Olana State Historic Site
5720 Route 9G
Hudson, NY 12534
Ellen Carr, Orlinda Carafellow, Kathy Durkin
Students learn about Hudson River School painter Frederic Church. Topics include his work and family as well as his home, Olana, and its natural setting.
- What makes Olana such a popular destination for tourists?
- What do you notice about Frederic Church's paintings and home?
- What was life like for Frederic Church's children?
- Basic information about plants and animals, especially birds, living at Olana.
- Information about the design and building of the house and other structures.
- Basic facts about Church's paintings and life.
Depending on your emphasis and what you do in class before or after the visit, Olana can help you teach concepts related to any of the following:
- Living Environment, e.g., contrast and compare different living things
- Places and Regions
- Change, e.g, communities and people change over time.
- Environment and Society, e.g., humna decisions affect the environment
- Math, e.g, relationships between two- and three-dimensional shapes
A trip to Olana can be an opportunity to introduce some or all of these words:
Suggested Time Frame(s)The visit requires at least three hours. The pre- and post-visit lessons can be adapted to fit the time you have but require at least 15 or 20 minutes.
NarrativePre- Visit activities: Give students some background on Frederic Church and Olana. Use a class brainstorm to complete the first two parts of a KWL chart -- What we know about Olana and what we wonder (want to learn) about Olana. After the visit, they will complete part 3, what you learned.
Show students the National Audubon Society First Field Guide: Birds (see resource list) that they will use during the trip.
On-site: we took six classes and ate lunch on arrival. Then, we divided into groups for six, rotating, half-hour mini-lessons. Each session is designed to help students learn about art, history, and other cultures related to Frederic Church and Olana. Stations may vary depending on the Olana staff available and others you may call on to create activities.
- Station A: This bird watching activity was led by a member of the Audubon Society. The leader guided students along the garden walk helping them spot and identify birds, insects, and plants. Students recorded the birds they saw using the form in the attachment sections.
- Station B: A video describes the cultural history of Olana and Frederic Church's impact on art and architecture.
- Station C: Using the KWL students created before the visit, our art teacher helped children identify the land forms visible from Olana and described significant features of the buildings. Then, students sketched the landscape or Olana.
- Station D: Using the information and specific details they gathered throughout the day, students wrote in their journals. Possible prompts include: describe the day's events, describe Olana to a member of your family who has never visited, pretend you are an Olana tour guide.
- Station E: An Olana educator reviewed key ideas from the video (station B) and took the children on a tour of the outside of the building. Architectural design and cultural history are highlighted and there is usually time for questions. Make sure the educator gets a copy of the students' KWL so he or she can incorporate their interests and questions.
- Station F: A parent story teller helped students use their imaginations by telling the fictional story of a little mouse who lived with Church and his family at Olana. The mouse describes Church's children, their toys and games, how the family spent evenings, and the children's routines and responsibilities.
- A small journal or notebook for each student
- Sketch pads and pencils
What Should Students Know At The End of This Lesson
- Basic information about Frederic Church, his painting, and his Hudson Valley home, Olana.
- Basic information about Olana's natural setting and the plants and animals there.
- Basic information about the lives of Church and his family.
What Should Students Be Able To Do at the End of This Lesson
- Identify some of the birds that live in our area.
- Use bird and/or plant guides.
- Sketch a building or natural setting.
- Describe an experience in writing.
- Identify and create symmetrical shapes like those used in Olana.
How do you assess student learning?You can assess students based on their:
- Knowlege of birds using their completed BIRD WATCHING FIELD RECORD and BIRD TALK sheets (see attachments).
- Understanding of/appreciation for the history and/or culture represented by Church's work as shown in their journal entries and/or sketches.
- Paticipation in discussions.
Site TipsVisit www.olana.org/learn to see pre-planned activities and tours -- inside and out. Then, contact the site educator to fine tune plans for your group and to be sure your goals are met.
Olana is also well suited to programs led by family members, other teachers, or your community contacts. You will note that we used all of these in the stations described above.