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Student Trip to Baltimore to Celebrate the Bicentennial of the War of 1812

Many students of American history read about the War of 1812 as part of their studies of Nineteenth Century history.  This naval war impacted the burgeoning United States and the port cities along the East Coast, as well as cities inland, along major waterways.

This year, Baltimore, Maryland is the focus of the national launch of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 with the Star-Spangled Sailabration from June 13-19, 2012.  This kickoff celebration begins in Baltimore Harbor where visitors can see a spectacular display of U.S., British and Canadian naval vessels and tall ships from around the world. Audiences will also see an air show featuring the Blue Angels.

Teachers and trip leaders are encouraged to combine a visit to Washington D.C. with a visit to Baltimore to experience the Bicentennial of the War of 1812.   Even if the student group is not available to travel from June 13-19, they may still experience part of the Bicentennial celebration. Baltimore and other cities throughout the U.S and Canada affected by the War of 1812 will continue to stage events dedicated to the remembrance of the War of 1812 through 2014.

Following is a brief outline of the six major sites in Baltimore and Washington D.C. that reinforce studies of the War of 1812. In addition to Baltimore, Maryland, and Washington D.C. other states participating in this event are:  Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  Student travel groups destined for any of these locations can also tie their trip into War of 1812 sites in these locations.

Baltimore, Maryland, War of 1812 Sites of Interest

Fort McHenry
Many Americans and representatives felt an attack on Baltimore was imminent after a declaration of war against the British. So, Fort McHenry was prepared with fortifications and soldiers to defend the city against the British. This site is well-preserved and maintained by the National Park Service.  Fort McHenry is known as the star fort, because it was constructed in the shape of a five-pointed star.  The fort was attacked by British cannon fire and survived the battle.

The Star Spangled Banner Flag House
Students will want to tour the house where Mary Pickersgill sewed the flag that flew over Fort McHenry during the battle of 1814, when the Fort was under assault by the British.  Pickersgill lived here with her daughter Caroline and her mother, Rebecca Young, who started the flag-making business during the Revolutionary War period in Philadelphia.  Student groups can tour the home that is decorated with 19th century furniture and fixtures.  Frequent living history presentations are also staged here, so students may encounter Mary Pickersgill, Rebecca Young or Grace Wisher, the African-American apprentice who lived and worked there.  These living history actresses will narrate their story in the first person to help make the process of creating the flag come alive.

Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum
Students can see a special exhibition for the Bicentennial of the War of 1812 here:  “Farmers, Patriots and Traitors:  Southern Maryland and the War of 1812.”  At the time of the War of 1812, the U.S. had no organized naval fleet. So, in June of 1814, Commodore Joshua Barney pulled together a fleet of eighteen gun boats, barges and sloops to take on the British Navy. This unofficial fleet of ships engaged in battle with the British Navy twice in June of 1814. The battles took place at the intersection of the Patuxent River and St. Leonard Creek, near the shores of Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum.  They are known as the largest naval engagement in the history of Maryland, and helped turned the tides of the War of 1812 in favor of the U.S.

Washington, D.C. War of 1812 Sites of Interest

Smithsonian Museum
Students can see the actual flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the National Anthem in the The Star- Spangled Banner exhibition at the National Museum of American History.  The flag is 200 years old and measures 30 x 34 feet. It is housed in an environmentally controlled chamber to preserve it and visitors can interact with the artifact through a tactile image.

White House
Student groups may visit the White House as part of their scheduled tour.   James Madison was President of the United States when he asked Congress to declare war on June 1, 1812. Teachers can prepare classes for this study by taking an in-depth look at Madison’s presidency, and his reasons for going to war, prior to the trip.

In addition to these War of 1812 sites, student groups can learn more about other historical  periods by visiting the Baltimore and/or Washington D.C. area. Popular destinations include the U.S. Capitol Building, the monuments tour, Mount Vernon and more. Check the events schedule on The Official war of 1812 Bicentennial Website to see if a student trip schedule will coincide with other public events.

To request a quote for a class trip to Baltimore and Washington D.C. visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com.

A Middle School Trip to Washington D.C. to Study American History

Lisa Wertz is a middle school teacher who brought her 8th grade class to Washington D.C. each year.  “I always felt that the trip was good preparation for high school,” said Wertz. The visit to Washington DC is “great preparation for the 8th graders since they will take government classes in 9th grade,” added Wertz. An in depth look at the places in Washington D.C. which house the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government was also a once in a lifetime experience for many of the students who traveled on these trips from Boulder, Colorado to the East Coast.

Educational Trip to Washington D.C. Includes Time with Senator

Thanks to advanced planning, there were also added educational experiences on the most recent class trip to Washington D.C. In addition to seeing the White House and U.S. Capitol, the class was able to meet with Senator Bennet during their visit.  “It was impressive,” said Wertz, “We met with Senator Bennet in the agricultural committee room in the Russell Building.”  She said students were able to ask him questions.  This type of interactive experience is possible for many student tours, though not all participate with representatives in this way. Sometimes a representative’s schedule or lack of enough advanced planning can prevent a group from dialoguing directly with their congressmen or senators.  Trip leaders should ask a student travel consultant for procedures on booking time with representatives.  Book six months to one year in advance of the visit to Washington D.C.

