School Programs

Distance Learning Programs
Since the Covid – 19 pandemic began Raynham Hall Museum has presented more than 100 virtual programs, reaching over 3,000 Long Island students. We have presented these live virtual programs to students in 2nd Grade, 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 7th Grade and 11th Grade in Oyster Bay, Glen Head, Port Washington, Glen Cove, Commack, Garden City, Massapequa Park, East Norwich, Syosset, Locust Valley, Baldwin, Jericho, Great Neck, Franklin Square, Bay Shore, Southampton, Huntington Station and Dix Hills.

Each program is $4 per student, with no more than 2 classes per virtual program.

Scholarships are available to Title 1 recipients, and offered on a first come, first served basis, so please contact us as soon as possible if your school qualifies for financial assistance. Email Claire Bellerjeau at cbellerjeau@raynhamhallmuseum.org to schedule a program or for more information.

“The Townsends in the Revolution” Virtual Program
4th Grade, 1 hour
Raynham Hall Museum is a historic house museum in Oyster Bay that interprets the life and times of the Townsend family during the Revolutionary War. During this one-hour program participants can see our Colonial rooms and learn about how Samuel Townsend, who was a shipping merchant, helped plan the Revolution. Oyster Bay was occupied by several British regiments over the course of the war, notably Col. John Graves Simcoe, commander of a regiment of over 350 soldiers called the Queen’s Rangers. The British spy John André also stayed here in 1779, a year before he was captured and executed for his part in the Benedict Arnold treason plot.

Like other Long Islanders, the Townsends enslaved many African-Americans, who witnessed the war from a different perspective, as they faced an enemy occupation that forced them to serve not only those who enslaved them, but also the many British officers who stayed in the house. On this virtual program participants learn the newly-discovered true story of Liss, an enslaved teenage girl who escaped with the British in hopes of becoming free.

Meanwhile, working as a merchant in British-controlled Manhattan, the Townsends’ son Robert joined a daring group of covert agents – the Culper Spy Ring. Communicating with Washington through letters written in secret code and invisible ink, Robert risked his life to provide critical information.

From a teacher, about “The Townsends in the Revolution”:
“I just want to say thank you again for a wonderful morning! The virtual field trip was fantastic. I enjoyed the great pictures and your lively storytelling! I personally learned so much and I know my students did as well. Our vice principal popped in our meeting and ended up staying the whole time. He told me he just loved it.”

“Spy Craft” Virtual Program
4th – 7th Grade, 1 hour
Explore the history of real spies who operated on Long Island during the Revolutionary War and learn their secret spy techniques. In this one-hour program, participants learn historic spy craft, including codes, ciphers and invisible ink, with five PDF activity sheets provided so learning and fun can continue long after the program. Led by Raynham Hall historian Claire Bellerjeau, students also hear the true stories of both British and American spies in the times of the Revolution, from Nathan Hale, Robert Townsend and the Culper Spy Ring to Major John André and Benedict Arnold.

“Standing Where They Stood: Learning About Slavery in Oyster Bay” Virtual Program
5th Grade and Above, 1 hour
Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay is famous as the home of Robert Townsend – Washington’s spy – but this virtual program brings to light a new – and much misunderstood history, focused not on the family, but on the 19 African-Americans who were enslaved by the Townsends, and the extent of slavery throughout New York and Long Island in the days before and after the Revolution. It is a history so critical to understand, and yet slavery in New York remains virtually unknown to the vast majority of New Yorkers.

This one hour program reveals true stories of scores of individuals who lived in slavery on Long Island, including the first slave freed on Long Island in 1685, the first published Black author in America, born in 1711, an enslaved woman who escaped with the British in 1779, and a regiment of African-Americans who fought alongside British Col. Simcoe’s Queen’s Rangers in 1780. Participants are invited to connect with a particular enslaved individual, examine historical documents, read runaway slave ads and notices of slaves for sale, and learn about how laws in New York to end slavery impacted the lives of these forgotten Long Islanders.

