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Educational Resources

Social Distance Learning

This page is intended to provide you with educational history, science and conservation content from the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium and Mathias Ham Historic Site. Links have also been provided to resources from other museums, zoos and aquariums.

What you'll find on this page!
  • River Museum Videos
  • Animal Collection Links
  • Historic Collections Links
  • The Ham Chronicles - New Blog Link
  • National Rivers Hall of Fame Links
  • External Museum, Zoo and Aquarium Links

The Dugout Canoe

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • If you didn't have access to modern tools, what natural objects could you find outside your home as a replacement? 
  • The dugout canoe was often used by Native Americans. Follow the link below to explore the different cultures by region of Native Americans.

National Geographic Kids: Native Americans

River Otter Training

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • North American River Otters are mammals that live in an aquatic habitat. Think about what makes an animal a mammal, then list other aquatic mammals that could live in your area.
  • Our two youngest North American River Otters came to the River Museum as orphans. Check out the moment our keepers introduced them to each other. 

Orphaned Otters Introduction


Better Together: BIOBLITZ

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • Try a BioBlitz in your backyard or any place in nature! This Illinois biodiversity activity guide can help get you started, even if you're in Iowa, Wisconsin, or any other part of the world.

Illinois Backyard BioBiltz

Bald Eagle Talk

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • A Bald Eagle is one apex predator along the Mississippi River, can you think of others? Look at an entire map of the Mississippi River and consider all the different animals and habitats that could live along its path.
  • You may have spotted a Bald Eagle nest from the ground, but you likely couldn't see inside. With the assistance of technology, we have the opportunity to observe the growth of Bald Eagles from a tree top perspective. You can too thanks to the Raptor Resource Project's Decorah Eagle Cam!

WATCH: Decorah Eagle Cam

William M. Black: Engine Room Communication

Check out some footage of the William M. Black, while it was in operation in 1952!

William M. Black Video from 1952

Turtle Talk


Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • Keep an eye out for turtles in the wild. When you see one, can you guess where they spend most their time based on their shell? 
  • There's so much more to learn about turtle! Read these 10 awesome facts and then chat about what you think is most interesting.

10 awesome Turtle Facts

Victorian Easter Egg Dyeing

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • Can you do as the Victorians did? Can you find other items in your home that would work as dye for eggs? 
  • Wearing an Easter bonnet to a Sunday service is another tradition that spans many years. Our site coordinator at the Mathias Ham Historic Site shared her thoughts on the Easter bonnet and its importance to this celebration.

The Kenyan Sand Boa

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • The Kenyan Sand Boa's head is nearly identical to its tail. After watching the video, discuss why this is and how you think predators would react to seeing a Kenyan Sand Boa in the wild. 
  • What can use around your home to camouflage into your environment? 

Delta Broadcast Feeding and Enrichment

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • Similar to you, Stingrays have their favorite enrichment items. What are some of your favorite foods, toys, or games? How do they make your life or environment better?
  • Stingrays' mouths are on the underside of their body! Can you think of other animals like this? Click the button below to watch watch stingrays eat from another angle! 

How Stingrays Eat

Making Traditional Victorian Cornbread

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • Why do you think Victorians and early settlers would have chose cornbread as a go-to dish?
  • Do you think the Victorian lifestyle in America was influenced by other countries? Check out Victorian recipes from the United Kingdom and see if you find any commonalities. 

 United Kingdom Victorian Recipes 

Discovering an Owl's Dinner

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • Animals are all around us, even in the city. What are some clues in outside your home that could indicate an animal lives near? If you spot some clues, what animal do you think it may be? 
  • The more we observe an animal, the more we learn about it and its behavior. Take some time and check out the Barred Owl live cam provided by the folks at Cornell Lab. What are some behaviors you notice about this owl?

Barred Owl Live Cam

William M. Black: The Dustpan

Check out some footage of the William M. Black, while it was in operation in 1952!

William M. Black Video from 1952

The Snake-necked Turtle

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • The snake-necked turtle is a carnivore. What other animals are carnivores?
  • Do you know of any other long-necked creatures? The snake-necked turtle uses its neck to stay buried in the sand from predators, why do you think these other animals have long necks?

Beavers and their Mississippi River Impact

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • What are some items around your home that could be used to build a dam-like structure? 
  • Can you think of other animals with adaptations that allow them to perform strong feats? 

Yellow Stingray Training

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • What are some different rewards you may get for completing a task or chore around your home?
  • As you grow older, how might those tasks and rewards change or evolve? 

Feeding the Gill Rakers

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • These creatures are cartilaginous, which means their structure is formed from hard tissue instead of bones. What parts of the human body are made up of cartilage? 
  • The Paddlefish uses its paddle to sense objects, animals, and food around its body. How do we as humans use our senses to discover what's around us?

Ice Harvesting

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • How would life be different without your refrigerator or freezer? 

  • How long do you think a block of ice would last in an ice box? Do a Web search and find out!

Corn Snake Enrichment

Ideas to continue the conversation:

  • Corn snakes are native to what area of the Mississippi River watershed? Do a Web search and find out!
  • Learn about other animals at the River Museum here.

Take a tour!


Live Webcams!


Learn more about our animals.

Read up on many of our animals

Learn about our historical collections.

Featured Items from our Collections

Discover the lives once lived at the Mathias Ham Historic Site.

Mathias Ham Historic Site Blog

Learn about the women and men of America's Rivers!

National Rivers Hall of Fame  PODCASTS

Take virtual field trips to locations all over the world!


External links to check out!

At Home Resources for Familes

National Oceanic & Atmostpheric Administration
Iowa PBS Activities and Resources

Michigan Architectural Foundation Resources for Kids

Museums with Virtual Tours, Exhibits and Online Collections

The Art Institute of Chicago
British Museum
Guggenheim Museum
Louvre Museum  
National Gallery of Art
National Museum of Natural History 

Musée d’Orsay
Van Gogh Museum

Zoos & Aquariums (Fellow AZA facilities!)

Georgia Aquarium
Monterey Bay Aquarium
San Diego Zoo

National Parks

Yellowstone National Park
Yosemite National Park

Historic Places

The Great Wall of China
Sistine Chapel