Learning Centers in an authentic, historic setting and designed for your students
Sully's buildings and collections provide vivid contrasts between today's life in Northern Virginia and the everyday realities of life in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Tours and learning center activities focus on the food, clothing, slave life, and schooling of Sully's residents.
For those studying the colonial and federal periods in history, Sully's Museum Education Program brings a hands-on, personalized look at life during the Richard Bland Lee family's residency at Sully from 1794 to 1811. Tours and centers give students an experience that brings to life the textbook study of events and people of the past.
Learning centers and tours highlight aspects of the federal period:
• The beginning of the federal government and establishment of Washington D.C. as the nation's capital
• Life during the time of Presidents George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison
• Contributions of enslaved African Americans
• Cooking techniques in an original, open hearth kitchen
• Workings of a large gentry farm
• Textiles production
• Family life for the Lee family
The museum education programs are offered weekdays from 10 a.m.-noon between October and the winter break, and from March through the end of the school year. A docent leads students through learning center activities and a tour of the main house. Sully's indoor learning centers are available for winter school groups.
Sully offers four hands-on learning centers designed for second through fifth grades:
Students discover the sights and smells of our original 18th century kitchen as they assist with making beaten biscuits.
Compare and contrast life at Sully with today through discussion of the enslaved cook Thornton's role, utensils, methods and available food sources. Make an herb garni to take home and use in the kitchen.
Students do tasks that some of the enslaved community performed at Sully 200 years ago. Activities in the outbuildings, main house and representative slave quarter help students discover the interdependence between the Lees and the valuable contributions of the enslaved African-Americans who lived and worked on this farm.
At the quarter, students develop their knowledge of African-American culture during the years of slavery. Students make a seed packet to take home for planting in addition to doing chores such as hoeing the garden and sweeping the cabin.
Students go back in time and take part in school activities of the mid-19th century. Reading from McGuffey Readers, signing names with quill pens, sealing letters and ciphering on slates bring to life the schoolroom of yesteryear. Students take home a sealed letter and humdinger toy to remember the work and recess of the typical 19th century student.
• Admission is collected when you arrive at Sully's Visitor Center and Squirrel’s Nest Museum Gift Shop.
• Teachers are free.
• $8/Fairfax County school students
• $9/Out-of-county students
• Payment methods accepted: cash, check, MasterCard or Visa. Make checks payable to F.C.P.A - Sully.
We request one adult per 10 children or one to two adults per learning center. Sully can accommodate up to two chaperones per center.
• $8/Fairfax County school chaperones
• $9/Out-of-county chaperones
- Monday: One or two centers. Maximum 30 students. Please arrange classes into equal groups of no more than 15 students per center.
- Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: One to four centers, depending upon the number of students. Maximum 60 students. Please arrange classes into four equal groups of no more than 15 students per center.
- Small groups scheduled on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday may be combined with other groups. Schools will be notified if this occurs.
Examine and share the Learning Packet with your students and fellow teachers. The packet contains letters, an inventory, and worksheets designed to be used both before and after classroom activities. Touchable items representing each of the learning centers will be sent to you prior to your visit.
All materials may be reproduced.
Programs at Sully:
- Meet many of the Virginia SOLs
- Compare and contrast everyday life in the late 18th and early 19th centuries with everyday life today
- Allow each student to participate in a hands-on activity that was part of everyday life in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Hints for Chaperones
- Help maintain order and behavior of students.
- Assist docents in preventing students from handling collection items.
- Help the docent upon request or when necessary during hands-on activities.
- Stay with assigned group.
- Refrain from excessive talking during the program.
- Remember, the museum education program is designed for students.
"Don't Forget" Checklist
- Check Tour Confirmation Sheet for accuracy
- Call with any changes in group size or cancellations
- Provide name tags for students
- Divide groups into equal sizes according to centers offered
- Arrange and instruct chaperones
- Provide directions for the bus driver
- Clean picnic area after use
Want to visit Sully but can't make the trip?
A historical interpreter can come to your school, group, or senior center. There are five great programs available, or a program can be designed just for you. Each program lasts approximately one hour and includes displays and presentations tailored to your group's participants and ages.
Call 703-437-1794 to schedule or for information.
Take a virtual tour of Richard Bland Lee's 1794 house and grounds. Learn about Northern Virginia's first congressman while glimpsing the everyday lives of early Americans.
Slave Life at Sully
The Lees owned between 20 and 40 slaves who worked the Lees’ fields, cooked their food, and washed their laundry. Learn how the enslaved lived and how they worked on the Lees' plantation.
From the Past to the Present... And Back Again
After Richard Bland Lee sold Sully, several other families made Sully their home. Who were they, and how did they change the house to suit their needs and desires? In the 1970s, how did Fairfax County officials restore the house and grounds to the Lee residence? Finally, what are historians and archeologists still looking for on the property?
It takes more than four walls and a roof to make a home. The items that fill the house are just as important as the house. So how did the Lees furnish their home? Learn about the furniture, the dishes, and even Richard's eyeglasses.