Guided Museum Tours

Students exploring the Captain's quarters of the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan.

Students exploring the Captain’s quarters of the 1841 whaleship Charles W. Morgan.

Guided Museum tours bring the past to life for students and enrich classroom lessons with hands-on activities. Students engage with places, objects, and ideas from the 19th century and gain a new understanding of their own 21st-century lives. Our experienced Museum educators lead tours that are divided into small groups of 10 to 13 students.

Each tour will visit three key exhibits in which the activities and conversation will deeply explore the theme of the tour. Not all groups will go to the same exhibits.

The tour will include a Pair/Share activity (collaborative problem-solving), a Visual Thinking Strategy activity (critical thinking and observation), and a hands-on experience. The programs are constructed to always connect the historical to the modern, make the subject relevant to the student’s life and connect to the broader world.

Guided tour options include:

Social Studies and Language Arts

New! Nautical Norsemen

Mystic Seaport is fortunate to have the Viking ship Draken Harald Hårfagre docked until late Spring 2018. We have collaborated with the crew to produce this joint education program. It consists of a new Planetarium show called “Stars of the Vikings,” a tour of the Draken, a hands-on activity making a navigational tool used by the Norsemen and a visit
to our historic preservation shipyard to discuss how and why Viking ships were built the way they were. Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about the star myths of the Vikings, Norse constellations and explorers in a 30-minute Planetarium show;
  • Compare and contrast historical and contemporary issues related to shipbuilding and exploration, reasons why ships are shaped the way they are and the evolution of navigational and shipbuilding tools;
  • Learn about Vikings “then and now” and gain a deeper understanding of their culture;
  • Compare and contrast historical Viking voyages with the 2016 voyage of the Draken Harald Hårfagre

*Students will have the opportunity to get onboard the Viking ship, the largest of its kind built in modern times. Draken Harald Hårfagre is scheduled to depart in late Spring 2018, so book this program early.

Grades: 3-12
Offered: Year-round; call for specific hours in the winter months
Length: 2 hours
Cost: $21.50 per student (includes admission, Planetarium program and tour); $24 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free

New! Cargoes Around the World

Historically shipping has been essential for transporting cargo. Heavy loads are more economically and efficiently moved on water. Maritime traffic has evolved from large square-rigged vessels and smaller coastal schooners to very large container ships that accommodate international trade. Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn how we transported cargo historically and today, and the types of cargo that was transported in the 1800s compared with today;
  • Learn about world geography and how it determines the way goods and people are transported by water;
  • Learn about the different types of cargo ships in the 1800s and today, and about life onboard a cargo ship, including the diversity of crew and their living and working conditions;
  • Learn about the environmental impact of transporting cargo

Grades: 2-12
Offered: Year-round; call for specific hours in the winter months
Length: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Cost: $17.50 per student (includes admission and tour); $20 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free

New! If Buildings Could Talk: History Through Architecture

The buildings in the recreated seaport town on the campus of Mystic Seaport represent a variety of architectural styles. By examining these buildings and their individual styles and characteristics, we can learn a lot about the people who lived and worked in them. Students in grades 4-8 will learn about the history, architectural style, and people who lived or worked in selected buildings on the Museum grounds. Students in grades 9-12 will experience the work architectural historians do in the field by working in small teams to examine historic structures at Mystic Seaport. Students will use the Museum’s Historic Buildings Survey Form and Architectural Field Guide to explore the history of the buildings, and carefully examine the exteriors to identify architectural styles and significant features.

Grades: 4-12
Offered: Year-round; call for specific hours in the winter months
Length: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Cost: $17.50 per student (includes admission and tour); $20 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free

Explorers and Navigators

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Discover where several Great Explorers traveled to and why;
  • Learn how to navigate a vessel like the explorers did;
  • Decipher a sea chart’s symbols and find latitude and longitude lines, and safe places to anchor a vessel;
  • Learn how to read a compass and a chart, use a lead line to discover the depth and underwater topography, and work with a chip log to factor how fast an object can travel;
  • Visit a vessel, and figure out how the helmsman, the navigator, steering wheel, the rudder, and the compass all work together to get a vessel from one place to another.

Grades: 1-4
Offered: Year-round (except Jan. 2-Feb. 17)
Length: 2 hours (three 30-minute activities and a 30-minute Planetarium program, Great Explorers)
Cost: $21.50 per student (includes admission, tour and Planetarium program); $24 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free

Finding Your Way: Navigation at Sea

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Discover how to read and plot a course on a sea chart, and how to use the tools of the maritime navigator such as parallel rules, a compass rose, and a sextant;
  • Learn the geometry used in calculating where you are on the globe and where you want to go;
  • Learn how to use heavenly bodies in the day and night to give you a sense of direction;
  • Learn what safety methods there were in case your voyage calculations weren’t accurate enough;
  • Participate in a chart reading warm-up and a navigation challenge;
  • Visit a Life Saving Station to understand how important it is to consider weather when navigating;
  • Visit a vessel and explore how the helmsman, navigator, helm, rudder, and compass all work together to get a vessel from one place to another.

