The educational mission of the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) is to interpret, present and encourage enjoyment of the historical and cultural resources of SBTHP to the broadest possible audience.
|Life Honorary Director Michael Hardwick teaches students calligraphy at Early California Days.
At SBTHP we believe that history can promote understanding. It shows us where we are by reminding us where we have been. Our goal is to instill a deeper connection between our visitors and our heritage, providing an opportunity for individuals to embrace Santa Barbara County's history, not forget it.
Living history events have the unique opportunity to interpret and present history in a way that makes it interesting and relevant to our lives today. We believe that one of the most rewarding methods of learning is by experience and hands-on interaction with materials.
SBTHP's education department offers programs that focus on "learning by doing." Smiles abound as children and adults make adobe bricks, create ceramic bowls, write with a quill pen, or watch a soldado fire a thundering cannon. Along with the pleasures that come from participating in these activities there develops a deeper understanding of what life was like for Spanish and Mexican settlers in Early California.
To contact the Education Department, email Karen Anderson, Director of Education, or call
Grade-Specific Tours and Classroom Visits
|Young guests learn how to make adobe bricks at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara SHP.
Teachers may schedule docent led tours of El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park and Casa de la Guerra throughout the year at no charge. Trained docent interpreters cater to the group’s grade level (keeping in mind the History/Social Science Framework for California Public Schools) and adapt to the teachers’ preferred emphasis.
2nd Grade Presidio Tour (Pre-Visit Materials)
An engaging tour of the Presidio presents the story of Santa Barbara’s founding and life in Early California, helping children develop a sense of history. Comparisons are drawn with children’s lives today and those who lived in the Presidio community over two decades ago.
3rd Grade Presidio Tour (Pre-Visit Materials)
In this tour, students will learn about Santa Barbara's roots. Children learn where colonists originated, why they built the fort and how these people lived their daily life in comparison to today. Students can relate the Santa Barbara they know with the beginnings of our city at the Presidio.
|Students make hot chocolate with docent Kathy Chalfant at a living history day.
4th Grade Presidio Tour (Pre-Visit Materials)
Students learn about the Spanish colonization of New Spain, concentrating on the motives that brought Spanish soldiers and missionaries to Alta California. Their visit to Santa Barbara’s reconstructed Presidio, with discussions about its general characteristics, including why it was built, daily life, and how it operated, will help bring to life this period in history.
5th and 6th Grade Presidio Tour (Pre-Visit Materials)
Students learn the basic background of Santa Barbara's Presidio so they can compare colonization on the east coast to colonization on the west coast. This includes physical and cultural differences. Class groups are also exposed to archaeology and its importance as a living science.
Casa de la Guerra Tour
Students visit an early California colonial home and learn about early Spanish and Mexican Santa Barbara and the “Rancho Era.” The tour concentrates on the history of this particular structure, once the economic, political and social center of the pueblo of Santa Barbara and home of the influential De La Guerra family. Children learn about daily life in early Santa Barbara, from work, to food, architecture, games and fiestas.
Plan your Visit and Tour
Tour Details: Approximate Tour Duration: 1 hour. Introductory Video (optional): 15 minutes. (A copy of this DVD may be borrowed from the Santa Barbara County Schools AV Department or SBTHP's Education Department. For more information, or to schedule a tour, email Meredith Brockriede or call (805) 965-0093 between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m.
Student Programming and Resources
Traveling trucks are available for school teachers to borrow free of charge. Each trunk includes lesson plans, as well as many interactive objects for students to handle. For more information, or to reserve a traveling trunk, email Meredith Brockriede or call (805) 965-0093.
Soldado de Cuera Traveling Trunk
This interpretive trunk teaches elementary school students about Los Soldados de Cuera that occupied and protected the presidios and missions through drawings, maps and recreations of items the soldados used in their everyday lives. These items show that the soldados had a myriad of duties, including masonry and blacksmithing. Teachers can borrow the trunk or have it presented by a SBTHP docent. This is the perfect precursor to a classroom tour of the Presidio, as it gives the students a bit of background about the site and insight into the Presidio's daily life. Pair the trunk with the free introductory DVD to give your students the opportunity to take full advantage of their time at the Presidio.
Early California Foods Traveling Trunk
This traveling interpretive trunk introduces elementary school students to different types of food that was prepared and eaten at the Santa Barbara Presidio by Spanish soldiers and their families. With the contents of this trunk, students will learn which foods were shipped to the Spanish settlers at the Presidio and which foods were grown on Presidio grounds. They will understand what types of dishes were made in 18th century California, and how those dishes lasted centuries and are still vibrant and present in today's California/Mexican cuisine.
