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School Programs

On-site School Programs:

Grades PreK-1

Chores, Games and Toys (1 hour)

Students tour the house and garden learning about the children who lived at Oatlands, the chores they did, and the games and toys they enjoyed.  After the museum tour students will use hands-on objects to explore different chores, play games and play with old fashioned toys.  Students will compare their chores, games and toys to those of long ago. (Social Studies K.2; K.7 a; K.8; 1.8; 1.10)

What’s Growing in the Garden? (1 hour)

Wander the garden paths and discover what’s growing.  Oatlands is home to over 4 acres of formal gardens with secret passages through the boxwoods, fountains and all sorts of “wild” life (bugs, frogs, bunnies).  Students will be guided through garden exploration, including the herb garden.  The garden is beautiful any time of year. A garden tussie mussie craft is included in the visit. (Science K.1 a, b, g, j, k; K.2 a; K.4 a-d; K.6 a, b; K.7 a-d; K.9 b, c; K.10 b; 1.4 a, b; 1.5 a, b; 1.7 a-c)


Grades 2-4

Plantation Life at Oatlands (1 ½ hours)

Students tour the mansion, greenhouse and garden as they learn about the Carter family and the enslaved African people who lived and worked here during the 1800s.  This program explores the enslaved daily lives, their work, customs and the journey some of them took along the Underground Railroad.  Oatlands is a member of the National Park Service’s Network to Freedom. (Social Studies 2.3; 2.7; 2.9; VS.1 a, g; VS.4 a, e; VS.7 b, c; VS.8 a)

School’s in Session at Mt. Gap Schoolhouse (1 ½ hours)

Can you hear the school bell ringing?  Students visit the Mountain Gap one room schoolhouse along Route 15 to experience what a typical day was like for students: the 3 R’s, chores and recess.  They will also learn the history of the property and about some of the teachers and students.  This program is limited to 30 students, but can be combined with the Plantation Life program for larger groups. (Social Studies 2.3; 2.10 d, e; VS.1 a, c, d, e)

Time and Technology Travelers (1 ½ hours)

Take a quest throughout the mansion and experience how lives changed over time.  By spying for clues, students learn about the creature comforts added to Oatlands by both the Carter and Eustis families who lived here.  Questions like: where did they go to the bathroom, how did they heat their rooms and how did they light up the house at night are all explored.  Students get to travel to the basement to see some of the inner-workings of Oatlands both past and present. After the tour students create a “technology timeline” to take home. (This tour is basically just for fun; Social Studies 2.3; VS.1 e; Science 2.1a)


Grades 3-5

Civil War on the Home Front (1 ½ hours)

Loudoun County and Oatlands were at the center of much activity during the Civil War years.  Students will tour the mansion to learn about life on the “home front” for Elizabeth Carter and Kate Powell Carter.  Primary source materials are used to hear directly from these women and students will gain an appreciation for their tenacity.  A visit to the Journey through Hallowed Ground Living Legacy trees planted here at Oatlands brings home the importance of the lives lost during the war and how those lives are marked and remembered today. (VS.1 a-g; VS.7 a-c)

Reclaim Your Story:  the Enslaved at Oatlands (1 ½ hours)

Elizabeth Carter was the largest slave owner in Loudoun County at the outbreak of the Civil War!  Robert Carter the III is known as “The Great Emancipator” – why?  What is the story behind an 1809 ad in the paper offering a $10.00 reward for Billy?  Students will embark on a diverse and enlightening journey learning many of the stories about the enslaved here at Oatlands and about a special Carter family member who owned and then freed his slaves.  Tours of the mansion, gardens, greenhouse and grounds literally takes students down the paths and in the footprints of the enslaved who lived here. (VS.1 a-g; VS.4 a)

Around and Around we Go - Lifecycles throughout the Garden (1 ½ hours)

Students will tour the gardens and grounds to engage in an interactive study of plants, insects and animals.  They will learn the parts and needs of plants and about the benefits of plants in nature.  Lifecycles of butterflies, frogs and plants found at Oatlands will also be explored.  The student will investigate and understand how plants and animals, including humans, in an ecosystem interact with one another.  A lifecycle craft is included in the program. (Science 3.1 a, b, d, g, j; 3.8 a, b; 4.1 a, e, h; 4.4 a-d; 4.5 a, b, d, f; 4.9 b; 5.1 d, i)


Grades 4-6

Post Civil War in Leesburg, Loudoun County and at Oatlands (1 ½ hours)

