Our staff can visit your classroom to talk with your students about history, science, or an upcoming field trip. It's a wonderful way to start your Chicago River unit.
1. K-2nd grade
5. High School
In Person Presentations
A Friends staff person, intern or volunteer will come to your school to share the history of the Chicago River with your students and answer their questions. Programs are between 30 to 120 minutes long, and can be tailored to your class length. We can also assist you as you teach a classroom lesson (perhaps as a precursor to taking a field trip to the river), talk about macroivetebrate collection, discuss water chemistry, judge a science fair, or participate at a school festival.
To schedule a classroom visit please contact our education staff. We also do presentations for non-school groups; e.g. universities, churches, scouts, historical societies, museums, and environmental organizations.
Online Distance Learning
If you would like our staff to give a virtual presentation to your class or group, we have opportunities for online distance learning. Classrooms can also opt for live discussions and Q&A with Friends’ staff. To schedule a virtual classroom presentation please contact our education staff.
History of the Chicago River (K-2)
Students take an imaginary journey in a time machine, travelling to important places and times during the Chicago River’s history. The animated presentation allows them to “visit” with people who lived long ago as they journey through time. View sample slides depicting a visit with a Native American, Mr. Christopher Field (of Marshall Fields), and a girl canoeing today.
History of the Chicago River (3-4)
Students create a map of ecological and cultural change along the Chicago River using images depicting life through the past few centuries. By working together, students develop an understanding of how this area developed and changed from the 17th century to today. View sample slides depicting how the landscape and land usage has changed in the Chicago River watershed over the past 500 years.
History of the Chicago River (5-6)
Students track and discuss the many changes in the Chicago River watershed over the past several hundred years. Students follow the population growth of the city of Chicago and its effect on the river. Students gain an understanding of how natural areas were replaced by farms, and how farms disappeared to make way for our modern urban expansion. The quality of the Chicago River also ties into the story. View sample slides depicting some of the changes to the Chicago River from the 17th century to present day.
History of the Chicago River (7-8)
Students uncover what natural resources and amenities helped fuel the birth and rapid expansion of the greater Chicago area. By filling in their own timelines, students track this amazing development and its impact on the Chicago River. View sample slides depicting the history of the Chicago River from the 17th century to present day, including a focus on non-point source pollution and stewardship.
History of the Chicago River (9-12)
Historic photos, maps and diagrams illustrate the fascinating and disturbing history of the Chicago River. From the post-glacial world, through European exploration and exploitation, to the modern city with a troubled (albeit cleaner) river, we examine the history of the city of Chicago and its ties to the river that bears its name. A discussion of current problems facing the Chicago River and how students can become involved is included. View sample slides depicting the history of the Chicago River from the 18th century to present day, from exploration to exploitation, including the definition of a Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO).
“You taught us tons of things and helped us with our understanding of the Chicago River. Your presentation actually inspired me to try to be more active with our ecosystem, specifically my neighborhood.”