Field Trips & Thematic Programs

Please note that ATHM has permanently closed our doors and are offering no future school programs.

Colonial Days photo with Paula

The Museum previously offered several field trip and thematic grade appropriate program packages for school groups, including How to Wear a Sheep, Unraveling the Mysteries of Silk, Travel the Silk Road, Colonial Days, and Fleece to Fabric.


How to Wear a Sheep

Ages: PreK – Grade 2
Length: 2.5 hours (Including an age appropriate scavenger hunt at the Museum)

This program guides young children through an exploration of how natural fiber is used to create fabric. They will discover how a sheep’s wool can be spun into yarn, woven, and sewn into a garment.

Following the story of Charlie Needs a Cloak by Tomie DePaola, children will be guided through the process of shearing sheep, cleaning and carding wool, spinning the fibers into thread, dying, weaving and clothing construction.  This program includes plenty of sensory experiences from smelling raw wool to touching samples of wool at the various stages of processing.  Sewing will be introduced, using plastic needles and yarn.  You will leave with a new appreciation for your winter coat!

Learning standards will be met as students:

  • Identify sequences in the processing of wool and put events in temporal order.
  • Participate in activities as shown in the book’s illustrations.
  • Observe how tools are used in the process of clothing construction.
  • Observe  properties of various objects including size, shape, color and texture.

Downloadable PDF materials for How to Wear a Sheep:

How to Wear a Sheep can also come to your classroom!

Outreach cost: $125 for a class of up to 30 children plus the cost of travel.
Additional classes: $100 each

Unraveling the Mysteries of Silk

Ages: Grades K – 2
Length: 2.5 hours (includes silk scavenger hunt through the Museum).

Silk, spider webs, and rayon are produced in a similar way. Learn about the science, technology, and culture of silk, and other extruded fibers. Students will identify the anatomy of a spider and hear and reenact the legend of the discovery of silk in ancient China, as well as experiment with unraveling a silk cocoon.

Learning standards will be met as students:

  • Identify and describe the characteristics of natural materials and human-made materials.
  • Describe the major stages that characterize the life cycle of the spider and silkworm as they go through metamorphosis.
  • Observe plants and animals as living things that grow
  • Identify the safe and proper use of tools and materials.

Downloadable PDF materials for Unraveling the Mysteries of Silk:

Travel the Silk Road

Ages: Grades 4 – 6
Length: 2.5 hours

Travel the Silk Road with us!  Students will be introduced to the history of The Silk Road, the trade route that connected China with the cities and empires of Central Asia and the Mediterranean for thousands of years.  Along with goods and services, travelers exchanged technologies, religions, music and literature, and ways of thinking.

Using our life-sized game board, students are encouraged to learn about the purpose and challenges of this historic route while honing their trading and bartering skills. Using a world map, students will visit bazaars and historic cities to identify and collect items that were traded along the Silk Road

Learning standards will be met as students:

  • Make appropriate choices relating to limited and unlimited resources and how scarcity compels people and communities to make choices about goods and services, giving up some things to get other things.
  • Interact as buyers and sellers and how they influence the value of goods and services in markets.
  • Use the maps of Ancient China with an emphasis on the topography and climate to move their caravans along the Silk Road.

Downloadable PDF materials for Traveling the Silk Road:

Colonial Days

Ages: Grades 3+
Length: 2.5 hours

Experience daily life in the Colonial era (c. 1760) through lively interactive experiences and activities.  Students will enter the world of Colonial America using maps, artifacts, demonstrations and hands on activities. This multi-station program covers spinning and weaving, flax processing, toys and games, and a tour of the Museum’s Colonial exhibits.

Learning standards will be met as students:

  • Identify different ways of dating historical narratives.
  • Point out the first 13 colonies on a map of North America and describe how regional differences in climate, types of farming, populations, and sources of labor shaped their economies and societies through the 18th century.
  • Explain the importance of maritime commerce in the development of the economy of colonial Massachusetts.
  • Review the British imperial policy and colonial response to the various taxes and demands being imposed upon them.
  • Identify and explain the differences between simple and complex machines using the spinning wheels and looms.

Downloadable PDF materials for Colonial Days:

Fleece to Fabric

Ages: Grades 3 and Up
Length: 2.5 hours

Explore the life of a New England farm family during the growth of the Republic (early 1800s). Process wool from the family sheep and create a poster to document the steps.  Card, spin, and weave wool fiber into cloth.  Learn about the science of dyeing yarn using various plants, flowers, nuts, and berries found locally.  Within the context of the Museum’s colonial store and the carding mill participate in community trading of goods and services.

Learning standards will be met as students:

  • Follow a historical narrative explaining time period and dates.
  • Observe visual sources that accompany the historical narrative, including illustrations, describing various details of the time period.
  • Observe and describe local and regional historic artifacts as well as the differences between simple and complex machines.
  • Explain how artifacts of everyday life in the past tell us how ordinary people lived and how everyday life has changed.
  • Learn about specialization in jobs and businesses
  • Define barter, participate in barter and trade role playing and how money makes it easier for people to get things
  • Define supply and demand and describe how changes in supply and demand affect the value of specific products.

Downloadable PDF materials for Fleece to Fabric:

For more information on field trips or thematic programs, contact Kathy Hirbour, Education Coordinator, at 978-441-0400 x250 or email

To request a reservation, click here.