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Heritage Activities for Today's Students


2019 - 2020 HATS Catalog

For questions concerning H.A.T.S. Class call 308-385-5316 ext. 204  or email




On a farm in the 1880s, everyone was expected to pitch in and help with chores, and there were no exceptions for young children. In the barn, they will help with chores while learning about the various animals a farm might have had, including goats and sheep, and how these animals were used. They will also visit the chicken coop to see and talk about chickens, with a chance to hold a baby chick. Other farm chores will be explored as well, including pumping water, and the importance of the farm bell.



Students in this class will learn about all the daily fall farm chores that everyone in a farm family on the Nebraska plains in the 19th century would have done. Near the house they will pump and haul water, wash clothes using a scrub board, and hang them on the clothes line. From there they will visit the barn, windmill, chicken coop, granary and garden, stopping to complete their chores at each. Once the work is done outside they will move into the Cleary Farmhouse to shell, grind and sift corn for later use in baking. As they prepare to leave, they visit the carriage house to see if the buggy will be ready for a trip to town later in the week.


Students will examine Pawnee family life, particularly the life of a young Pawnee child on the Nebraska plains in the 1840s. The class takes place in and near the Pawnee Earth lodge. The lodge and a tipi will be visited, and how they were used by Pawnees families will be discussed. Pawnee children’s chores will be taught and each child will have a chance to handle reproduction or artifact tools and utensils and experience several activities, including grinding corn and helping to set up a small tipi. The visit is not complete without a chance to visit Sampson the bison, and learn how bison were hunted and used by the Pawnee.


This two hour class is held both morning or afternoon from the beginning of November until mid December. Class locations include the 1850s Vieregg Cabin, the 1880s Hired Man’s House and the 1900s Cleary Farmhouse. Each location offers a very unique experience. Students learn about winter   family chores on the Nebraska plains in the 19th century. Early lighting methods, bathing, laundry, cook stove use and food preparation are discussed with plenty of hands on opportunities in these areas. Students will also examine winter holiday preparation and celebrations, and will make popcorn to string and colorful paper chains. 19th century holiday gifts will be discussed and shown, and students will have to decide if something home-made or store bought is the better gift.


This class  is geared towards the third grade level and above.  Students will study the characteristics of communities of the 19th century, and examine the diverse communities of Native Americans, early plains settlers and booming railroad towns. Local government and laws within the communities as well as their impact on citizens will be discussed. Financial considerations such as bartering, trading, marketing of goods and taxation will be explored.  Community patterns such as land use, roads, etc. will be studied. Hands-on activities will include mapping of towns and communities, role playing of community members, and decision making as a community.


The class begins near the Static Train Display with a discussion of transportation on the Overland Trails and the meaning of the terms transportation and migration. The class then moves into the Gus Fonner Memorial Rotunda where they discover how the harness and the ox yoke are used to connect the horse or the ox to plows or wagons. The class then moves to Railroad Town where various wagons are viewed, and their unique parts - tongues verses shafts, brakes, leaf springs and wheels are compared. The class then moves from animal power to steam power with a visit to the rail yards in Railroad Town. The jobs of railroad employees, including the Station Master, Engineer, Fireman, Conductor and Brakeman are examined as the Depot and the Caboose are explored. The class ends with students learning how to operate the hand car on the rails.


Students will start by raising the flag just outside the school house and then move into the cloakroom, where daily procedures are discussed and a few period items viewed. Once seated in the desks general information about the life of 1880s Nebraska students and teachers are explained. The remainder of the class is taught in first person, as if the students were attending school in 1888. Students will study reading and arithmetic using reproduction textbooks and chalk slates, penmanship using nib pens and ink, geography viewing an 1888 reproduction map, history using pictures and paintings in the room and participate in a spelling bee. The class ends with the final bell, signalling a resumption of modern life, with just enough time for questions and answers.


Beginning in the Gus Fonner Memorial Rotunda students will take a look at the tribes of the Nebraska plains, with a specific focus on the indigenous Nebraska tribe, the Pawnee. Plains life  before the horse, trappers and traders will be discussed. The class then moves to the nearby Overland Trail marker, where students will learn about the impact of westward expansion on the Pawnee. A visit to Sampson the bison will follow, where they will learn about the use of bison by the plains tribes, and how the eventual destruction of most of the bison on the plains contributed to the decline of the tribes. The class will also visit the tipi and Earth Lodge to learn about family structure, social customs, and daily life and have the opportunity to handle both reproduction and artifact tools,  utensils and other material culture items.


