In 2012 and 2013, the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area received grants from the National Park Foundation, “America’s Best Idea” grant totaling $27,542. Our best idea was to connect youth to our tremendous history by providing them with the opportunity to visit Old Fort Niagara and commemorate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812. In 2012, approximately 500 fourth graders from Niagara Falls City School District visited Old Fort Niagara and participated in a dozen interactive learning stations. For 87% of these students, this was their first visit to Old Fort Niagara. Prior to the visit and through a partnership with partnership with WNED, educators received the PBS “War of 1812” Educator’s Kit.
In 2013, the NFNHA expanded the program to send both the fourth grade and seventh grade class of 2013/2014 to Old Fort Niagara. In the summer, seventh grade teachers created a curriculum for the historical fiction novel, The Gold Laced Coat. A class set of these books were purchased and students read about the French history of Old Fort Niagara through the eyes of young people. In October, costumed interpreters representing the characters in The Gold Laced Coat visited the classrooms where students were able to interact with them. The tremendous learning experience culminated with the seventh grade visiting Old Fort Niagara on French Heritage Day. Students, teachers, and chaperones were able to participate in a dozen interactive learning stations that exemplified fort life under the French.
Check out pictures of 4th and 7th graders visiting historical Old Fort Niagara, many for the first time!
The Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the United States (1885).