Historic Bethlehem Museums & Sites

In association with the Smithsonian Institution


Century at Burnside Plantation

Burnside Plantation in the summer

Discover what daily life was like on a colonial farm with our Century at Burnside Plantation school tour!

On this school tour students will investigate the farmhouse, operate the high horsepower wheel, construct a child-sized barn using early farm technology, write with a quill pen with walnut ink, and more!  Students are invited to pack their lunch to enjoy on site, picnic style, after their program concludes.

Burnside Plantation Barn

A Century at Burnside Plantation is a 2 ½ hour experience located at the 1748-1848 Burnside Plantation, our “farm-in-the-city”!

Designed for 10-80 students at one time, learning stations along the plantation enable students to investigate the farmhouse, operate the high horsepower wheel, construct a child-sized barn using early farm technology, write with a quill pen with walnut ink, and more!

HBMS Certified Museum Facilitators share information and involve students in hands-on activities that can be expanded with additional learning stations to provide a full day experience for your students.

Location: Burnside Plantation 1461 Schoenersville Road Bethlehem, PA

Length: 2.5 hours


Programs are aligned with the Pennsylvania Common Core Standards and integrated with STEM education.

A Little Boy using the garden wheel at the Burnside House Garden-

A. “Little Cot”: Learn about the lifestyles of the early inhabitants of the Burnside farm house through a tour of the house and its contents.

  • Activity: Using a copy of the official estate inventory of the farm house, determine what things belong in the Burnside house and what things don’t, create a three-dimensional map of the house, and discover the function of various household items.
  • Learning Outcomes: Understand the layout and use of certain rooms in the Burnside farm house, while gaining an understanding of the lifestyles of the periods being interpreted and the research used in restoring and furnishing an historic home.


B. “From Field, Garden, and Orchard to the Table”: Learn about early food and the importance of the farm, orchard and kitchen garden to the early American family.

  • Activity: Help with a kitchen chore, write a souvenir copy of a recipe, use mathematics to determine the quantity of food ingredients compared to the final quantity of food made, and calculate geometric area and perimeter of garden spaces.
  • Learning Outcomes: Through application of calculations and geometry, learn about early American kitchen products, as well as how garden, orchard, and farm were essential components in providing food for early settlers.


C. “Work and Play”: Learn about the school and play experiences of a typical colonial child and to compare and contrast this lifestyle with activities of contemporary children.

Develop increased familiarization in number sense, application of physics principles, and the fundamentals of probability and statistics through the experience of participating in 18th century traditional games.

  • Activity: Using authentic quill and ink, learn to read and write several German words, compare and contrast modern educational experiences with that of the Moravian students,and engage in period-appropriate colonial era games.
  • Learning Outcomes: Learn about the comparison between modern education and games, and Moravian students' education style, games, and their use of the German language.


D. “The Barn”: Understand how important the barn was to the life of the farm and to learn how a barn was constructed.

  • Activity: Tour, calculate perimeter and area, and learn about the unique construction of the barn, in addition to building the framework of a child-size barn.
  • Learning Outcomes: Understand different parts and the importance of a barn, how barns were beneficial to farmers, and explain the technical process of creating a barn..


E. “From Manpower to Horsepower”: Learn how the use of horse powered machinery made the farmer’s work easier and more productive in the early 1800s

  • Activity: Thresh grain by hand using a flail, and provide power to the threshing machine by turning the high horsepower wheel.
  • Learning Outcomes: Understand the process of manual farming labor and how horses and machines have changed the work of the farmer.


F. “The Ecology & Economy of the Farm”: Learn how early settlers provided for their needs through thoughtful use of their environment and through a resourceful, frugal lifestyle.

  • Activity: Match throw-away items in today’s society with items made from these “throw-aways” that were put to good use in colonial society.
  • Learning Outcomes: Gain understanding of the resourcefulness of their forefathers and mothers in their natural surroundings, as well as the need for this lifestyle due to the hardship of a self-sufficient frontier environment.


G. “Weaving the Fabric of Our Lives”: Learn the importance of wool now and in the early 1800s.

  • Activity: Touch raw wool, try carding and spinning wool and weaving on a hand-held loom.
  • Learning Outcomes: Understand the importance of sheep and livestock, and become aware that making fabric took time and used technology.



Other Post-Program activities include:

  1. "Words CAN Describe It"
  2. "Trading Places"
  3. "For Posterity"
  4. "A Barn is More Than a Building"
A group of students outside the barn at Burnside Plantation

In order to make your class’s field trip to Burnside Plantation the most pleasant and best possible learning experience, we ask that you review these guidelines:

  • Before arriving, please place students into even groups of approximately 10-12 students per group. Please assign one chaperone per group.
  • Please make students and chaperones aware that they will stay in their assigned groups and travel as a group from station to station while at Burnside.
  • The Burnside program does require students to be outdoors. They should dress appropriately for the weather and wear sturdy shoes for outdoor terrain.
  • Burnside buildings are not heated and tours are held rain or shine.
  • Lunch is a picnic event for an all-day field trip. Students must bring their own packed lunch and drink.
  • Students will picnic outside. If weather is inclement, students may eat in the barn.
  • Please emphasize good behavior with your students.
Burnside Plantation garden with students

If you have any other questions, call 1-800-360-TOUR, or contact our Museum Sites & Education Manager, Keith Sten.

Burnside Plantation with Garden

Bethlehem is in the heart of the Lehigh Valley, only 60 miles north of Philadelphia and 90 miles west of New York City. Burnside Plantation is located at 1461 Schoenersville Road in Bethlehem, PA.

From Route 22 West:

  • Take Rt. 378 South to the 8th Avenue exit.
  • Turn left onto 8th Avenue north, turn right onto Eaton Avenue.
  • The entrance to Burnside Plantation will be on the right before the railroad tracks.

From points south of Bethlehem:

  • Take Rt. 378 North to Bethlehem
  • Bear right onto the 8th Avenue North Exit.
  • Turn right onto 8th Avenue.
  • Turn right onto Eaton Avenue.
  • The entrance to Burnside Plantation will be on the right before the railroad tracks.

"Our experience here at Burnside Plantation was wonderful! I love how interactive the learning is and how everything is so well organized! Thank you!"

-Kellie Dulin, 5th grade teacher Zephyr Elementary


 "Excellent experience and applied to our Social Studies curriculum.”

-Allison Scanlon, 3rd grade teacher Hopewell Elementary


Burnside Plantation Site Rentals

Interior of Burnside

Burnside’s majestic scenery and rustic buildings make a beautiful backdrop for special events.

Situated along the Monocacy Creek, James Burnside's property includes the 18th and 19th-century farmhouse and summer kitchen, a large garden, and two barns. Host 250 guests at the Plantation, or 20-80 guests at the Barn or Wagon Shed. The possibilities are endless!


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