School Activities

Please note that as a precautionary measure in response to the current health crisis, in-person Military and History programs will not be offered in the Fall of 2020. All virtual field trip offerings will continue to be available.

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

Capacity

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

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.

  • Content varies per grade level
  • Program incorporates STEM principles and supports the three dimensions of Next Generation Science Standards and involve analyzing and interpreting data, problem-solving and exploring science phenomena
  • Next Generation Science Standards emphasized align through Common Core State Standards for Math and English Language Arts

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.

  • Content varies per grade level
  • Program incorporates STEM principles and supports the three dimensions of Next Generation Science Standards and incorporates exploration, use of models, investigation and/or interpretation of data about scientific principles in the natural world
  • Next Generation Science Standards emphasized align with Common Core State Standards for Math and English Language Arts

Tree TalkTree Talk: The Tremendous Life of a Tree

45 mins (Grades 1-8)
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.

  • Content varies per grade level
  • Program incorporates STEM principles and supports the three dimensions of Next Generation Science Standards through exploration, use of models, investigation and/or interpretation of data about scientific principles in the natural world
  • Next Generation Science Standards emphasized align with Common Core State Standards for Math and English Language Arts

What’s the Buzz? Pollinators and Plant Adaptations

45 mins (Grades 1-8)
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.

  • Content varies per grade level
  • Program incorporates STEM principles and supports the three dimensions of Next Generation Science Standards and incorporates exploration, use of models, investigation and/or interpretation of data about scientific principles in the natural world
  • Next Generation Science Standards emphasized align with Common Core State Standards for Math and English Language Arts

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.

  • Content varies per grade level
  • Program incorporates STEM principles and supports the three dimensions of Next Generation Science Standards and incorporates exploration, use of models, investigation and/or interpretation of data about scientific principles in the natural world
  • Next Generation Science Standards emphasized align with Common Core State Standards for Math and English Language Arts

Virtual Programs – 30 mins each

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.

  • Content varies per grade level
  • Program incorporates STEM principles and supports the three dimensions of Next Generation Science Standards and incorporates exploration, use of models, investigation and/or interpretation of data about scientific principles in the natural world
  • Next Generation Science Standards emphasized align with Common Core State Standards for Math and English
    Language Arts

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.

  • Content varies per grade level
  • Program incorporates STEM principles and supports the three dimensions of Next Generation Science Standards and incorporates exploration, use of models, investigation and/or interpretation of data about scientific principles in the natural world
  • Next Generation Science Standards emphasized align with Common Core State Standards for Math and English Language Arts

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.

  • Content varies per grade level
  • Program incorporates STEM principles and supports the three dimensions of Next Generation Science Standards and incorporates exploration, use of models, investigation and/or interpretation of data about scientific principles in the natural world
  • Next Generation Science Standards emphasized align with Common Core State Standards for Math and English Language Arts
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.

  • Illinois Social Science Standards related to history appropriate to each grade level. Disciplinary concepts: change, continuity and context; perspectives; and causation and argumentation

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.

  • This field trip offers an opportunity to work on Illinois Social Science Standards related to inquiry skills
  • Illinois Social Science Standards related to history; specifically, change, continuity and context; perspectives; and causation and argumentation

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!

  • Illinois Social Science Standards related to history; specifically change, continuity and context; and causation and argumentation

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


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 (Grades 4-5)
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.

  • Illinois Social Studies Standards related to history and civics
  • Common Core Standards related to reading informational text

Artifact Adventure

45 mins (Grades 6-12)
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.

  • Illinois Social Science Standards related to history; specifically, change, continuity and context
  • Common Core Standards related to literacy in history and social studies

Elementary Artifact Adventure (Grades 4-5)

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.

  • Common Core Standards related to reading informational text

Capacity
Capacity for all pavilion programs is 10 minimum and 50 maximum including chaperones. We require one adult for every 10 students.


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 – 30 mins
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 – 30 mins
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 – 30 mins
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.

  • Virtual field trips address C3 Standards related to history; specifically, change, continuity and context; and perspectives.

First in War: Vietnam Veteran Interview – 30 mins
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

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.”

  • Illinois Social Science Standards related to primary and secondary sources in history and civics
  • English Language Arts Standards related to close reading skills

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.


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.

Early Childhood Education

The Wonders of Nature – 45 min

Audience: 3-6 years-old (Preschool/Kindergarten)
Capacity: 20 max
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 oered in addition to creative play and movement in the park’s natural spaces. Nature programs can be customized to fit your group’s needs and interests.
  • Early Childhood nature based programs at Cantigny Park align with the use of Creative Curriculum and support many literacy, mathematics, communication/language and scientific standards.

Virtual Field Trips – 30 mins

The Wonders of Nature is also available as a Virtual Field Trip!

Engage your students natural capacity for wonder with a customized nature-based field trip program.

Download the Field Trip Planning Guide