Curriculum-Based Lessons

Quest for Freedom

In this program, students examine and discuss Philadelphia’s pivotal role in the national story of the anti-slavery movement in the 18th and 19th centuries. Students consider a variety of artifacts from the time period and discuss their contemporary relevance. See the Quest for Freedom City History Lesson for more information on this acclaimed program. 75 minutes.    

Grade Level: 5 and above
Price: $6 per student

Group size: Maximum number is 40 students

Where in the World is Philadelphia?

An interactive educational program on the largest map of Philadelphia ever created—the Experience Philadelphia! exhibit on the Philadelphia History Museum floor. Students learn directions, map symbols, coordinates, and scale by finding important city landmarks and their own neighborhoods.
60 minutes.

Grade Level: 1-4
Price: $5 per student
Group size: Maximum number is 30 students

Meet William Penn: planner, real estate developer, visionary, and immigrant 

This program introduces William Penn and his plans for creating an ideal city-Philadelphia.  Using the large floor map of Philadelphia, students identify and discuss the natural features that attracted Penn to locate the city’s here; trace the city’s original boundaries, main streets, and squares;  and mark out  where the early settlers lived. In the second part of the program, students explore the exhibition galleries with docents using a set of clues to find Penn-related objects and paintings. Students are given structured note taking booklets to record what they found and what the objects tell us about William Penn and life in early Pennsylvania.  

1 hour and 15 minutes (add 15- 20 minutes if students do the quill Penn activity)
Grade Level: 3rd-6th
Group Size:  12-35
Cost: $5 per student
FEATURED ARTIFACTS: Every Object Tells a Story

  • Compass used to lay out Philadelphia’s grid plan
  • Wampun belt that legends holds William Penn received at the 1683 Treaty of Shackamaxon
  • Portrait of William Penn as a young man in armor
  • Portraits of Lenape chiefs-Tishcohan and Lapowinsa
  • Personal items belonging to William Penn
  • Treaty Elm painting commemorating the Treaty of Shackamaxon

Creating a Nation/Revitalizing a City: Philadelphia Capital City 1790-1800 

This program introduces students to the people, ideas, civic culture, trends, and challenges that defined Philadelphia- the Capital City. It highlights the ways in which being the capital city for a decade helped Philadelphia to recover from the Revolutionary War, especially from the British occupation of the city. Students work in groups on the large floor map of Philadelphia to locate who lived where and why, the geography of the yellow fever epidemics, where people went for fun and where they went to escape the summer heat, and the natural features that made Philadelphia a transportation hub for people and products.  Each group of students introduces what they discovered and then individually writes a description of Philadelphia the Capital City using what they learned from the map activity. Exploring the galleries using a set of clues, they explore the back stories of artifacts and paintings to continue building a profile of the people, places, and ideas that shaped the city and the new nation. Students record the additional information they uncover and write a question about what they would have liked to know about the capital city but did not learn today. The program concludes with sharing their questions and brainstorming how to answer them.    

90 minutes
Grade Level: 7-10
Group size: 12-35
Cost: $5 per student

  • President George Washington
  • Martha Washington
  • Charles Willson Peale
  • Aaron Levy
  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Francis Hopkinson
  • Emily Mifflin Hopkinson
  • Pat Lyon at the Forge


  • Desk from  President Washington’s home office at Sixth and Market Streets
  • George Washington’s pocket watch
  • Pennsylvania Abolition Society membership certificate
  • Key to the Walnut Street prison
  • Gorget 1793- given to native American leaders when visiting Philadelphia to discuss treaties/show Washington and a native leader
  • Shackles/harness

City of Neighborhoods: Immigrant Neighborhoods Past and Present

This program introduces students to Philadelphia immigrant neighborhoods, past and present, examining when they were formed and when and why they changed. The program begins by reviewing the push/pull factors that bring immigrants to Philadelphia. Students learn the defining characteristics of immigrant neighborhoods and why newly arrived immigrants often live, shop, work, worship, and celebrate in these communities. Students learn the concept of ethnic succession (neighborhood change) by “reading” photographs with evidence of the changing demographic profile of the community.  Students tour the galleries looking for objects that tell the story of immigration to Philadelphia and connects immigrants to their country and culture of origin.  

Cost: $5 per student
1 hour to 1.5 hours
Grade Level: 4th-8th
Group size: 10-35

FEATURED ARTIFACTS: Every Object Tells a Story

  • Schoenhut toys
  • Rocking horse
  • Luchessi sign
  • Hmong basket
  • Bocce balls
  • Quinceanera crown
  • Shabbat candle holder