Program Information:

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Welcome to Journey Back In Time! (Return to Top of Page)

The story of our company begins with a man named Henry Hess. Following the Oregon Trail, Henry and his family left the Midwest in the mid-1800s in search of their "manifest destiny." Life was hard, but through the legendary resourcefulness that the early pioneers were known for, they were able to provide for everything they needed. Settling down in the beautiful Columbia Gorge (where the Hess family remains to this day), Henry passed down to his descendants a love for the simple life.

In 1989, Henry's great, great grandson, Terry Hess created "Pioneer Living." With a background in teaching and living history work, he was able to imagine a program where the museum was brought to the school and in which students were able to touch and manipulate everything in the exhibit! "Pioneer Living" was received with rave reviews everywhere it went and today, there are 8 "Pioneer Living" programs on tour at a different school each day, covering over 30 different states!

To date, this program has visited over 10,000 schools across the country, allowing students of all ages to experience life from a pioneer perspective. Our programs are based on the principle that all children learn best by doing. We pride ourselves on the unique hands-on approach that makes our programs unforgettable and are committed to providing exciting learning opportunities not to be found in a textbook or traditional field trip.

"Tell me and I will forget;
Show me, and I may remember;
Involve me, and I will understand."

The "Pioneer Living" Program (Return to Top of Page)

Journey Back In Time is a traveling hands-on museum that comes to your school so that students can experience "Pioneer Living." Six different Learning Centers with their historical displays and hands-on stations provide for this field trip at your school, turning your multi-purpose room into a pioneer settlement. All of the students have the chance to do all of the activities.

Gold Rush Learning Center:

Learning is fun as kids relive the excitement of the Gold Rush. Kids can go panning for gold (pyrite) and weigh their find on a set of authentic miner's scales. That each child can keep three pieces of their claim is an added bonus! Artifacts on the display tell the story of a great westward movement.

Children's Learning Center:

Do you remember sock monkeys and button spinners? We do! This station features over 40 handmade wooden folk toys from craftspeople all across America. Children of all ages will find something to love as they play with pecking chickens, a whimmy-diddle, iron cabin fever puzzles, acrobats, yo-yos, ball and cup toys and lots more! We also have a collection of children's schoolbooks from the 1800s that students can take out and look at. Don't forget to read the rules from 1860! "Do not speak unless spoken to by the teacher. Talking in class = 1 whack with a rod."

Ma's and Pa's Learning Center:

After doing the chores at this station, children will think being a pioneer was loads of fun…but also loads of work! Here students can try suddsing up with a lather brush and shaving the way Pa did, pumping water from an old rain barrel, scrubbing clothes on a scrubboard, and wringing them out through a 150-year old washing machine.

Clothing Learning Center:

With general stores few and far between and pennies scarce, the pioneers didn't have many clothes. One source of clothing was sheep's' wool. Valued for its warmth and durability, it was used for everything from wool mittens to wool underwear! At this center, children will learn how wool was carded to brush the fiber straight, then spun or twisted into a piece of yarn. Each child will take their yarn home with them as a souvenir friendship bracelet.

Kitchen Learning Center:

From sifters to coffee grinders, cast iron to enamelware, many of the items in an 1800s kitchen resemble those things used at home today. But chances are children today have never experienced grinding wheat into flour and rolling out the bread dough. This station, with its cozy smells and tactile sensations is always a favorite.

Handcrafts Learning Center:

Rag rugs, quilts, corncob dolls, hand-dipped candles, tatting, and broomcorn…all common items in a pioneer home. In this center we pay tribute to the craftspeople of the 1800s who worked tirelessly to furnish the comforts of a homestead. Children will become craftspeople themselves as they make a necklace from earth-toned "trade beads" (made from pasta) to take home with them.

Program Format (Return to Top of Page)

This program is designed for grades PreK-8. We do 2-4 classes per assembly with each assembly being 30-60 minutes in length. Each assembly starts with an age-appropriate presentation, followed by time for the students to participate in the centers. We do up to 60 students per assembly not to exceed 80. This avoids students having to stand in line for an activity.  We need 5 minutes in between assemblies..

  • A part day is up to 3 hours and a full day is a full school day.

School Responsibilities: (Return to Top of Page)

  1. Provide one adult to meet us when we arrive (2 hours before the first scheduled group) and provide assistance for 15 minutes, if needed. If your school has stairs leading into the performance area, additional help may be required as everything in our program is on wheels.
  2. Provide 2 rolls of paper towels.
  3. Provide 4 helpers throughout the day. These parents act as museum chaperones and will be assisting the students at the stations.
  4. Provide a 40 by 60 foot space.
  5. Set up a schedule for the day that follows our Scheduling Guidelines.

Click here for 4 minute promo video on YouTube

© 2015 Pioneer Living