Pioneers: Life Before Steam (Gr. 2)


In this popular program, kids learn about how things were made in pre-industrial Nova Scotia as they make their own traditional crafts. The printing press and the loom are featured as examples of technology used in early 19th century Nova Scotia. Students also 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. 

Links to Nova Scotia Dept. of Education Curriculum:

Grade 2 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:

  • Generating basic information questions regarding home and school
  • Choose from simple sets of options the most useful visual or textual resource
  • Restate information or offer a simple interpretation
  • Construct drawings and other simple graphics supplemented with basic written and oral communication to clearly share ideas and information
  • Cooperate in small group settings by adopting simple group management strategies


2 hours

Program Capacity

  • 2 classes (50 students maximum)
  • 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 bookmark to take home.

30 minutes: Weaving Activity
Students learn about the production of textiles and clothing by using yarn and a weaving frame to weave a small piece of fabric

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!