School Visits

Learn with Live Virtual Programming

We are currently offering live virtual programming for students. Teachers can email to learn more and schedule a session.

Visit with Outdoor Explore Kits

We are now offering educational Outdoor Explore Kits, designed to enhance student visits to the grounds of the Thomas Cole National Historic Site. Pick up a packet with all of the information and materials you need to enjoy an hour-long visit to the Thomas Cole site. Explore the scenic grounds and building exteriors of the artist’s home and learn about Thomas Cole’s influence on the cultural landscape with a custom kit of interpretive materials and activities.

Outdoor Explore Kits are free for schoolchildren and their families within the Greene and Columbia County public school systems. Please email anytime or call (518) 291-9525 Wednesday through Friday to arrange your free contact-less pick-up. Pick-ups are available every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:15 to 11:45 am. Reservations must be made in advance.

Outdoor Explore Kits for students include:

  • Explore at Your Own Pace Guide Book
  • Essay on American Scenery Book
  • Cole Site Sketchbook
  • Souvenir Cedar Pencil
  • View on the Catskill Postcard
  • Take Action Cards
  • Walking Directions to Catskill Creek
  • Mini Hand Sanitizer
  • The Changing Landscape Activity Book
  • Crayons
  • Outdoor Explore Welcome Card
  • Thomas Cole Site & Art Trail Brochures

How We lead Student Tours

Art-making and engaging in conversations about art helps to develop important skills (like collaboration, creativity and visual literacy) that can be used across all disciplines. 

In our work with students, we focus on Thomas Cole’s work as an artist, writer, and early environmentalist. We believe that concentrating on these three identities helps students understand that myriad worldviews, tools and identities are useful in understanding, communicating in, and creating change in the world.

We use Thomas Cole’s artwork as a jumping off point to have complex conversations about environmental science, technology, and ideas related to progress.

Honing our skills as artists, writers, and environmentalists allow us to become better thinkers, communicators, observers, collaborators, and makers of change. We believe that memorizing dates and names is less useful than understanding history and our world today through discussion and creation; for students, the experience of seeing, making, and talking about art will aid them for the rest of their lives, in and out of school.

Tour Options

Thomas Cole: Artist, Writer, and Early Environmentalist

Best for: All Classes, Grades K-12

How can we use many tools to express our ideas?

This tour is highly student-centered, incorporating group discussion, movement, inquiry, and optional hands-on activities with contextual information about Thomas Cole, the Industrial Revolution, and life in the early 1800s. In this tour, students learn about Thomas Cole’s work as an artist, writer, and early environmentalist as they tour through the historic house. Students will visit the house that Thomas Cole lived in and the studio where he painted for over seven years. Optional: Students can engage in hands-on art-making, writing, and environmental action activities.

Tour: 45 minutes

Tour with art activity: 90 minutes


Thomas Cole and the Creative Process:

Best for: Art and Art History Classes, K-12

How do we create art from our experiences in nature?

This tour focuses on how Thomas Cole created art, from closely observing and sketching nature, deciding on what to leave in and take out, to mixing his own paints and creating his compositions.  Students learn about the life of Thomas Cole, the Hudson River School of Art, and tour the historic house and painting studio. Optional: Students then create sketches based on their experiences and turn these sketches into original paintings.

Tour: 45 minutes

Tour with art activity: 90 minutes

Book a School Program

To learn about our in-classroom educational programming and to schedule an in-classroom visit with a Thomas Cole Site educator please visit the Teacher Resources section of our website.

Before Your Visit

Pre-Visit Materials 

Grades K – 4

We teamed up with beloved children’s book author and illustrator Hudson Talbott to present Thomas Cole’s illustrated story online for free. The story introduces young children to Thomas Cole, the 19th-century artist and founder of America’s first major art movement. The story follows Cole’s ups and downs as an economic migrant displaced by the Industrial Revolution in England who fell in love with the American wilderness and advocated for the preservation of this nation’s landscapes.

Read the story

Grades 5-12

Once you have booked your visit, please consider downloading our “Pre-Visit Packet” which orients students grades 5-12 to Thomas Cole, his home, and the ideas that mattered to him.”

Download the Packet

The Program Endowment that supports educational programs at the Thomas Cole National Historic Site has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this the programs do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Jennifer GreimSchool Visits