The museum offers a variety of educational programs for all ages throughout the year.

Ellwood Explorers

generously funded by the cy miller foundation

Ellwood Explorers is a series of family programs offered each summer between the months of May and August. All programs are free of charge and last approximately one hour. Programs will take place rain or shine. No registration is required. Please see below for the 2018 schedule.


Lunch at the Little House
Saturday, May 19, 11:00 A.M.

Spend the afternoon at everyone's favorite playhouse, the 1891 Little House. Learn about nineteenth century games, churn ice cream, and try out reproduction toys. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds of Ellwood Park. All ages welcome.

Summer Selections
Tuesday, June 5, 11:00 A.M.

Gather in the living room of the Ellwood-Nehring House to hear the reading of Goliath: Hero of the Great Baltimore Fire by Claudia Friddell. After the story, create related arts and crafts and enjoy a snack. Ages 2 and up with parent and/or guardian.

True Colors
Thursday, June 14, 11:00 A.M.

Both the Ellwood mansion and the Ellwood-Nehring House are decorated with ornate stained glass. Discover what stained glass is, how it's made, and create artwork inspired by the Ellwood mansion or your own imagination. All ages welcome.

I Was Here!
Saturday, June 30, 11:00 A.M.

For 139 years, the mansion has served as a "time capsule," helping us understand the personalities and pastimes of Ellwood family members. Learn about the sources we use to uncover information about the past, and create a time capsule for future historians! All ages welcome.

Friday, July 13, 11:00 A.M.

Presented with the NIU Center for P-20 Engagement

Explore the possibilities of block building in this fun event for children ages 8 months to 8 years. This hands-on program promotes early math and science skills. Perhaps we'll even find a budding architect!

Ellwood Summer Festival
Sunday, August 5, 12:00 P.M. - 4:00 P.M.

Bring the whole family for interactive musical performances, historic house tours, art activities presented by KVAL, and an outdoor carriage and transportation exhibit featuring hands-on activities. All ages welcome.

Brown Bag Lunch/Local Lore

2018 Lecture Series

presented in partnership with the dekalb county history center

partially funded by the mary e. stevens concert and lecture fund

Brown Bag Lunch/Local Lore is a series of lecture programs related to history, collections care, and historic preservation. Once a month, a knowledgeable speaker will present an hour-long program at a site in DeKalb County. All programs are free of charge and open to the public.

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School Tours


School field trips are free of charge.


We prefer to host field trips in the morning and can begin as early as 9:00 AM. School tours cannot be scheduled for 1:00 PM or 3:00 PM. School tours are available Tuesday through Friday. The museum is closed on Mondays.


We appreciate chaperones, but we ask that you limit parent chaperones to 2 adults per visit. This number does not include teachers and staff.

Food & Drink

Bagged lunches can be brought with you and eaten on the grounds. The Hearthside Room in the Visitor Center may be available as a backup in case of inclement weather. Please contact our office about using the meeting room.

Special Programming

We offer tours specifically designed for grades 2nd through 5th. Please see below for details.

History Detectives

Become a detective! Be assigned a lead investigator who will walk you through the Ellwood Mansion and guide you on your
fact-finding mission.

2nd & 3rd Grade Program

Students have the opportunity to examine historic photographs and artifacts within the mansion to discover what life was like for the Ellwood family and their staff in the early twentieth century.

program purpose

The program introduces students to Isaac Ellwood and the barbed wire industry in DeKalb, explaining why the mansion exists today and why Isaac Ellwood was important. Touring six rooms in the mansion, students will examine historic photographs and artifacts to seek out answers to historical questions.

Program Logistics

The program lasts 90 minutes. Please call our office at 815-756-4609 or email Audrey Hale at hale@ellwoodhouse.org for more information or to book this program.

Hard Work

Learn to properly set the dining room table, write a menu, change a diaper and more. You better learn your jobs quickly & efficiently, as there is no room for error when you are a servant.


Students see and feel what life was like for those individuals who worked for the Ellwood family around the turn of the twentieth century. While touring the mansion's work areas and staff living quarters, students will try hands-on some of the jobs done by staff members.

program PURPOSE

The program familiarizes students with differences in lifestyle between the Ellwood family and their working class staff. Students will gain an appreciation for the complexity and physicality of working at the Ellwood House. Students will also learn about the immigration experience and how education, language, and practical skills determine the types of jobs available to the Ellwood House staff.


The program lasts 90 minutes. Please call our office at 815-756-4609 or email Audrey Hale at hale@ellwoodhouse.org for more information or to book this program.