EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES OFFERED BY THE BERKSHIRE COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
The Historical Society works with educators and groups to use the fascinating history of Arrowhead and 19th century Berkshire County in a wide range of educational programs. We are expanding our programs and options with the hiring of Education Coordinator Jana Laiz. Check back often for more updates!
Melville-Focused On-Site Tour:
Our traditional house and grounds tour focuses on Arrowhead as the site where Herman Melville wrote Moby-Dick in 1850-51, as well as a number of other well-known works, including the Piazza Tales. While telling his story we also touch upon the history of the house, the farm, of Pittsfield, and of Berkshire County. This tour can be tailored to the age and interest of the students, whether the youngest visitors, grade-schoolers exploring the county’s past, high school students reading Melville, or college students looking to know more about his writing process.
Melville-Focused Off-Site Program:
Inspired by Melville: Writing about the Berkshires (Writing about Place)
Jana Laiz, The Society’s Education Coordinator and Writer-in-Residence Emerita, runs an education program, Inspired by Melville, visiting schools to introduce Herman Melville and the Berkshires’ landscape to school children. Jana then uses the idea of “place” in writing exercises.
Prior to Jana’s visit to schools, teachers can pre-teach, introducing students to Herman Melville, Arrowhead as well as to Jana’s writing. (Her book, Billy Budd in the Breadbox can be used to introduce students to Melville from grades 3 and up) When she arrives, they have an understanding of who she is and her relationship to Herman Melville.
Over the course of the visit to each class, there will be a Q&A session, where students are invited to ask a variety of author-related questions, including questions about Melville; what it is like to sit at his desk and write where he wrote, how to get a book published…
Jana then shows slides of Arrowhead, including the view of Mt. Greylock from the window, the grounds, picture of Herman, and photos of herself in the study. She introduces the students to several children’s versions of Moby-Dick, talks about the novel, and brings out a quill pen to show the students how Herman Melville wrote his books.
She offers the students examples of her own works, both published and unpublished, and reads from them. Discussions of the elements of writing a story; setting, character, plot ensue.
From there Jana introduces students to the concepts of “place” as inspiration and they participate in an engaging writing exercise. Jana uses a variety of pictures – beautiful images from nature, cityscapes and The Berkshires. Students get to choose one and then write a short narrative, story or description of these. Students are encouraged to share with the class, and are applauded for their willingness to participate, but will not be given any critique.
The Historical Society has a variety of school programs that can be tailored to fit your needs. Don’t see something you are interested in? Just ask! These programs can be done in the classroom or at Arrowhead.
Early History Program:
For grade school students (grades 3-5, can be adapted for other ages) this program, which meets MCAS Standards, discusses Berkshire County life of the 18th and 19th century, map-reading, and early schools and teaching.
More than Melville: What is it?
Working directly with the BCHS curator, teachers can select up to five artifacts from the BCHS collection and have these brought into the classroom. BCHS staff will create pre- and post-visit materials to prepare the class for what they will see and provide analytical questions to ask when looking at objects. Topics may include but are not limited to: early Pittsfield history, 19th century childhood (toys, games and pastimes), and Native Americans in the Berkshires.
For questions or to make a reservation, please contact the Executive Director.
We at Berkshire County Historical Society strive to provide at home education programs that engages the whole family. We offer a video series, scavenger hunts, and other activity sheets that are engaging and educational.
Berkshire Map Activity: Use this map to guide you through the history of Pittsfield. Click here for lesson one, lesson two, lesson three, and lesson four.
Stanwix’s Scavenger Hunt: Stanwix was Herman and Lizzie’s second eldest child, who was born here at Arrowhead. He played in the woods and fields and knew them well! Click the link for the printable scavenger hunt board! Click here for the second worksheet.
History Detectives: Use these videos to get engaged in historical objects, and how to learn more about these objects. Click here for our first video, and the printable worksheet.
Melville Quiz: Looking to test your knowledge of Melville? Take our quiz!
Postcard Tour: Take a tour of historic Pittsfield with our interactive postcard tour. Available on our Community Stories page.
Memory Mapping: Take a trip down memory lane, and make a map for us! Check this flyer for more details.