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Local grade-school students experience California history on tours of Los Altos museum

The Los Altos History Museum offers lessons in California history through its annual educational tours for third- and fourth-grade students based in Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Throughout April and May, the museum’s Education Committee docents lead interactive presentations, hands-on activities and play-acting, and conduct tours of the museum’s exhibits.

More than 900 students participate in the tours every spring.

“Local teachers rave about the tours, calling them ‘the best ever,’” said Anne Roberts, chairwoman of the Education Committee.

Each grade rotates through different stations on their trek through history.

Tours for third-graders, conducted last month, explored life on the Peninsula from the Ohlone Indian era to the Great Depression. Students used mortars and pestles to grind corn, dressed up as Mexican rancheros and spun the “Wheel of Fortune.” They also stepped back in time on a tour of the historical J. Gilbert Smith House and returned to the museum to hear stories of the late local artist Annie Knapp Fitz, trying their own hand at drawing “Annie” pictures.

Tours for fourth-graders are offered in May. Students will learn about old farm equipment and the harvesting of apricots and walnuts, re-enact a city council meeting at the Los Altos Council Chambers, tour the museum’s permanent exhibit on World War II and the incorporation of Los Altos and learn about the growth of Los Altos, capped by clips of Abbott and Costello.

The tours are open to students in public, private and home-schooled classes.

The program is sponsored by a grant from the Geschke Family Foundation.

To book a tour, teachers can call the museum at 948-9427, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit losaltoshistory.org.

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