Find out what exactly happened here at Oatlands after the Civil War through primary sources.  What happened to the enslaved once freed?  How did the Carter family cope?  Students will tour the mansion, greenhouse, gardens and grounds to see and hear about the many changes that occurred at Oatlands, in Leesburg, and around Loudoun County in the post Civil War years. (Social Studies VS.7 a, b, c; VS.8 a, b, c)

Architecture and its Elements (1 ½ hours)

By examining both the simple and ornate architectural elements throughout the property students will learn about the many styles used here at Oatlands.  Students will tour the inside and outside of the mansion, greenhouse and carriage house and gain an understanding of how architecture defines how spaces are used. They will also carry a clipboard with an architectural scavenger hunt and paper for sketching.  (This tour is basically just for fun VS.1 a, d, e)

What is Leadership? (1 ½ hours)

Leadership can be hard to define and it means different things to different people. Students tour the mansion learning about members of the Carter and Eustis families and Martin VanBuren Buchanan who was the child of a slave owned by George and Elizabeth Carter.  Each student is given a clip board with a worksheet that has a name listed and a list of leadership qualities. Throughout the tour they will listen for their person and check off any of the leadership qualities they feel their person had.  At the end of the program students will gather together in groups, discuss what leadership means and present their findings to the entire class. (VS.1 a-h; VS.7 c; VS.8 a, b; VS.9 a)


Grades 6-8

Preservation and the Future (2 hours)

Why do we preserve things: food, buildings, objects, etc.?  Saving the past for the future is important for everyone.  In 50 years what will Oatlands look like?  How will we get there?  How will we preserve this special place – its buildings, gardens, grounds – for future generations?  Students will take a look at the concept of preservation.  Working closely with Oatlands Preservation Manager, students will tour the property, examine preservation projects and participate in constructing a preservation project plan.  Students will also participate in an actual current preservation project happening at Oatlands (projects vary depending on what is available at the time of the visit) and leave with a real understanding of the importance of preservation.

Oatlands Junior Interpreters (2 week summer program – 2 hours per day, 3:00-5:00 pm)

Teachers may recommend and students apply to this exclusive summer program.  Requirements to apply are: a paragraph written by the student about why they want to be a Junior Interpreter at Oatlands; a teacher recommendation; and a Junior Interpreter application form (click here for form).  Junior Interpreters spend 2 weeks of their summer studying Oatlands inside and out.  At the end of their summer program they are equipped with the knowledge they need to assist with tours, programs and events throughout the year.  Special Junior Interpreter days will showcase their talents for interpretation and public speaking.  This program is specifically designed to cultivate future history buffs and museum supporters. 



Station Programs (2-4 hours)

Oatlands is pleased to offer special station programs for large groups (whole schools or grade levels).  Students travel from station to station learning about the lives of the Carter family; the enslaved African community that lived and worked at Oatlands; life long ago for children through chores, games and toys; and mapping by creating a map to take home of Oatlands including a compass rose, symbols and legend.

Strawberries (1 ½ hours)

Offered during strawberry season only (May-June)!  Oatlands and Wegmeyer Farms have partnered to offer this unique program.  The strawberry field trip brings history and plant science to life.  Students will pick strawberries and learn how they grow down at the strawberry field and also visit the historic greenhouse and gardens at Oatlands. A hayride transports students between the field and the historic buildings at Oatlands.  Each student takes home a hand-picked (by them) pint of fresh from the field strawberries!

Note:  The “Strawberries” field trip is $12.00 per student


Off-Site Outreach Programs:

Chores, Games and Toys

Students learn about the children who lived long ago, the chores they did, and the games and toys they enjoyed.  Students will use hands-on objects to explore different chores, play games and play with old fashioned toys.  Students will compare their chores, games and toys to those of long ago.  Students make a “buzz saw” toy to keep (button and string).

School’s in Session at a One Room Schoolhouse

Can you hear the school bell ringing?  Students learn about what a typical day was like for students in a one room schoolhouse: the 3 R’s, chores and recess.  Students will compare their school and past and present ways of learning. Hands-on objects, lessons from long ago, and recess games are all explored. Students make a horn book craft to keep.

Reclaim Your Story: the Enslaved

Students will embark on a diverse and enlightening journey learning many of the stories about the enslaved at Oatlands and about a special Carter family member who owned and freed his slaves.  Primary source materials are examined and hands-on objects are used to “pack” a burlap bag to run away on the Underground Railroad.  Underground railroad themed worksheets are completed to keep.

Related Links


Please Note:

Advance reservations are required. After you book your tour an email confirmation will be sent.  To schedule a field trip or an outreach program, please contact the Education Department at: education@oatlands.org or call 703-777-3174.

Click here to download the School Program Information and Logistics page.