School Programs

To reserve a school visit or group tour, please contact our Education Department at (805) 966-1601 ext 108

School Programs

Fiesta costume kids

We offer four interactive, docent-led programs tailored specifically to children in grades K-4.  Learn more about our program in an overview by the Santa Barbara County Education Office HERE.

Memory Basket Museum (K-1)
Based on the popular picture book, Wilfred Gordon MacDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, this program introduces our youngest students to local history through the historical museum experience. After a brief reading of the story, students will explore how a historical museum is like a memory basket and visit the galleries.

Generations (2nd Grade)
Using generations as a measure of time, students will explore exhibit objects belonging to local families and others throughout Santa Barbara’s history. Several children’s literature books also accompany this program. One will be chosen and read to the students prior to their gallery experience.

Hands on History (3rd Grade)
Students enjoy a “focus program” on the Chumash way of life and discover how things changed when the Spanish came. We emphasize the Chumash culture and the fact that they were a hunter-gatherer society prior to the coming of the Europeans. The class participates in a sorting activity deciding what the Chumash used prior to the arrival of the Europeans and what was brought here by the Spanish. After the program, the students dress as Spanish Explorers and explore our galleries.

Witness to History (4th Grade)
Students will use replicas of primary source materials from the Museum’s library, such as photographs, letters and maps, to create a timeline of events in our local history, which also correlate to our State history and view the exhibits in our galleries that relate to different periods of California history in relation to Santa Barbara history. This is a good cooperation activity as the students work in groups to form the timeline. The students then tour our galleries, reinforcing what they have learned in the program.


Combine a Tour of the Museum with a visit to the Presidio!

Presidio, Preserved by the Trust For Historic Preservation

The Dual Tour Program is a partnership between Santa Barbara Historical Museum and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. Just half a block away from one another, school groups can enhance their experience with a visit to two historical sites in the downtown El Pueblo Viejo neighborhood:

  • Complimentary docent-led interactive tours through galleries, courtyards, historical adobes, and a nationally recognized California State Historic Park.
  • Hands on activities for students that follow California State Curriculum standards.
  • Discussion-based lesson plans that encourage critical thinking skills while gaining insightful information about local history from the time of the Chumash to the Mid-20th century.
  • The convenient two-hour experience will provide the a deeper understanding of our history.

The Haunted Mirror

The Haunted Mirror

Visit our new interactive exhibition,  a concept developed to engage children of all ages in the discovery of history.  Inspired by the Alice in the Looking Glass device to link the present to the past to the future, a wall of vintage mirrors beckons visitors to the past with a “doorbell.” The historical characters summoned by the doorbell deliver short monologues about their life and encourage the observers to hunt for evidence of their existence in the Story of Santa Barbara gallery.


For those who cannot make it to the museum, we have various presentations available on Santa Barbara’s history. Please contact us for more information at visitorservices@sbhistorical.org