History smArts Outreach

Looking for a way to make learning history fun?

We share your goal of teaching students and will work with your school to bring relevant history programming to your students. More importantly, your students will become active participants in their own learning experiences.

KHS education staff members collaborate with you and come to your classroom, library or community education center to teach an art-infused history lesson. Your students become historians as they analyze images from our artifact collections and participate in a hands-on activity such as quill writing or spinning wool. Through a learner-centered discussion using the Visual Thinking Strategies teaching method, students develop skills in visual literacy, historical literacy, and critical thinking. History smArts provides a cross-curricular activity that meets standards in Social Studies as well as the Arts and Humanities.

Lesson Options

  • Vote for Me: Learn what it means to be an active citizen and discuss attributes that represent a good candidate for office. Draft your own platform to run for Class President, Mayor, or the next Kentucky Governor! Design a campaign poster and button to promote your cause. Last, practice giving your election speech to persuade your peers.
  • Kentucky Inventors: Did you know Kentucky’s history is full of inventors that created things like a traffic signal, gas mask, and a wireless telephone? Learn about these inventors and the challenges they faced to develop something new and improved. Put on your thinking caps as you problem solve to design a patent and a model of your very own invention.
  • Map Literacy: Analyze Frankfort maps from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to see how the capital has changed over time. Think about how geography related to the first settlements and discuss tools for reading maps. Collaborate with classmates to draw a map of a sustainable town, while understanding the roles of public services and the economy.
  • American Indians: Discuss the way of life for native people during the woodland period, 2,000 years ago, and examine portraits of chiefs from the nineteenth century. Learn how early American Indians used a natural resource, clay, to create ceremonial as well as utilitarian vessels. Examine artwork and symbols from the past that will inspire you to create your own clay pinch pot.
  • Pioneer Pastimes: Travel back in time to imagine yourself as a child of the Kentucky frontier. How did people survive in the wilderness? What did they do for fun once they settled? Test your hand at spinning and carding wool (Grade 4+) or creating clay marbles and designing a game to play with friends.
  • Quill and Ink: Critically think about the democratic process and why laws are made. Problem solve to write your own bill proposal to improve your community or a letter to the Mayor about being a good citizen. Try your hand at using a historic writing tool (a quill feather and liquid ink) to draft your idea to improve our future.
  • What’s that artifact?: Understand the role of the Kentucky History Center and Museums by thinking like a historian as you study images and artifacts from our special collections. Handle some of the museum’s ambiguous objects and play a drawing game to see if your peers can guess what they are. After investigating, you will see how the object’s purpose has changed over time.
  • Kentucky Explorers: Learn about the early European explorers who surveyed the land we now call Kentucky. Create your own journal as if you were an explorer during the 1700s traveling to the frontier for the first time. Choose supplies to take with you, think about who you will meet along the way, and write a letter about your experience.


  • This program is only available in the summer, fall, and winter months. During the spring, our museum educators are busy with field trips.
  • History smArts is geared toward Pre-K- to 8th-grade students.
  • Each visit can have up to two different lessons.
  • KHS caps our lessons at 35 students. This helps us make sure each child is engaged and learning.
  • A full lesson is 80 minutes – 30 minutes for the Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS) discussion and 50 minutes for the hands-on activity, but our staff is flexible.
  • A full day costs $300 for schools within a 60-mile radius of Frankfort, Kentucky. Additional travel fees will apply outside that distance depending on location.
  • The fee covers one museum educator and art supplies for classes up to 35 students.
  • Public schools, home schools, libraries and community education centers can schedule History smArts lessons.

For more information or to schedule a History smArts program, email Rebecca Wishnevski or call 502-782-8127.