Museums tailor George Washington programs to homeschool students
by Marie Nesmith
Feb 24, 2014 | 550 views | 0 0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print
By Marie Nesmith

In honor of Presidents Day, Georgia Museums Inc. on Friday will offer programs at Bartow History Museum and Booth Western Art Museum for homeschool students and their parents. Geared for students in grades two through 12, the activities will focus on George Washington from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“We’re going to have two rotating 20-minute presentations,” said Charity Chastain, manager of programs for the Bartow History Museum, 4 E. Church St. in Cartersville. “They’ll start on the half hour, so 10:30, 11:30, 12:30 all the way to 2:30.

“It rotates between ‘Washington’s childhood: Life as a colonist’ and then the ‘One-room schoolhouse: Self-motivated, self-taught.’ Because of his upbringing, he wasn’t really formally schooled and there’s not a whole lot known about his childhood. So we’re going to compare what we do know about him to a typical colonial child’s schooling.”

Along with crafts, the participants also will play games and learn interesting facts about the nation’s first president.

“One of the things we always focus on with the presidential Home School Days are their pets, because most kids love animals,” Chastain said. “So we’re going to focus on the fact that he bred the first American foxhound as far as we know. Then he also had the first male donkey in the U.S. and apparently that line still exists. So we’re going to talk a little bit about those and they get to do a craft. They’re going to make a little donkey puppet to kind of incorporate that.

“... We’re also going to play George Washington bingo, which is hysterical and that’s where we really incorporate a lot of [the] fun facts — the type of pets he had, the fact that he wore a wig, the fact that he was a surveyor at a very young age. ... We want them to have a lot of fun and not realize that they learned a whole bunch while they were here and just get an appreciation for the fact that history can be a lot of fun. It’s not boring.”

At the Booth Western Art Museum, the day’s activities also will feature presentations, crafts and games, with a spotlight on the venue’s Carolyn & James Millar Presidential Gallery.

“George Washington will be here in person for the students to interact with and they can ask him questions and he can tell them something about his history as president,” said Lisa Wheeler, director of education for the Booth, 501 Museum Drive in Cartersville. “And in our theater, our wonderful historian and storyteller Jim Dunham will be presenting two stories about George.

“One of them is ‘Parson Weems Fable’ and the other one is ‘George Washington and the General’s Dog’ and students after hearing the stories — they’ll get to decide which story is true and which story is false. There’ll be an art activity where they can create a George Washington portrait [and] we have a couple of games.”

The participants also will be able to tour the museum’s Presidential Gallery, which features a portrait, interesting facts and letter for each U.S. president.

“In our Presidential Gallery, they’ll learn what a primary document is in terms of an actual letter from a president,” Wheeler said. “In our Presidential Gallery, it’s very unusual in that we have an original signed letter by every president of the United States from George Washington through Barack Obama. Before typewriters, all those letters were also handwritten and after typewriters and computers, they still have the original signatures.

“The letters are very random in terms of the subject matter, like there’s one talking about a president that’s concerned about the stock market or Abe Lincoln having to make a decision about executing some Native Americans. The topics are just all over the place. [You get a sense of the] time period and their individual personalities and I like to see the handwriting variety.”

The cost to attend these offerings will be $5 for students and $3 for adults. For more information, visit or To sign up, contact Marcia Dillard at 770-387-3849 or