Christmas Pioneers (Gr. 2-6)


Discover what Christmas was like for children of the past. Before big-box stores and on-line shopping, home-made toys and simple gifts expressed the spirit of the season. Crafts, stories and candy canes melting on the tongue will transport students two hundred years back in time.

During the program, students accompany a Museum interpreter on a tour of the pre-industrial exhibits, and use interactive displays to learn about the use of hand tools, simple machines, and water power in manufacturing products. Students also print their own Christmas card on a printing press, and make a simple toy, familiar to children of the past. The program ends with a story about Christmas in the mid-19th century.

Links to Nova Scotia Dept. of Education Curriculum:

Specific Learning Outcomes (Social Studies, ELA):

  • Demonstrate an understanding that people have changed technology over time to meet their needs, wants, and interests (SS 2.2.2).
  • Develop an understanding of the changing nature of work over time (SS 2.3.3).
  • Describe, share and discuss thoughts, feelings and experiences and consider others’ ideas (ELA 1.1)
  • Participate in conversation, small-group and whole-group discussions, understanding when to speak and when to listen (ELA 2.1)

Social Studies Skills:

  • Identify several obvious details from simple visual, oral and written sources
  • Cooperate in small group settings by adopting simple group management strategies
  • Restate information or offer a very simple interpretation based on direct clues


2 hours

Program Capacity

  • 2 classes (50 students)

  • 1 chaperones for every 5 students



Program Outline

Arrival: Bathrooms, hang up coats

5 minutes: Welcome and introduction
Students are divided into small groups to take part in the tour and craft activities, and each group participates in all components of the program.

30 minutes: Tour of Pre-Industrial Gallery
Students tour the Pre-Industrial Gallery and use interactive exhibits to learn how people of the early 1800’s used the technologies of water power and simple machines to do work and make things.

30 minutes: Printing Press activity
Students learn how printing presses were used to create texts and communicate ideas and information. Students then print a Christmas card to take home.

30 minutes: Christmas Toy
Students make a simple “climbing Santa” toy, and discuss reasons why gifts might be home-made rather than bought.

20 minutes: Christmas Story
Students listen to a Christmas story from “Little House on the Prairie”, and share ideas about how Christmas in the mid 1800’s was different from today.

5 minutes: Conclusion and dismiss

Information and Reservations

To reserve your program, please call: (902) 755-5425 or email

Registration will begin in September. We encourage you to book early!