Our kits are getting updated!

Loan kits are designed to create active learning opportunities for students, specifically in the realm of local history. They include informational packets, activity guidelines, and relevant artifacts from the Museum’s Education Collection. Each kit is geared towards a specific age group, listed below in the kit descriptions.

Since 2022, we’ve been updating our loan kits to more closely follow current history education practices. These kits will especially focus on students’ critical thinking and analysis through an inquiry packet and source materials. Updated kits will have fewer large artifacts to make them easier to transport, though more can be included upon request. If a kit has been updated, it will be noted below in the kit descriptions.

We also want our resources to be more accessible, so we’ve decided to offer online versions of the updated kits. These online kits will include the same inquiry packets and source materials as the physical kits, but will not offer access to artifacts. Because this is an ongoing process, not all kits will be available online at all times.

Contact Director of Youth & Family Education Emily McCusker for more information.

How to Use a Loan Kit:

  1. Request a physical loan kit. You are responsible for picking up and dropping off loan kits at the McLean County Museum of History. Kits can be reserved for two weeks, though more time can be requested if multiple educators from the same institution plan on using the resources.

  2. Request an online loan kit. When your request is received, you will get a link to a google folder that contains the inquiry packet and source materials of the kit you have chosen.

Please make reservations at least (2) weeks in advance. Keep in mind that we only have one or two of each kit. The earlier you make your request, the less likely it is that the kits will already be checked out.

This program is made possible through the Estate of Laura Sullivan.

Architecture of Downtown Bloomington

  • 3rd to 6th Grade

Using Downtown Bloomington as a case study, students will become familiar with various facets of urban architecture, including: how cities are built, who the architects were who designed the many buildings in Downtown Bloomington, and how to identify a range of architectural design elements. Other themes include: commerce, preservation, and renewal.

Finding McLean County: Early Settler Life

  • Pre-K to 2nd Grade

Students will discover what life was like when the first white settlers came to McLean County almost 200 years ago by engaging with period artifacts that were used in the everyday lives of these settlers. Artifacts include clothing, kitchen tools, toys, and more. By investigating what life was like in Illinois in the the mid-1800s, students will have a better understanding of the economic, social, and technological changes that have occurred over time.


 Activities and use of objects can be adapted for any age.

Example Program:

Moving to a new home can be tough, even today. Students will learn about what it took to traverse unfamiliar territory in a covered wagon loaded down with supplies by "loading" their own imaginary wagon. Students will engage in an exercise of historical empathy by considering how their own needs and wants compare to those of early settlers. 

Journey Through the Great Depression

  • 6th to 12th Grade

The Great Depression was the longest, and most far-reaching, period of economic turmoil of the 20th Century. Through the objects and activities included in this kit, students will investigate how the Great Depression not only affected the nation, but more specifically the residents of McLean County. Topics include New Deal programs, rural life, entertainment, and more.

Example Program:
Students will learn about buying and bartering by "Shopping during the Great Depression" to see how far they can stretch their limited dollars.


  • Grades: Activities and use of objects can be adapted for any age.

  • Learning Goals: This program satisfies various Illinois Social Science standards by encouraging students to consider and determine answers to essential questions, to verbally communicate their inquiries and conclusions, and to address the ideas of change, continuity, and context.

McLean County During World War II

  • 6th to 12th Grade

Through a variety of resources and inquiries, students will learn about the diverse experiences of McLean County residents during World War II. Specifically, they will learn how life changed for women, children, African Americans, and Asian Americans during WWII, as well as exploring topics like the draft and antiwar protest. Artifacts include, but are not limited to, ration books, military food rations, a photo album, and some children's toys.

This kit has been updated and is available online.

The Unconquerable: Kickapoo in McLean County

  • Pre-K to 2nd Grade

Students will be introduce to the traditions and lifeways of groups native to McLean County, including the Kickapoo—the last Native Tribe to reside in McLean County. Artifacts in the kit include: stone tools, clothing, language resources, games, and more.

Example Program:
Students will explore the foodways of Native groups through exploration of animal furs, shell tempered pottery, early agriculture, and more.