PASS IT ON | For Teachers | For Students |For Families | It Happened Near Me | Scavenger Hunts

Teaching In and About the Mosby Heritage Area

A visit from the Mosby Heritage Area Association has become an integral part of our 4th grade curriculum. Many of our students have talked about going to some of the sites on your scavenger hunt over summer break with their families.
— Sharon Mosley, 4th Grade Teacher, Countryside Elementary School

Let Us Bring Your Local History into the Classroom

Above: Former Director of Education Kevin Pawlak speaks to Waterford Elementary students about John Brown's Raid

Above: Former Director of Education Kevin Pawlak speaks to Waterford Elementary students about John Brown's Raid

We live in one of the fastest-growing regions in America and can see that growth all around. Yet just over the next hill or a short drive from home is one of the best-preserved historic landscapes in America. It is a landscape that tells stories of the earliest Americans, English colonials, German and Irish immigrants, Quakers and enslaved peoples. And from 1861 into 1865, the backroads and stone barns, hayfields and hamlets tell the stories of the Civil War.

Loudoun, Fauquier, Clarke, Warren and western Prince William places provide splendid examples of U.S. and Virginia history playing out locally. These places and stories can help make your classroom studies more relevant to students because the events feature places they pass by all the time. Inevitably, your students will realize the value of saving historical places and landscapes both here and wherever they ultimately live.

Call us at (540) 687-5188, email us, or click the button below to fill out our program request form.  

Classroom Presentations

Each free classroom presentation includes

  • A professionally trained public historian with classroom experience

  • Free scavenger hunts for each student

  • Primary sources and fascinating stories from your area!

Information and forms you'll need:

Upper Elementary School Program Offerings

Virginia and the New Nation: Discover your county’s colonial history, including stories from English descendants from the Tidewater and international immigrants like the German ‘Dutch’, Scots-Irish, and Africans. Students will explore themes of Virginia geography and how the landscape of the Piedmont and Blue Ridge shaped agricultural practices and social developments in the 18th century. Finally, the group will learn about local contributions to the Revolutionary War and the early Republic!

Activities to follow the Revolution program

The Land of the Free I: For 4th and 5th graders. This program examines enslavement and freedom as it played out in the Heritage Area from 1850-1900, which allows us to explore how enslavement operated in northern Virginia, to discover cases of the Underground Railroad at work in our region, and to see examples of the impact of the Civil War and Reconstruction on local African Americans.

Activities to follow The Land of the Free

Our Civil War Heritage I: Designed for 4th and 5th graders taking Virginia Studies and customized for each county, this program introduces students to complex local decisions about secession, the role of enslavement, the first experiences with all-out war, freedom seekers, John Singleton Mosby’s guerilla war that involved civilians during 1863-65, and the devastation brought in 1864 by the Great Burning Raid. All are brought to life with stories from local historic sites, images, and artifacts.

Activities to follow Civil War Heritage

Aldie Triangle Program (April 2020 dates TBD): A field trip program for students to examine the impact of the Civil War as they rotate between 3 historic sites near Aldie. Students will visit Aldie Mill, a milling complex at Aldie run where a skirmish took place; another skirmish site, Mount Zion, a small 1851 country church which was used as a Civil War hospital with an adjacent Civil War-era cemetery, and Oak Hill, the private home of founding father James Monroe and his wife, Elizabeth Kortright Monroe.

Activities to follow the Aldie Triangle program

Middle School School Program Offerings

The Land of the Free II: Designed for 6th and 7th graders taking U.S History I or II. With the end to the Civil War, Northern Virginia found itself undergoing massive change. With the end of enslavement, the destruction of farms, devastation of mills, ruin of transportation infrastructure, and the new life experiences of freedmen, the region would have to re-invent itself. Students use local historic sites and their stories to examine the local experiences of 1865-1888. This program is particularly recommended for a near-the-beginning-of school 7th grade program.

Our Civil War Heritage II: Designed for 6th graders taking U.S. History I. this program focuses on the experiences of Loudoun County in 1862. The year encapsulated the area’s Civil War experience—the ever-present military, dog money, invasion, freedom seekers, battles, and even romance—Leesburg saw what it had never seen before. Using local historic sites and their accounts and stories, this program is an easy way to give your sixth graders a sense of the Civil War as it played out locally.

Seeking Civil Rights: Snapshots from the Mosby Heritage Area: Designed for students taking U.S History II. The Civil Rights movement and the problems that gave rise to it were alive and growing here in the Heritage Area. The landscape of that era and the landmarks of that fight still exist today. Through photography and incidents based in this landscape, MHAA staff present stories that give a sense of the 1940s, 50s, and 60s as the Civil Rights struggle evolved. Each student will receive a history scavenger hunt for their county and information about key sites of the Civil Rights fight that are still a part of their everyday landscape.

High School Program Offerings

John Brown’s Raid: Designed for mature U.S. and Virginia History classes. This program looks at the 1859 case of John Brown as he attempted a massive revolt of enslaved peoples at the federal armory at Harpers Ferry. Students will explore the experience of the enslaved, enslavement opposition on the eve of the Civil War, the young abolitionist raiders, and the impact of the failed raid on Northern Virginia. Students will receive relevant web sites for follow-up research as well as a guide to local historical sites that tell the story of John Brown and enslavement before the Civil War. Teachers will receive a Document-Based Question (DBQ) for use with Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History and Government classes.

Civil War: Looking Beyond the Textbook—Designed for U.S.,  Virginia History, and Human Geography students. This program is specifically designed for high school students to explore the historic landscape of your county and its human interest stories. At the end of the program, we give students a history scavenger hunt booklet of your county we’ve designed to get them to go explore some of the best local historic places with classmates.

The Land of the Free III: Designed for U.S. and Virginia History students. This program examines the end of the Civil War and the coming of Reconstruction as it played out in this region. The program explores the reaction of returning Confederates, Union occupation, the Freedman’s Bureau, the creation of public schools, and the introduction of Jim Crow laws. Teachers receive a document-based question (DBQ) for their Advanced Placement (AP) students based on the program.

Seeking Civil Rights: Snapshots from the Mosby Heritage Area: Designed for 11th graders in Loudoun, Clarke, or Fauquier counties taking U.S and Virginia History. Through photography and incidents based in that historic landscape, Heritage Area staff will present a collage of stories that give a sense of the 1940s, '50s, and '60s as the Civil Rights struggle evolved. Each student will receive a history scavenger hunt for their county as well as information about key sites of the Civil Rights fight that still are a part of their everyday landscape.

Scavenger Hunts in the Mosby Heritage Area

Scavenger hunts are now available for Loudoun, Clarke, Fauquier, and western Prince William counties. Each with a map and careful directions for the driver, these scavenger hunts get your students and their families out into the history of your county, visiting historic sites, villages, and back roads that make our region unique.  You can download the scavenger hunts here on the website. They are also available in booklet form: they are given to all students when we visit your classroom with a program. They make a good extension to what you do in class and a great “extra credit” family activity. Students who complete the scavenger hunt are rewarded with a Mosby Heritage Area T-shirt. Please encourage students to explore their county with the scavenger hunt during the summer—there is no time limit.

It Happened Near Me:  Pieces of the Past From Where I Live

Want to work some local history examples into your U.S. History class so students see how their local area connects to what they are studying? Need to have your students work more with primary sources and photographs to develop their analysis skills? Need “sponge activities” for your students those first 10 minutes of class while you take attendance, hand out papers, and talk with individual students? You'll find the materials for "It Happened Near Me" activities here.

The John Singleton Mosby section on this website also provides you with further resources for extending studies beyond the classroom.