Robert R. McCormick, Editor and Publisher of Colonel Robert R. McCormick wasn’t the only member of his family who believed in service. Learn about his family’s connection to the American Civil War or the suffrage movement. Our Educator(s) will present focused lessons about other lesser known members of the family using primary source documents and reproduction clothing and touchable items. We will utilize guided inquiry to help students make connections to the past.

Kitty Medill: A Woman on the Home Front During the American Civil War
Holding down the home front during the Civil War was no easy task. Find out how Katherine “Kitty” Medill managed her family and her volunteer work with the Sanitary Commissions. We will examine family letters, a reproduction outfit, and see what she would have used in her volunteer work. Then we’ll compare her service to other women helping the war effort. Our educator(s) will lead the class in examining objects and learning how they were used.

William Medill: A Major in the 8th Illinois Cavalry During the American Civil War
William Medill joined the 8th Illinois Cavalry to help defend the Union and end slavery. We will examine a reproduction uniform and saddle. Then we’ll peek in his saddle bags to find out what other things a soldier might carry and why they might be helpful. Students will also examine reproductions of family letters to learn about William’s experience and hardships.

Ruth Hanna McCormick: An Illinois Lady Fighting for the Vote
Ruth Hanna came from a political family and married Joe “Medill” McCormick, who would go on to be a U.S. Senator. When Joe passed away, Ruth took up the fight and ran for office herself. We will use Ruth’s story to illustrate the long fight for suffrage for women in the United States, comparing and contrasting her experience with others.

Robert and Amy McCormick: Volunteering for Service in WWI
Colonel Robert R. McCormick is best known as the editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, but his military service was near and dear to his heart. He volunteered for service in WWI and was active at the Battle of Cantigny (in France). His wife Amy also volunteered to serve in France. We will use the service of the McCormick’s a lens to look at WWI.

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

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.
Outreach
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.


Virtual Programs – 30 mins each (Maximum Capacity – 250)

Available starting August 11, 2020
Had On, Took With Them (Grades 4-12)
Colonel Robert R. McCormick wasn’t the only member of his family who believed in service. Learn about his family’s connection to the American Civil War or the suffrage movement. Our Educator(s) will present focused lessons about other lesser known members of the family focused on “had on, took with them.”

Had On, Took With Her: Kitty Medill
This short program shows the clothes, carpet bag and a few objects that a lady in the Civil War Sanitary Commission would have used. It is based on reproduction clothing and objects.

Had On, Took With Her: Ruth Hanna McCormick
This short program shows the clothes and sash a lady in the American Suffrage Movement might have worn. It is based on reproduction clothing and objects, but will include a few primary source photos of suffrage parades.

Had On, Took With Him: William Medill
This short program shows the clothes and gear a Union Cavalry Soldier would have carried. It is based on reproduction clothing and objects, including a saddle.

Had On, Took With Them WWI: Robert and Amy McCormick
This short program shows some of the clothes and objects a soldier and a nurse would have carried with them in WWI. As we are talking about two very different professions, we will highlight a smaller selection of items for each.

Download the Field Trip Planning Guide