School Programs

Teaching in the school houseThe staff, volunteers, and concessionaires at Columbia State Historic Park take great pride in the quality of our school presentations.  We offer a variety of opportunities for school children to have first-hand experiences to augment classroom learning about the California Gold Rush. More than 15,000 fourth graders attend presentations at Columbia State Historic Park each year.

Parking and admission are free, and school groups are welcome to visit the park at any time for self-guided presentations. The park’s concessionaires offer many programs desgned for school audiences. The Columbia Passport, a self-guided touring aid, is available at the museum, or may be ordered in advance of your trip for $1 each. The park staff and volunteers offer three different formal programs aimed at the 4th-grade audience that meet California State Curriculum Standards for fourth grade social studies content. Financial support for these programs is provided by Friends of Columbia State Historic Park.

 

Schoolhouse Living History Program and Town Tour

These two programs can be done alone or together to create a comprehensive Gold Rush field trip depending on time constraints and interest.

The Town Tour consists of a 1-hour program led by park staff starting at the museum and discussing Columbia and the Gold Rush, including the role of fire in the development of Gold Rush towns, the routes miners and merchants took to get to California, where they came from, and how they made their livings in Columbia. Included in the town tour program is a hands-on mining demonstration or general mercantilism presentation.

schoolhouseThe Schoolhouse Program is a 1-hour program at the 1861 historic brick schoolhouse where a costumed schoolteacher presents a program using the methods and tools of the 1861 classroom. History lessons, spelling, reading and math are covered in the program. Students will use slateboards and chalk and learn what school was like for students in the Gold Rush.

To book a tour, please visit the Friends of Columbia State Historic Park Program Registration Page. For additional information, or if you discover any issues when trying to book, please contact Kelly Leage at (209) 532-2023.

 

Gold Trek

This is a unique living history program offered during select Thursdays each spring. This program requires a one-hour online lesson with distance learning interpreter, Alec Knapp. We will contact you once you are registered to schedule the online lesson. A teacher’s guide is provided with a series of required in-class programs and activities led by the teacher. The teacher will divide the classes into companies before the field trip, so the students arrive at the park prepared for their Gold Trek. Each time slot can accommodate 35 students, divided into companies of 7 each. 

When they arrive at the park, the students participate as "companies" in an auction where they have the opportunity to spend or save their money, purchase maps, carts, supplies, and shovels, and start on their journey. Along the route to the gold fields, they encounter charlatans, merchants, ferry crossings, and opportunities to make critical decisions that affect their ability to arrive at the diggins ready to work.

Gold Trek is meant to replicate the experience that many gold seekers faced as they traveled from Stockton to the diggings in search of gold. 

This program requires a one-hour online pre-lesson with park's distance learning interpreter. The pre-lesson is offered in January and February to introduce students to the Gold Rush so they will be better prepared for the Gold Trek and can have a more enriching experience. The lesson covers historical Gold Rush history, Columbia’s town history, routes of travel, and information about the trek from the Port of Stockton to Columbia. The lesson is approximately ½ hour long.

WAITLIST: If you are unable to make reservations for this program because the timeslot is full, please send an email to SchoolGroups with your name, school name, # of students, and phone number to be added to our waitlist. If we have additional spots available or receive a cancellation, we will contact you.

2022 Program Information 

When: Thursdays, March 3, 10, 17, 24, 31, and April 7, 2022
Start Times: 9:30am, 10:00am, and 10:30am.
Program Length: 3 hours.
Cost: This program costs $4.00 per student
How: Registration is available starting October 20, 2021 at friendsofcolumbiashp.com. Click on Schools. 
 

New for 2022! Homeschool Option

Homeschool programs will now have a Gold Trek program tailored to them. There will be 2 start times with a minimum of 7 students from third grade through eighth grade. Several different homeschools will participate in the trek at the same timeslot.

