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Field Trips
A photo of a boy wearing a smock and holding two adobe bricks that he just made from traditional materials.
During the school year, elementary, middle, and high school groups from throughout the Bay Area participate in field trip programs. The park provides an active and authentic learning environment where students are challenged to investigate the past and give voice to untold stories.
Please note: Due to the rehabilitation of the Presidio Officers’ Club, the Archaeology Lab’s education programs are currently taking place at the Archaeology Classroom (Building 40) in the Main Post. There is no fee to participate in Excavate History, Thingamajigs & Whatchamacallits, Living Poetry, and KIDS on Trails.
To participate in a field trip program, contact the Presidio Trust at
Thingamajigs and Whatchamacalits (Grades 2-3)
Thingamajigs & Whatchamacalits introduces young students to the field of archaeology and provides them with an opportunity to explore the Presidio’s past cultures by comparing and contrasting artifacts. Utilizing their observation skills, students examine historic images to learn about daily life during the Ohlone, Spanish, and early Americans eras at the Presidio. Students then excavate wheelbarrows filled with replica artifacts and in small groups they classify their assemblage according to color, size, material, and function. After collectively charting their data as a class, students reflect on the similarities and differences between people’s daily lives throughout time and understand that although cultures use different artifacts for shelter, clothing, food, work, play, and transportation all humans share these similar needs.
Excavate History (Grade 4)
Excavate History focuses on the Spanish colonial era and teaches students how archaeology can help us discover more about the people who once lived at El Presidio de San Francisco. Through a series of four hands-on activities, students investigate how the arrival of the Spanish colonists changed both the natural and cultural landscape of San Francisco. In small groups, students rotate through four activities:
Mapping El Presidio - Students navigate through a life-sized map of El Presidio, locate three archaeological sites, and analyze an assemblage of replica artifacts.
Cataloging an Artifact - Students analyze a real ceramic artifact from the Lab’s collections and interpret its past function.
Hiking the Ecology Trail - Students uncover what the landscape of the Presidio once looked like and imagine living here at the time of colonization.
Making Adobe Bricks - Students learn how to make adobe bricks and compare them to the adobe wall in the Mesa Room.
Garbology 101 (Grades 4-6)       

Garbology 101 focuses on the centuries old problem “what should society do with its garbage?” As students participate in hands-on activities in the Presidio Archaeology Lab, they learn how archaeologists uncover the past by studying artifacts from the Crissy Field landfill. At the Crissy Field Center, students explore decomposition in miniature landfills, consider the impact of their own garbage on the environment, and discuss alternatives for reducing waste. Their experience culminates when students use recycled materials to create journals where they can reflect on their park visit. Garbology 101 is a joint program of the Presidio Trust, the National Park Service, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy. Registration details can be found on the Crissy Field Center website.


Living Poetry (Grades 8-12)

How do the deaths of young American soldiers impact our perception of war? Living Poetry focuses on the casualties of conflict through the poem “The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak” by Archibald MacLeish. Students will experience the poetic voices in the poem and explore the impacts of war. This program includes a walk and site visit to San Francisco National Cemetery in the Presidio. Students work collaboratively while making connections to the young soldiers who sacrificed their lives.


KIDS on Trails (Grades K-4)

A photo of a boy wearing a cap holding the Kids on Trails Guide.KIDS on Trails is a self-guided program for children ages 5-10 years (grades K-4) and accompanying adults to encourage learning and recreation outdoors in the park.
There are two KIDS on Trails guides. The Ecology Trail booklet inspires an appreciation for the park's natural wonders and help kids connect to the environment. The Anza Trail booklet takes kids back in time and focuses on the natural and cultural history of Mountain Lake. Each offers kid-friendly activities, site-based experiences, tips for adults, and a trail map.
School Field Trips: To plan a class field trip using the KIDS on Trails program, contact the Presidio Trust and schedule a visit. Please specify Ecology or Anza Trail, and the Trust will make the correct books available for your class. An adult/child ration of 1/5 is recommended. Teachers are encouraged to visit the site prior to the field trip. Please inquire about current trail conditions to avoid temporary closures. Presidio staff is available on a limited basis to provide a brief welcome and orientation for your group. School contact: Presidio Trust at
Grades: K-4
Cost: Free
Time: Approximately 1 hour (one way)
California State Content Standards History/Social Science: K.4, K.6, 1.2, 1.4, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 4.1, 4.2
California State Content Standards Science: Life Sciences K-5; Investigation + Experimentation K-2
Kids on Trails - Ecology Trail
Kids on Trails - Mountain Lake / Anza Trail
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