For Schools & Educators

Create a memorable, immersive educational experience at West Overton Village.

Plan a Field Trip

West Overton Village offers hands-on, educational field trips for groups of all ages, including K-12 schools, colleges, homeschool groups, scouts, camps, daycares, and more.

Learners explore the history of 19th century agriculture and industry through stories of West Overton’s families, workers, and businesses. Our field trips are designed to expand upon studies of history and STEM subjects.

We have many options to customize your field trip. Each group receives a guided tour of the 1838 Overholt Homestead and our museum exhibition, Forging Ahead and Falling Behind. You can then select from a "menu" of additional guided tours and hands-on DIY (Do-it-Yourself) History Activities. Each program lasts about half an hour. On the day of the field trip, programs are often arranged as stations that small groups rotate through. The number of programs can vary according to your group's size and arrival / departure times. Our staff will work with you to create the best experience for your group.

Field trips are available May 1 - October 31. Please contact Director of Visitor Engagement Pam Curtin at to discuss further.

Guided Tours

We offer guided tours to provide an up-close look at our historic buildings and museum. These guided tours are tailored to the group's age / level and include some hands-on interaction with artifacts.

Take a guided tour of the original home of the Overholt family built in 1838. Explore rooms filled with artifacts, portraits, and artwork that tell stories over centuries. Learn about 19th century life, the history of the Overholt and Frick families, and how the home changed over time as it was passed through generations. These stories come to life in Abraham and Maria Overholt's room, the Mural Room depicting scenes of early Westmoreland County history, and the converted bedroom that pays tribute to the Overholts' Mennonite heritage.
Take a guided tour of our Museum’s award-winnning exhibition, Forging Ahead and Falling Behind: Industrial Growth in a Rural Community, and discover what it was like to live and work at West Overton. This exhibit explores the variety of jobs that villagers at West Overton performed, including farming, milling, weaving, coopering, housekeeping, coal mining, and more. Students can interact with artifacts including a 19th century fanning mill and hand-powered washing machine, step inside a 300,000 lb. capacity grain bin, explore a recreated general store, and look inside a restored coal car.
Take a guided tour of our new Visible Collections, which houses a variety of objects from our museum collection. These objects represent the breadth of our museum collection that preserves the history of Westmoreland and Fayette Counties. Explore displays of agriucltural tools, medical equipment, musical instuments, textiles, furniture, and more.
At the Educational Distillery, learn how grains like rye and barley were cultivated, ground into flour, or fermented and distilled as a means of food preservation. Distilling was an important practice for farmers to transport and sell their excess grain in the 18th and 19th centuries. For the Overholts, distilling became a primary business and well respected craft, supported by farming and milling. These industries led to the development of West Overton’s expansive village. 

DIY History Activities

DIY (Do-it-Yourself) History Activities are hands-on activities and demonstrations that reflect the daily lives of people at West Overton. Students learn how villagers used their skills and knowledge to operate farms, businesses, and households. Led by our experienced educators, DIY History Activities engage students’ senses and motor skills.

The availability DIY History Activities varies according to age group, time of year, and staff availability. Please discuss your interests with Director of Visitor Engagement Pam Curtin at

Play with the games and toys that entertained children in the 19th century. See how familiar games like ring toss and tug of war have evolved over time, and learn some new ones, too, such as the game of graces. We provide a variety of games and toys that can be enjoyed individually and in groups.
Discover how technologies have changed over time to make this household chore faster and more efficient. Explore laundering tools ranging from the washboard to vintage washing machines, led by a guide who will manage safe interactions or demonstrations.
Visit the historic outdoor kitchen and learn how the hearth and beehive oven were used to cook a variety of foods. Identify differences and similarities between these technologies and modern kitchen appliances. Discover historic foodways and food preservation techniques.
Learn how butter was historically made in a churn and the science behind transforming cream into butter. Students make their own butter in a small container to take home.
Uncover the science of how people in the 19th century took fireplace ashes and turned them into a household cleaning product. Students will make their own melt-and-pour bar of soap scented with traditional herbs like lavender and sage.
Explore lighting technologies spanning the 18th century to the present, from tin lanterns to a coal miner’s lamp. Students will dip their own wax candles and learn about the necessity of making candles before electricity. This program is best for children ages 10 and up.
Weaving was an important art and industry at West Overton. Learn about the Overholts’ tradition of weaving coverlets, an intricately patterned bed covering, and how textiles were made using different organic materials and dyes. Students will weave with yarn and a small, take-home cardboard loom.
Explore the art and history of quilting. Look closely at historic quilts in our museum collection and learn about patterns and storytelling. Students will make a paper quilt block to take home.
Use a historic rope making tool to create a piece of rope to take home. Learn about the natural materials used in rope, how those materials were braided, and why rope was so important to farmers and other workers. 
Learn about the importance of food preservation on the Overholts’ farm. See how cabbage was shredded and turned into sauerkraut through the process of fermentation. This program is best offered in the fall.
Try your hand at a historic corn fodder chopper traditionally used to chop cornstalks into animal bedding. Learn about the machinery and 19th century animal husbandry. This program is only offered in the fall.
Learn about the history of the iron, coal, and coke industries in western Pennsylvania and explore a display of natural history specimens and artifacts. Watch as a lead ball is cast and learn about the science of smelting metals. 
Examine primary sources, such as artifacts and documents, from West Overton Village's collection to explore what these objects meant to people at the time they were created and what they tell us as historians today. Students will practice the skills of historians, learning how to "read" a primary source and working in small groups to conduct their own analyses. 
What stories do artifacts tell us? Students will practice the skills of curators as we discuss how to take a single artifact and draw out broader historical themes and meaningful connections. Students will work in small groups, studying an artifact and imagining their method of interpretation and audience. This activity pairs well with the Primary Source Analysis.

Field Trip Procedures 

  • Field trips are available May 1 - October 31.
  • There should be 1 adult chaperone for every 8 children. Chaperones will be admitted to the Museum free of change. Any additional adults will be charged the regular admission rate.
  • Groups are welcome to bring bagged lunches. The Overholt Room, our indoor venue, can seat about 100. Contact us for larger group options. We also invite you to enjoy a picnic lunch on the Homestead lawn, weather permitting. 
  • Groups should dress appropriately for the weather and scheduled activities. 
  • Please contact us with any questions and concerns regarding accessibility accommodations.
  • While many of our activities are hands-on, visitors should not touch artifacts unless staff of West Overton Village invite them to do so. This protects the artifacts in our care as well as our visitors.

Contact Us

Please contact Director of Visitor Engagement Pam Curtin at or fill out this form to request your field trip. Completing this form requests a field trip, but does not confirm your group’s visit. Our team will reply to your request as soon as possible.  

Teach with our Digital Archive

Browse our digital archive to find primary sources, including written documents, newspaper clippings, illustrations, photographs, and advertisements, to use in the classroom.