Starting Friday, May 10th, and continuing into the following Friday, over 500 fourth graders from six Central Bucks elementary schools came to visit our Aldie Mansion home! These interactive environmental and historical field trips were based on The Wind in the Willows of Bucks County books, which Heritage Conservancy co-produced and had gifted to each fourth grader at the schools. By partnering with the Michener Art Museum, North Penn Water Authority, and Bucks County Conservation District, we were able to give students a well-rounded and exciting learning experience that was a ton of fun for all involved!
The visits were set up so that the kids could rotate through learning stations that each had a distinct focus that related back to the book’s cross-curriculum elements. The purpose of these stations was to raise awareness about local architectural history, the Mercer family legacy and its impact within Bucks County, impressionist art, environmental advocacy, and the importance of protecting our waterways.
An art station taught students about impressionist art, which is the style that Bucks County’s Artist in Residence Alan Fetterman used while creating artwork for The Wind in the Willows of Bucks County. They also learned about “en plein air” (in the open air) painting. Afterward, they created their own impressionist piece of art inspired by the grounds at Aldie Mansion!
● At the science station, staff used an EnviroScape demonstration to show different features of a watershed and the effect that land pollution has on our water quality. The kids also learned about macroinvertebrates and how high numbers of these creatures signals a healthy waterway. Everything related back to the Delaware River, where Mole and Rat had their adventures in the book that the students read in class.
A history station was held in the Great Hall, where students were taught about William and Henry Mercer and the different architecture styles that inspired their homes of Aldie Mansion and Fonthill respectively. In the Mercer Dining Room, they learned about William’s concrete and plaster art pieces. (Photo at the top)
After a whirlwind few days of rotating enthusiastic students through stations inside and outside of the mansion, we were touched to receive this lovely thank-you note from a Titus Elementary staff member:
“We just wanted to thank you for allowing us the opportunity to participate in the Aldie Mansion trip today! The trip was so well organized from the moment the students got off of the bus until they boarded it again to return to Titus. We were so impressed by how structured the rotations were, and the presenters were all very engaging. Not only did the students enjoy themselves, but they learned quite a bit about how the reimagined ‘Wind in the Willows’ connects to Bucks County, along with our local ecosystems, conservation efforts, local artists, and historic architecture. It was really so well done! Thank you again for offering this to our fourth graders!”
Many parents and teachers who have lived in this area their entire lives were amazed that they hadn’t been to Aldie Mansion before. As always, we were thrilled to share the fascinating history of Bucks County to residents of all ages.