We began a journey to develop a specialized tour, with cooresponding curriculum, that would help us accommodate the high volume of student groups desiring to take field trips to the plantation. We have been able to overcome these limitations of the Big House by offering this student inspired experience in lieu of our traditional visitor experience.
As a teacher or field-trip coordinator, here are a few notes to help you understand the program:
What topics are covered on the tour?
• French Creole Life in Louisiana in the 1800s. Topics include the Jacques T. Roman family, French heritage and Creole traditions in Louisiana. Follwing the presentation with one of our historical interpreters, a Q&A session will be held underneath the Alley of Oaks.
• Slavery at Oak Alley Plantation. As students walk through our "Slavery at Oak Alley" exhibit with a historical interpreter, they will learn more through our focused approach to sharing history about the individuals who were enslaved here at Oak Alley Plantation. Here we discuss the daily lives of specific people that were enslaved here, and their struggle to find freedom throughout the 1800s.
• Sugarcane and its impact on Louisiana. Sugarcane had a major cultural and economic influence on this region of Louisiana since the 1800s. In this session, our historical interpreter will talk about fundamentals of how sugarcane is planted and harvested, how sugar is created, and how it has impacted the lives of both free people and the enslaved. Session is hosted in our Sugar Cane Theater.
• US Civil War. Underneath our Commanding Officer's Tent exhibit, a historical interpreter will discuss the US Civil War: it's causes, the results, and its direct impact on Oak Alley Plantation and the River Region of Louisiana. Students will discuss why the war began, who was fighting whom, why some plantations were destroyed during the war, and the war's impact on slavery in the US.
• Blacksmith Shop (time permitting). The teacher may allow students to take a self-guided tour of our 1800s-era blacksmith shop, and learn more about how blacksmithing made a valuable contribution to plantation life.
What to expect before you arrive to the plantation:
• The program is focused around four topic areas important to the history of Louisiana's river region.
• The program is written to cover an age appropriate level of material, depending on your group's ages.
• The program is totally outdoors, and the antebellum mansion referred to as the "Big House" is not accessible during your visit.
• Your group may be broken up into smaller groups that make "rounds" to various educational stations, where the groups will interact with Oak Alley's historical interpreters. This allows for more time spent with live historians in an informal Q&A session, with more hands-on activities.
• Because of the extra resources required for us to deliver this specialized tour, availability is limited. The program is only offered to prescheduled school groups on Tuesday & Wednesday from 9am-12pm and must be prescheduled.
• Groups of more than 120 total visitors will be asked to split their visits into multiple dates.
• This program will take about 1.5 hours to complete at the plantation. Please keep this in mind when scheduling your trip.
• We have a picnic area that is available to school groups, availabile on a first-come, first-served basis. This must be prescheduled. If the weather does not permit a picnic lunch, we recommend having your children dine on their buses.
• Boxed lunches are available for purchase for groups who schedule this in advance.
What do you need to share with your chaperones and parents?
• The education tour is totally written for students, and does not go into the "Big House" . Please make sure parents' expectations are set appropriately.
• Large groups are broken into smaller groups for more interactive learning. Parents may choose to stay with their child's group in most cases.
• We must plan for how many chaperones and parents are attending, even if you are not booking or paying for their visit. Even a rough estimate of how many parents will be attending will help us make your experience better. We plan our resources around the *total* number of people in your group, not just the number of students that your school is paying for.
**Special note, in order for parents to receive the group/school discount, their admissions MUST be included with the group payment.
Reminder: It is important that you help us set expectations for parents and
chaperones: the Student Educational Experience tour does not enter the
Big House (mansion) at any time.
For schools unable to visit the plantation can inquire about our Virtual Student Tours
or contact Gary
for additional informaiton.