Casey Middle School Government Students Participate in Mock Hearing

In addition to meeting with Senator Bennet, Representative Jared Polis’ staff conducted a mock committee hearing for Wertz’s middle school group.   She said students learned how bills are sometimes attached to other bills.  The topics presented included Medical Marijuana and the Dream Act.  This mock hearing enabled students to better understand the day-to-day workings of a democratic government.  In this setting, students, like representatives, are challenged to listen to and assimilate the opinions of all sides.

Other D.C. Destinations on the Class Trip

There were other destinations on this trip to Washington D.C. that tied in well with the curriculum. The group was able to visit the Supreme Court.  Students looked at the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, which was a highlight for many.  They also visited the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum and the American and Natural History Museum — two popular choices for student groups.

Students See Mount Vernon by Boat and Land

On their final day on tour, Wertz’s students took a Spirit Cruise around Mount Vernon and spent the day at George and Martha Washington’s estate.  Wertz said, “We designed a scavenger hunt for Mount Vernon. Students used their cell phone cameras to record the information they found there.  It was really fun!”   Incorporating the tools of new technology into the Mount Vernon visit helped to interest students in history by engaging them more deeply with the artifacts and structures there.

Casey Middle School’s four day, three night tour was packed with even more interesting activities.  They visited the Newseum and had a full tour of the Holocaust Museum. Each of these museums has a great deal to offer the student of American History and government.  Both museums are relatively new, and integrate interactive technology into exhibits.

On this unique tour, students took an in-depth look at U.S. government and studied how it functions in a free society.  They were able to visit sites of historical significance, speak directly to their representatives and participate in a mock hearing.  A combination of indoor and outdoor destinations created a full itinerary with plenty of opportunity for learning.

Request a Quote for the U.S. History/Government tour of Washington D.C. or email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Visit the New National Musuem of American History in Washington D.C.

Plan an Educational Tour of the National Museum of American History in Washington DC

Student field trips and educational tours to famous, metropolitan cities like New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC are popular these days, but in the fall of 2008 a Washington DC educational student travel destination reopens that everyone will want to visit. On Friday, November 21, 2008 the National Museum of American History opens its doors after over two years and $85 million of architectural renovations. According to a July 30, 2008 press release from the National Museum of American History the center core of the building has been redesigned to improve architectural appeal and modernize the presentation of the museum’s extensive collections. The redesign includes construction of a skylit 5-story atrium, grand staircase and a new Star-Spangled Banner Gallery.

Visit the Museum of American History and Make Your Washington DC Student Travel Tour a Success

An Inspirational and Educational Field Trip: Visit the 200-Year-Old Star Spangled Banner
In the center of Washington DC’s American History Museum the Star-Spangled Banner Gallery was built to inspire visitors through the dramatic and powerful story of the American flag and the national anthem. The Star-Spangled Banner gallery is a state of the art facility made to protect, preserve and display the American flag. Housed behind a 45-foot tall, floor to ceiling glass wall in a special, climate controlled chamber the flag’s wool and cotton fibers are monitored and maintained. Low light levels and the projection of the first stanza of Francis Scott Key’s poem, “The Star Spangled Banner” on the wall above and behind the flag provide excellent visibility for museum visitors. According to the American History Museum’s web site, “The History Channel, a donor through financial contributions and in-kind gifts, will release a new one-hour special touching on the flag’s colorful history, including the specialized conservation treatment undertaken by the museum and the new high-tech flag chamber.” As a part of the ‘Save Our History’ series, the History Channel documentary airs this fall.

Celebrate American History: Take a Class Trip to See the White House Copy of President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, given on November 19, 1863, is one of the most well-known and memorable speeches in American history. The manuscript, displayed at the National Museum of American History in Washington DC, is one of five drafts and the last known to have been written in Lincoln’s own hand in March of 1864. This copy of the Gettysburg Address is officially part of a collection kept at the White House in the private quarters of the Lincoln Bedroom. First Lady Laura Bush approved the loan of this copy to the Washington DC American History Museum until January 4, 2009.

Additional Museum Exhibitions Perfect for Student Tour Groups and Student Trips
On the second floor of the National Museum of American History the Nina and Ivan Selin Welcome Center serves as a landmark and houses historical objects like the Vassar College telescope from 1865. The telescope is situated on the west wing of the first floor to represent science and technology and was used by the first woman astronomer in America. The west wing also includes a hands-on science and invention center called the Lemelson Hall of Invention and Spark!Lab. One of the program highlights planned for the spring of 2009 is the 8,000 square foot ‘On the Water: Stories from Maritime America’ exhibition. In 2009 The Susan and Elihu Rose Gallery will begin to feature rotating exhibits so visitors can encounter varying historic characters every weekend as well as celebrate and learn about various federal holidays.