When: April 14, 2022
Start Times: 9:30 and 10:30am
Program Length: 3 hours.
Cost: This program costs $4.00 per student
How: Registration is available starting October 20, 2021 at friendsofcolumbiashp.com. Click on Schools. 

 

Columbia Tent Town Education Days

Each year, docents and staff recreate an early tent town to demonstrate the daily life of Gold Rush mining camps. LaundryEducational programs for 4th graders are offered on the Thursday and Friday of Columbia Diggins Tent Town. Students get a chance to tour the camp and interact with characters from 1852

This program adheres to the state’s curriculum standards, and provides an unbeatable opportunity for students to experience first-hand what they’ve learned in the classroom. This program is very popular and reservations are required.  

When: May 19 & 20, 2022
Start Times: 9:15am, 10:15am, 11:15am, 1:00pm, 2:00pm
Program Length: 1 hour
Cost: This program costs $7.00 per student
How: Registration is available starting October 20, 2021 at friendsofcolumbiashp.com. Click on Schools. 

To preserve the learning environment, classes without reservations are not admitted on Thursday or Friday of the event.  The cost is $7/student, which includes $5 worth of “Columbia Eagles” which are redeemed for goods, food or services in the camp, giving students an opportunity to interact in the mercantile economy of the camp.

WAITLIST: If you are unable to make reservations for this program because the timeslot is full, please send an email to SchoolGroups with your name, school name, # of students, and phone number to be added to our waitlist. If we have additional spots available or receive a cancellation, we will contact you.

• PORTS – Full for 2022.  Columbia SHP is a host site for the Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students Program, or PORTS. This program uses videoconference technology to link students to park personnel and the California gold rush. It introduces California content standards in a fun and interactive way. Click here for a direct link, or go to school programs for a better overview offered by the California State Parks.

• Passports -Columbia’s Passports  is a self-guided touring aid where students are required to find, identify and list items found in locations throughout the park. It’s a treasure hunt of information where they learn firsthand about details of the mining days. It meets the California State Curriculum Standards for fourth grade social studies content.
Passports can be purchased for $1 each in the museum or ordered in advance of your school trip by clicking  here to download and print a Passport order form. Due to high demand for the Passports, prepaid orders are filled first and no orders are shipped without prepayment.

 

Explore PORTS Columbia

Park interpreter giving a virtual tour to a classroomSign up for a virtual field trip to Columbia State Historic Park! Parks Online Resources for Teachers and Students (PORTS) program provides FREE, live, interactive videoconference programs, also known as virtual field trips. K-12 students from California and around the world are connecting with live State Park Interpreters and learning academic content standards within the context of California’s dynamic state park system.

Columbia PORTS programs have booked for the 2021/2022 season. We look forward to seeing you next school year! You can view additional virtual field trips on the PORTS Programs page

 

 

Virtual Programs for 2021 - 2022

Join us for virtual programs or use our digital resources to supplement your lesson plans and provide engaging, educational content for your students! 

Check out these 360° Virtual Tours of Columbia SHP and Schoolhouse!

Open Educational Resources

Digital resources available through Smithsonian Learning Lab.

History of Columbia   Mining in Columbia   Mining Tools   Mining Techniques   Chinese in Gold Rush Columbia   

Introduction California's Gold Rush   Traveling to the Gold Rush

Photos of the cultures who came to the Gold Rush   Coins of the California Gold Rush

 

 

Explore The Park

Self-guided adventures for families and students:

Ranger HucklebearyAgents of Discovery takes you on a free, fun, interactive tour through Agents of Discovery ScreenshotColumbia State Historic Park. This virtual scavenger hunt makes learning fun with multiple choice questions,historic photos and artifacts. 

To Play - Download the Agents of Discovery app using the free ParkWIFI or your mobile data plan. Click the "Missions" button in the app 
 to find Columbia and download the park mission. Once the app is downloaded, WIFI is not needed. Good Luck, Agents!

 For additional information or questions, please email columbiashp@parks.ca.gov