Ash Lawn-Highland offers a variety of educational workshops for all ages. These include crafts and experiential projects ranging from Candlemaking to Open Hearth Cooking, and interactive lesson style (SOL-linked) workshops based on focused topics in U.S. history. Our offerings give students an insight into the workings of the Highland plantation in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and help students explore dimensions of Monroe’s world. Ash Lawn-Highland also welcomes Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts for specially designed Scout workshops. All of our workshops include a Monroe House Tour. Some workshops will be limited in size and are not suitable for large school groups.

Photo by L Lusk

Photo by L Lusk


Finding Your Way (Compasses/Map Skills – Grades K-4) Finding Your Way introduces students to the use of maps and compasses as useful tools. Students will be taught to use these tools to locate various sites on Monroe’s estate, Highland.

Let’s Make A Deal (Barter & Trade – Grades 2-5) This interactive workshop introduces students to a barter and trade economy, a system that President Monroe employed throughout his lifetime. Students experience the pros and cons of this system and gain an understanding for the reasoning behind printed money.

When Civilizations Collide (Treaty making with President James Monroe for Grades 4-8) Students will be guided through the treaty-making process from the perspective of both the American Settlers and the Native Americans. Student interaction is a part of this detailed examination of both cultures, including language, food production, religion, government, and land ownership. As they role-play the Settlers and the Native Americans, students will learn and practice the art of negotiation.

The Middle Passage (Grades 4-8) In the Middle Passage, students examine multiple parts of the Atlantic slave trade. The workshop will focus on why Africa became the primary source of slaves, conditions aboard slave ships, and African resistance. It will also introduce the class to individual enslaved persons owned by the Monroes and where they found a home in the Monroe household at Highland. This workshop is interactive and encourages students to put themselves in the shoes of those involved, both slave master or slave.

Crafts and Historic Skills:

Lighten Up (Candle Dipping for K to Adult) – No need to raid the bee hives. Make your own hand-dipped beeswax candles like those used at Highland. At the end of the workshop they’re yours to take home!

Fun & Games 1800s Style (All Ages) – Play the games Monroe daughters, Maria Hester and Eliza, enjoyed here at Highland, including graces, hoops, quoits, and Nine Man Morris.

One If By Land (Lantern Making for K to age 8) – Create your own hand-punched lantern using techniques from Monroe’s youth. At the end of the workshop, take home the lantern and do some signaling of your own!

Curliques & Filigrees (Paper quilling for age 6 to Adult) – Create your own work of art. Use a nineteenth-century art form, paper quilling, to transform tiny strips of paper into fascinating and unusual designs. We provide the paper and you make the “cues” for cards and jewelry!

Decorations & Doodads (Ornament Making for K to Adult) – Using a variety of materials, you’ll make ornaments inspired by Monroe’s “cabin castle”—Highland. Select from age appropriate options. Come pinch, punch, and roll with us!

Spiders, Cranes, and Bales (Open Hearth Cooking for Grade 4 to Adult, weather permitting) – See open hearth cooking as it was done in James Monroe’s kitchen. Observe as our open-hearth cooks delve into authentic nineteenth-century cooking traditions including receipts (or recipes) for both foods and medicines.