Anza Traveling Trunk
This traveling interpretive trunk introduces elementary school students to the 1775-1776 colonizing expedition led by Juan Bautista de Anza. This expedition brought the first immigrant families from New Spain to populate Alta California, establishing a colony in the San Francisco Bay area. Students learn about the people, landscape, and style of life on the Anza trail through objects grouped into themed sacks. Themes include “The Spanish Frontier,” “The Anza Expedition,” and “Along the Santa Barbara Channel.”
|Moises Solis demonstrates early California blacksmithing techniques.
Early California Days
3rd grade classes are eligible to participate in these two days of living history, held in honor of the founding of the Presidio (April 21, 1782). Students enjoy numerous demonstrations and hands-on activities including spinning, ceramics, adobe brick making, gardening and archaeology. To participate in Early California Days, third grade teachers must submit lottery forms mailed out every January. If you are a local third grade teacher who has not received an entry form by February 1, please contact the Education Department at (805) 962-9504.
College Events and Presentations
SBTHP presents a variety of topics closely linked to course material throughout the year. Colleges and universities are invited and encouraged to capitalize on our offerings—exhibitions, lectures, performances, films, publications and resources at the new Presidio Research Center.
Docent-led tours for ten or more may be scheduled in advance. These tours focus on one or both of the following sites: El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park - Open daily, 10:30 AM to 4:30 PM and Casa de la Guerra - Open Saturday and Sunday, Noon to 4:00 PM. For more information, or to schedule a tour, email Meredith Brockriede or call (805) 965-0093.
Founding Day and Presidio Pastimes
|Los Soldados del Reál Presidio de Santa Bárbara re-enactment group.
These free educational events, geared toward families, offer a variety of engaging activities that shed light on the history of early California. Living history demonstrations, hands-on activities, storytelling, and dance performances are a part of these special occasions. These educational events revolve around specific themes and take place on selected weekend afternoons. Activities include:
- Los Soldados de Cuera (Presidio Soldiers)
- Blacksmith and Forge
- Adobe Brick Making
- Fiber Arts
- Chumash Storytelling
Check the calendar for upcoming events!
|El Coro del Real Presidio de Santa Bárbara performing at Una Noche de las Posadas.
“Una Noche de Las Posadas” is a traditional reenactment of Joseph and Mary’s search for lodging in Bethlehem. The procession begins at the Presidio chapel and winds over to State Street, through Paseo Nuevo and De la Guerra Plaza, and continues to Casa de la Guerra with the singing of Spanish songs. After the event, tamales, traditional desserts and hot chocolate are served.
Día de los Muertos Craft Day
SBTHP presents this annual free family craft event in the courtyard of Casa de la Guerra to celebrate the Mexican holiday "Day of the Dead." This program celebrates the history and culture of Santa Barbara's Latino families, bringing together parents and children to create holiday artwork. The participants make decorations such as tissue paper flowers, tin art, sugar skulls and block prints. Traditional Mexican refreshments—pan de muerto and Mexican hot chocolate—are served.
The Education Department strives to present various lectures every year on a variety of topics pertaining to Santa Barbara County, Early California or historic preservation. Visit our online events calendar for more information. Entrance to these lectures is free or reduced in price for SBTHP members. Recent lectures include:
- "California Mission Music: An Exploration of Styles and Musicians" by Dr. Craig Russell, Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
- "Becoming Californio: Jokes, Broadsides, and a Slap in the Face" by Dr. Louise Pubols, Oakland Museum of California
- "Caste, Race, and Class in Spanish California" by Dr. Vladimir Guerrero, freelance historical researcher
- "A Marching of the Empire: Children on the Second Anza Expedition" by Vanessa Crispin-Peralta, Adjunct Professor of History, Westmont College
SBTHP cooperates with a number of institutions and community groups in planning educational programs and occasions. Past affiliations have included the Hispanic Business Council, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Pearl Chase Society, Citizens’ Planning Association, Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Santa Barbara Historical Museum, Mission Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, and the Santa Barbara Chamber of Commerce.
Santa Barbara Educators' Roundtable
SBTHP is actively involved with this group of educators, which initiates institutional collaborations. Participating organizations have on-going projects, including the Passport Program.
|2006 CASA Summer Campers.
CASA Day Camp
Cultural Activities and Summer Adventures (CASA) is a free summer day-camp based at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. This program revolves around hands-on activities and field trips with participants referred by the Housing Authority of the City of Santa Barbara (HACSB) Resident Services. This two-week camp gives children ages six to 12 a chance to increase their knowledge of local history, improve critical thinking skills, and learn by doing.
SONando Santa Barbara
SBTHP is collaborating with the SONando Santa Barbara to connect and energize the communities of Santa Barbara County through traditional music and dance (son) from Mexico and Latin America. Through performances, educational programs, and community outreach the organization seeks to foster a deeper understanding and celebration of Latino culture, to inspire children through cultural pride and healthy self-esteem, and establish long-lasting connections within the broader local and international community.