From shearing sheep to planting fields, kids can learn online or in person at Mahaffie

·3 min read

Ready to saddle up and learn about the mid-19th century in Olathe? The Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm has something for anyone who would like to visit, either virtually or in person. The historic farm has been running field trips every Wednesday this spring.

The Mahaffie Activities for Today’s Students program starts with a Nearpod lesson via the farm’s website.

The program includes games, fun facts and videos from Mahaffie, as well as other museums and living history sites. Topics covered so far have included 1860s occupations, sheep shearing and spring planting.

“There’s a phenomenal museum community that has put resources together on select topics,” said Katie Lange, daily programs coordinator for Mahaffie.

For instance, the Nearpod lesson on spring planting includes video of plowing. Fields have already been prepped for the season, Lange said.

Mahaffie volunteer Lucy Boese, 11, helps out volunteering at the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm.
Mahaffie volunteer Lucy Boese, 11, helps out volunteering at the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm.

“It’s a chance for people, from comfort of their own home, to see more of the process. The Smithsonian put out a really fun game about digging a dugout house (last fall). It’s totally appropriate for Kansas and tied in nicely to our theme.”

The last session next week will cover items related to the Civil War. All previous Nearpod lessons are available at mahaffie.org/programs/mats.

For each of these online lessons, an in-person activity is available from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday. For spring planting, visitors helped plant corn in a field the way the Mahaffie family would have done.

“I think all kids learn best through hands-on experiences, through touching things, through doing things,” Lange said.

Admission for each student (accompanied by one adult) ages 5 to 17 is $5. There’s an additional $2 charge for adults who want to ride the stagecoach.

Even preschoolers got in on the fun. Each age group will take something different away from the experience, Lange said.

“We ask our guests to get a little bit dirty with us. A 12-year-old might be intent on keeping the row (of corn) straight. A 3-year-old might be distracted by an earthworm that they found. We think those are all important parts of the learning process.”

Olathe resident Rachel Vaughn brought her five kids to the spring planting activity and said she’s excited to bring them back in the summer to see how tall their corn has grown.

Several young volunteers were helping out at the same activity, including 11-year-old Olathe resident Emily Kozlowski.

“It’s a really nice life experience. Who can say they’ve planted a corn field, tilled a garden or used an 1860s cook stove when they live in the middle of Kansas City?” she said.

For the occupations week, kids helped dig the beginnings of a well. The staff also made character cards that kids could collect featuring real 1860s Olathe citizens.

To make the sheep shearing activity hands-on, visitors helped haul in water by hand and wash the wool from the farm’s three Merino sheep.

When Mahaffie offered this program in the fall, many visitors were students doing hybrid or virtual school. For the spring session, Lange said, more of them have been people who usually do home schooling.

“We’ve always done home-school programs, but these last couple weeks we’re meeting families we’ve never met before,” Lange said. “That’s really exciting.”

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