This summer the park is offering several free educational programs for children ages 5 and up. The hands-on workshops explore the history of early Fort Smith. While the activities are designed to be fun for the children, they are also educational and tie into Arkansas’s state curriculum frameworks and standards. Unless otherwise noted, the workshops are one hour in duration. Reservations are required and may be made by calling the park at 479-783-3961.
Deputy Marshals of Fort Smith
Saturday, May 19 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Each Deputy U.S. Marshal working out of Parker’s court made certain he had the proper tools to carry out his job. Two essential tools were his badge and logbook. Children will learn about the responsibilities of the deputies and make their own badge and logbook. This free workshop is open to children ages 5 and up.
Signing Up for the Army
Monday, June 4 10:00 a.m.
Most of the men who came to Fort Smith as soldiers did not have military training. Their daily routine at the fort included instruction on learning how to be a soldier. Children in this workshop will be “enlisted” in the army of the second Fort Smith and then will practice the basic 19th century drill on the parade grounds. This free workshop is open to children ages 5 and up.
Historic Uses of Native Trees at Fort Smith
Saturday, June 9 10:00 a.m.
Monday, June 11 10:00 a.m.
Native people and soldiers of early Fort Smith used many natural resources of this area. In this workshop children will explore Belle Point, the site of the first Fort Smith, and the river trail as they discover the unique uses of native trees found in this area. Children will then put together a tree identification booklet. This free workshop is open to children ages 5 and up.
“Oh, Say Can You See…” Flags of Fort Smith
Thursday, June 14 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Several countries have at one time laid claim to the land that would eventually become Fort Smith. In this Flag Day workshop children will learn about these countries and their flags. Even the United States flag that flew at the fort changed over time. As each flag is presented, the children will make a paper flag. This free workshop is open to children ages 5 and up.
4th of July Celebrations in 19th century Fort Smith
Saturday, June 30 1 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Wednesday, July 4 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
In the 19th century, the 4th of July was often celebrated with speeches and patriotic music. The local newspapers wrote about some of these celebrations. In this free workshop children will read selections from speeches, write their own patriotic speeches, and sing some of the songs performed on the 4th of July during the time of Judge Parker. This free workshop is open to children ages 5 and up. .
Native American Games
Saturday, July 7 10:00 a.m.
For centuries, Native American children were taught and played a variety of games to strengthen both their minds and bodies. Adults often found pleasure in playing the games as well. This workshop will introduce children to several of the games played by the Five Tribes. This free workshop is open to children ages 5 and up.
French Fur Trapper’s “Possibles Bag”
Saturday, July 14 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
French fur trappers were among the first Europeans to navigate along the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers and gave the name “Belle Point” to the site that would become Fort Smith. This workshop will highlight the life of these French fur trappers. Children will make a small “leather” possibles pouch like that used by the trappers to store a variety of “possible” personal and essential items. This free workshop is open to children ages 5 and up.
A Stitch in Time: 19th c. Embroidery
Wednesday, July 18 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
In the 19th century ladies learned the art of embroidery by making samplers. In this workshop, children will learn some of the basic embroidery stitches. Class size is limited to 8 and children must have basic experience in using a needle and thread. The workshop will be 1 ½ hrs.
Civil War Quilts
Thursday, July 19 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
Saturday, July 21 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
When the Civil War first broke out, patriotic women from both the North and South rallied to provide support. This often involved giving blankets and making quilts for the soldiers. In this workshop children will learn how women were able to provide these items, even as fabric became scarce. The children will then design and sew their own quilt block using fabric squares. The workshop will be 1 ½ hrs. Class size is limited to 10 and is open to children ages 7 and up.
“Wish You Were Here” Postcards of Early Fort Smith
Tuesday, July 31 10:00 a.m. & 1:00 p.m.
People have sent postcards while on vacation and from their home cities since the early 20th century. Fort Smith National Historic Site has many old postcards in its collection that feature some of the historic buildings and scenes along the Arkansas River. These postcards tell us a great deal about how the area looked in the past. In this workshop children will make comparisons between the images on the cards and the buildings that remain today. They will then make their own postcard of Fort Smith, complete with a handwritten greeting. This free workshop is open to children ages 5 and up.
Painting at the Point
Thursday, August 2 10:00 a.m.
Monday, August 6 10:00 a.m.
The first Fort Smith was established in 1817 at a place called Belle Point, overlooking the Arkansas and Poteau Rivers. A few years later, an exploring party that mapped and recorded the Rocky Mountain region stopped at Fort Smith on their return home to St. Louis. Samuel Seymour was one of two artists who traveled on this expedition. While at Fort Smith he drew sketches of the fort and later painted a watercolor based on one of his drawings. Children will examine this early depiction of Fort Smith and using watercolors, create their own image of the scenic location. This free workshop is open to children ages 5 and up.