Grades: 5-12
Offered: Year-round, call for specific hours in the winter months
Length: 2 hours (three 30-minute activities and a 30-minute Planetarium program, Finding Our Way)
Cost: $21.50 per student (includes admission, tour and Planetarium program); $24 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free

Your Proud Hometown History

Connecticut’s 169 towns have many intriguing histories. The locations, people and legends make each town special
and different from its neighbors. Connecticut has a wide variety of geographical features which, in part, determined how towns grew and prospered. It is often all about “location, location, location.” Within each unique town’s history, there were and are many Connecticut citizens who have invented great things to make our lives safer, easier, and fairer. Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn why their town developed over time in the way that it did;
  • Learn why the geography of the state and the locations of major towns directly correlate to the concentrations of revolutionary ideas;
  • Learn what their hometown’s claim to fame was by discussing famous people and inventions that came from their town;
  • Learn how their town’s inventions and people contributed to the growth and strength of the state and the country;
  • Learn what industries have come and gone in their town as well as our state and why;
  • Discuss what the future might be for their hometown and how they can help;
  • Experience working in a 19th-century trade;
  • Visit a typical home from the 1800s and analyze how it is similar and different from their home today;
  • Experience a Connecticut geography lesson in our 150-year-old school house.

Grades: 2-8
Offered: Year-round, call for specific times during the winter months
Length: 1 hour, 45-minutes
Cost: $17.50 per student (includes admission and tour); $20 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free

Whaling: Sea & Sky Package

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Examine why we whaled, how whale products helped to fuel the Industrial Revolution and the fashion industry, and explore how perceptions of whales have changed over time;
  • Explore the National Historic Landmark vessel the Charles W. Morgan and interpret how 19th-century whalers made their living;
  • Visit our interactive “Voyaging in the Wake of the Whalers” exhibit;
  • Throw a harpoon (weather permitting) or create artwork inspired by the traditional seafaring craft of scrimshaw;
  • See the Morgan’s Guiding Stars Planetarium show that illustrates what the night sky looked like to whalers aboard the Morgan using excerpts from the vessel’s logbooks to display the night sky views at various dates, times, latitudes, and longitudes of her storied history. (A whaling tour without the Planetarium show is also available.)

Grades: 2-12
Offered: Year-round, call for specific times in the winter months
Length: 2 hours, 15-minutes (includes 30-minute Planetarium show)
Cost: $21.50 per student (includes admission, tour, and Planetarium show); $24 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free

Life in a Seaport Town

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Discover why coastal communities developed and flourished;
  • Learn how families lived by visiting the Buckingham-Hall House;
  • Investigate a working craftsman’s shop to examine traditional tools and compare them to their modern counterparts;
  • Visit the General Store to learn about the local economy and discover what types of goods were available in a seaport town;
  • Explore the important skill of ropemaking by actually making rope; or participate in a 19th-century school lesson in a 19th-century school house.

Grades: 2-12
Offered: Year-round, call for specific times during winter months
Length: 1 hour, 45-minutes
Cost: $17.50 per student (includes admission and tour); $20 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free

Seaport Sampler

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Visit one of our historic vessels;
  • Visit a historic home;
  • Explore one of the many shore-side trades.

Grades: Pre-K-12
Offered: Year-round, call for specific times in the winter months
Length: 1 hour
Cost: $17.50 per student (includes admission and tour); $20 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free

Hands-On History

Students will have the opportunity to be immersed in the life of a 19th-century seaport town by participating in hands-on activities on the list below:

  • Shipsmith, Shipcarver’s Shop, Print Shop or Cooperage;
  • Meet a roleplayer or hear a chantey performance;
  • Make a sailor’s craft to take home.

Grades: 4-12
Offered: September-December, March and April
Length: 3 hours (includes travel time between locations and lunch on your own)
Cost: $27.50 per student (includes admission and hands-on activities); $20 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free

Voyage to America: Immigration Tour

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Experience the journey many immigrants took to come to America by visiting one of our historic sailing vessels;
  • Empathize with the immigrants’ reception upon arrival and their experiences integrating into American society;
  • Participate in a naturalization class in our 19th-century schoolhouse;
  • Discuss what it means to be a U.S. citizen;
  • Learn how important communication and the printing industry were to new immigrants finding their way in America.

Grades: 2-12
Offered: Year-round, call for specific times in the winter months
Length: 1 hour, 45-minutes
Cost: $17.50 per student (includes admission and tour); $20 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free

Science

Force and Motion

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Use simple machines on board or on shore to concretely understand mechanical advantage;
  • Visit a historic vessel to identify simple and compound machines in action;
  • Learn what types of technological advances occurred in several shore side industries;
  • Discover how simple machines make work easier by visiting our “Force in Motion at Sea” exhibit.

Grades: 4-8
Offered: Year-round, call for specific times in winter months
Length: 1 hour, 45-minutes
Cost: $17.50 per student (includes admission and tour);$20 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free

Sailor’s Work

Students will have the opportunity to:

  • Visit our fishing schooner, the L.A. Dunton, to learn about a fisherman’s day and row a dory (on land!);
  • Explore a cooperage to learn how wooden casks were made;
  • Participate in a sailor’s story and tie a sailor’s knot.

Grades: Pre-K-1
Offered: Year-round, call for specific times during the winter months
Length: 1 hour
Cost: $17.50 per student (includes admission and tour); $20 per non-teacher chaperone; teachers free