From a 7th grade student, about “Standing Where They Stood”:
“I was a part of your virtual field trip. Your presentation was amazing. I didn’t know much about the topic but now I know a lot about it. It had so much good information about slavery on Long Island. It is very interesting and I really enjoyed it. Again, thank you so much for doing this.”

“Samuel Townsend: Colonial Merchant” Virtual Program
2nd Grade, 40 minutes
Raynham Hall Museum is a historic house museum in Oyster Bay that interprets the life and times of the Townsend family during the Colonial period. This 40 minute program, developed especially for 2nd Graders, features our Colonial rooms and explains how Samuel Townsend prospered as a merchant during the mid-1700s. Students are engaged through frequent Q & A and special “show and tell” moments explaining Colonial-era objects. Topics of community life, agriculture, trans-Atlantic shipping and commerce come alive through this special virtual program of the Townsend family of Oyster Bay.

The following in-person programs are suspended until further notice.

In-Person Programs

Our school programs allow students to experience the past in a historic house setting that complements the students’ classroom learning by encouraging curiosity and critical thinking. Our tours, conducted by trained museum interpreters, align with the New York State Education Teaching Standards.

The Townsends in the Revolution
Grades 4-5
2 hours

Costumed, experienced docents lead students through the historic house and gardens. They learn the exciting role the Townsend family played during the American Revolution, especially that of Robert Townsend, a spy for General Washington known as “Culper Jr.” Consider family life, gender roles, childhood, transportation, and leisure activities as they existed in Colonial America. Students are given the opportunity to explore the museum inside and out and ask questions. Learn the Culper Code, the system used by the Spy Ring in invisible ink! Become a spy for George Washington by learning the techniques of spy craft, reporting on troop and vessel movements in Long Island Sound! Students examine hands-on colonial and reproduction artifacts and learn how they worked in every day life.

$8 per student, teachers and four chaperones are free. Because of the generosity of our supporters, we are able to offer discounted or free trips to schools who would not otherwise be able to visit, typically those that qualify as Title I recipients, or whose policies disallow asking families to pay for field trip fees. These scholarship opportunities are limited, and offered on a first come, first served basis, so please contact us as soon as possible to see if your school qualifies for financial assistance.

Standing Where They Stood: Learning About Slavery in Oyster Bay
Grades 5-12 or Adult Groups

Time: 2 hours

Educating teachers and their students about the extent of slavery on Long Island and the New York area is so important, and the unique history recently uncovered at Raynham Hall Museum offers an innovative and engaging backdrop to learn about this little-understood topic.

In this interactive two-hour program, called “Standing Where They Stood: Learning About Slavery in Oyster Bay”, participants are each given a unique “identity card” with details of a real individual who was enslaved, helping them to connect with a specific person. Statistics as to the extent of slavery in New York reveals hard data to accompany the stories of individuals and their personal experiences.

Highlights include the stories of Tom Gall, the first slave legally freed on Long Island; Jupiter Hammon, the first published black author in America; an enslaved woman named Liss who escaped with the British, new information about Robert Townsend (Washington’s spy during the Revolution) and his involvement in an early abolitionist society, as well as British Colonel John Simcoe’s moral opposition to slavery, and his connection to a group of African-Americans called “The Black Brigade”, led by an escaped slave named Colonel Tye.

Participants learn about laws in New York to end slavery called “gradual abolition”, and examine historical runaway slave ads and notices of slaves offered for sale in New York newspapers. The program concludes with an interactive display which identifies Oyster Bay people who were enslaved, with footprints beside each name. As participants explore and find their “identity card” name, they stand in their footprints, share facts about their individual’s story, and are encouraged to write a reflection about their experience.

$8 per student, teachers and four chaperones are free. Because of the generosity of our supporters, we are able to offer discounted or free trips to schools who would not otherwise be able to visit, typically those that qualify as Title I recipients, or whose policies disallow asking families to pay for field trip fees. These scholarship opportunities are limited, and offered on a first come, first served basis, so please contact us as soon as possible to see if your school qualifies for financial assistance.