Education Program

Yolo County Gibson Historical Museum School Tours

education-picThird graders are invited for free from all of the Yolo County Schools to schedule a morning tour beginning March 2016, and continuing through June 2016, Tuesday through Friday. Last year, over 1,000 students, parents, teachers, and chaperones participated in the newly revamped five-station tour of the museum, barn, blacksmith shop and grounds. Nearly 20 retired volunteers from Davis and Woodland are or will be receiving training from Linda Santoni and Mary Stokes. All come from educational and professional backgrounds and enthusiastically show, tell, and guide the children during their visit to the museum.

When the children arrive, they have chosen a historical family name from suggestions in a short biographical sketch from the packet sent to teachers containing pre- and post-visit activities. The costumed docents meet the students on the front lawn of the museum and welcome them as the girls put on aprons and the boys don suspenders. They are now prepared to experience the lives of the children of early settlers. At this point, there are a lot of giggles and smiles of anticipation for what is to come.

The family groups are divided into five stations as a result of increased class sizes. One group goes with a volunteer docent into the museum for an oral history tour of approximately 20 minutes. Another group reports to the oldest oak tree (200 years old) on the grounds to begin a scavenger hunt looking at the architecture, trees, plants, and unique fixtures on the grounds. A third group will head for the new catering kitchen to sit around a checkered cloth covered table to learn how to make butter while singing pioneer songs. Butter was one of the products the Gibsons sent by train to San Francisco citizens to savor. The children taste the butter with pretzels at the end of the tour.

Meanwhile, a fourth group will be washing laundry items and wringing them out, with colorful clothes and towels flapping on the line as their accomplishment. The fifth group will be exploring the buggies and wagons in the barn and tools at the blacksmith shop, plus taking turns pushing a plow in the back forty (actually a small open section of the garden) by hand. When the house dinner bell rings, all groups will rotate to the next station until lunch time when the classes are free to sit, eat, and enjoy the beauty of the park and take time to sketch the front of the museum if they like. I believe William Byas Gibson and his family would be proud to be sharing their lives and successful dream.

For more information, please contact Karen Lafferty, Director of Yolo County Gibson Historical Museum School Program, at (530) 666-1400, or by e-mail at