This class is for students in fifth grade and older. Students will learn how science and technology of the late 19th century affected the daily lives of those who worked in communities on the plains.  The focus of this class will be on the science and technology related to community business and trades, with an emphasis on communication, transportation and power. Students will experience how science and technology helped communities businesses though several hands on opportunities.


Class begins in the Stuhr Building at the wagon display that shows a family stopped for a “nooning” on the trail. The various trails through Nebraska and preparations for an overland journey in the mid-19th century will be discussed. From here the class will travel to the Log Road Ranche, where students will learn about the important role these stopover points along the trail played and what this meant for weary travelers heading both directions. Early settlement lifestyles will be discussed, and a few of the artifacts of early plains life survival demonstrated


Discovery Days suitable for Fourth Grade level and above

In the past few years we have received requests to be able to accommodate larger numbers of students, to have better weather, to be able to provide more interactive involvement and  less lecture time in this class while still telling the stories you’ve come to enjoy. We are unable to do much about the weather, but we would like to present this opportunity to address the rest of the requests. The class will be relocated to Railroad Town, be set ups in stations, and be able to accommodate multiple classes at one time. The stations will include: Enlistment, 1861 Medical Exam, Tents and Shelters, Weapons of War, News of 1861, Military Drill Instruction, Women in the War & on the Home Front,  Rations, Uniforms, Stories and Medicine during the War. Other stations may be added.  Students will be able to spend more open ended time at each station.

This class takes place at the Rural School over most of the winter. Expanding considerably on the two hour Rural School  class, students will be able get a more in depth experience with each subject taught during a typical 1888 school day. Following an overview of the class and expectations, the remainder of the class is taught in first  person, as if the students were attending school in 1888. Areas of study include reading, arithmetic, penmanship, history and spelling. The class will use reproduction text books, slates, chalk, dip pens & ink, an 1888 reproduction map, photographs and more. Students are encouraged to bring a period appropriate lunch for noon. The day includes two recess periods where students will experience popular period games. Class ends with the final bell, signalling a resumption of modern life, with just enough  time for questions and answers.

This class is available from mid April until mid May. Class begins with a presentation on the Overland Trails and the reasons behind the Great Migration. Students will learn what supplies were best to take with them, and what should be left behind. Supplies are selected and barrels and boxes are loaded into the hand carts. Students will pull the hand carts along the trail, stopping to purchase or trade for supplies at the Taylor Store, and many other points along the way to inspect trail debris or read from the journals. They will reach a place where a wagon has stopped, proving it is a good location for a “noonin.” Students will unload supplies and begin preparing a simple meal. While eating and resting, students will discuss the trail life of these moving communities, the hardships they endured and their impact on the growth of the nation. Once the meal is over it is time to pack up and resume the walk on the trail, eventually returning to the start location to conclude journal readings and discuss their day.  (Warm, layered clothing, long pants and comfortable shoes are required)

Class locations include the 1850s Vieregg Cabin, the 1880s Hired Man’s House and the 1900s Cleary Farmhouse. Each location offers a very unique  experience. Class begins with a quick tour of the “out-houses” and their various uses.  Once inside work begins on preparation of the noon meal, with each student helping to prepare a stew, corn gems, churn butter, and  corn cob jelly, using a wood cook stove and other tools of the period. After dinner, there are many chores to do and students will focus on the daily chores that were necessary for survival on the plains, and each person’s responsibilities to the family and established community, with an opportunity to compare this with life today.

Notes on the H.A.T.S. Two Hour Classes

We ask that you use our pre-scheduled class times of 9:00-11:00 or 12:30-2:30. However, we know some schools have long distances to travel and may not be able to make that work. If these times do not work for you, please let us know right away when scheduling so we can best meet your needs. 

Students are welcome to bring their lunches to eat either before or after classes. If you plan to do this, please let us know when registering so we make sure someone is available to meet you for check-in. 

We have very limited interior areas for lunch, and their use must be scheduled ahead of your class day. 

When the weather is more favorable, there are a number of outdoor locations for lunch.  

Self-guided museum tours may be added before or after a H.A.T.S. class for an additional $2/person.

Notes on the H.A.T.S. Discovery Days
These structured classes provide in-depth look at topics that are taught in the (H.A.T.S.) program and can be selected by the teacher to meet the special needs of the class and its curriculum. All of these classes are first-person, living history experiences and are crafted for 4th grade students and up. 

Custom Classes or Programs
Museum Educators are willing to work with you to develop a unique, one-of-a-kind experience for your students. Our staff can help you plan, prepare and implement your program either in the class room or at Stuhr Museum.  Call 308-385-5316 ext. 204  or email to request more information.