Make Your Educational Student Tour Unforgettable at Washington DC’s National Museum of American History

The American History Museum renovations also include the construction of the 275-seat Carmichael Auditorium, the Samuel J. and Ethel LaFrak Lobby, new elevators, new restrooms, retail operations, The Constitution Café and the 600-seat Stars and Stripes Café. Historians, families, student travel tours, educational travel services and individuals interested in exploring American history from colonial to modern times can view virtual exhibits and collections online at the National Museum of American History’s web site: americanhistory.si.edu. Museum schedules, special events and educational activities are also available online.

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Washington D.C.: Popular Places to Dine, Entertain, and Shop With Student Travel Groups

Students traveling to Washington D.C. on tour are more likely to enjoy themselves when the educational experience is coupled with dining and entertainment experiences they find exciting. An educational travel company and the tour guide working in the Washington D.C. area can work together to add some age appropriate experiences to student travel that will be well remembered. The good news for parents, teachers, and administrators is that it is not necessary to depart from the educational objectives of the student trip to satisfy the student group’s yearning for something different.

Recently, I interviewed Ann Greenwald, a Tour Director and a licensed Washington D.C. guide who has been working in the profession for eight years. Greenwald has given knowledgeable and insightful guided tours to many student travel groups in and around Washington D.C. and has a real feel for the types of dining, entertainment and shopping experiences students enjoy. The selections discussed are popular and economic choices for student travel tour itineraries.

Student Travel Groups: Shopping in Washington D.C.

When students shop, they do so to purchase souvenirs, or small gifts for their families and friends. A shopping experience for a student on tour in Washington D.C. can be as simple as visiting the National Archives and picking up a replica of the Declaration of Independence in the gift shop. “At the Air and Space Center, students get a kick out of buying the freeze dried ice cream that astronauts eat,” says Ann Greenwald.

Student travel groups often gravitate toward the more economical choices for shopping – such as a souvenir store. Ann Greenwald says there are two very popular stores among student groups in downtown Washington D.C.: “Students love Souvenir City & Joes. Both stores offer reasonably priced t-shirts and sweatshirts. FBI and Secret Service hats are popular among student travel groups and can be purchased at either store. Any shopping experience tied into the educational experience can be rewarding and fun.”

Combine Dining and Entertainment in Washington D.C.: Student Favorites

There are several great restaurants in the Washington D.C. area that combine dining and entertainment and are well loved by student travel groups. “McGill’s Pizza in Annandale, Virginia is a student favorite,” said Greenwald. “McGill’s has an arcade with a game room, so students can win things when they purchase tickets,” she added.
The ESPN Zone, in downtown Washington D.C. is also popular among student travel groups. It’s conveniently located around the corner from Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. Greenwald says, “Student groups can have a meal, and if it’s included in their tour they receive a $10 card that may be used in the downstairs arcade.”
Another popular eatery for student groups on tour of Washington D.C. is the Hard Rock Café. “Student travel groups just think it’s cool to go into the Hard Rock Café,” says Greenwald. “There’s the memorabilia, pictures, and rock music playing all the time,” she continued, “and all of this adds to the appeal for student travelers.”
Consider combining food and entertainment on a student travel tour of Washington D.C. one evening to lighten the student group’s spirits and put them in a great mood for touring the next day.

Entertainment for Student Travel Groups
There are numerous choices for entertainment in Washington D.C. that will captivate student travel groups. Greenwald says that if it’s in the student travel budget, attending “Sheer Madness” at the Kennedy Center is an evening that student travelers enjoy immensely. The interactive murder mystery dinner theater format gets students involved with the theater production and outcome of the ‘whodunit’ plot.

Finally, an evening illuminated tour of the monuments in Washington D.C. can be a great way to draw student travelers into the experience of history. Greenwald commented, “ As the symbolism is explained at the various monuments, kids gain a better understanding of history. Instead of just staring at an inanimate object, I explain why the monument is there, and what the symbolism signifies. They come away with a greater understanding of U.S. history, and the permanent mark it has left on Washington D.C.” An evening walk around Washington D.C. in the spring or fall adds an outdoor dimension to touring that is appreciated by all. Students should plan accordingly by brining appropriate clothing for Washington D.C. weather during the time of year they visit.

These recommended choices for dining, entertainment and shopping for student travel are by no means a comprehensive list of the possibilities. The suggestions Greenwald makes for student groups on tour of Washington D.C. are simple and cost effective so they make great additions to a trip itinerary. For the student traveler, a tour of Washington D.C. is an intense four to five day learning experience which needs to be balanced with some good old fashioned fun. Request a Quote for a student travel tour of Washington D.C. that includes some great dining, shopping and entertainment choices.

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Washington D.C. and Vicinity – a Revolutionary War Tour

Many student travel groups I have toured with are visiting the East Coast for the first time. I like to offer these types of groups a view of Early American life that spans many of the Eastern states, with a focus on the Revolutionary War period.
In order to understand the Revolutionary War within the larger scheme of things, I advise teachers coordinating student tour groups to visit Yorktown and Mount Vernon in Virginia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Washington D.C. Boston, Massachusettes is also on the list of destinations for the Revolutionary War Tour, but in the interest of keeping the trip brief and manageable, Boston is usually excluded. History and government teachers may want to offer an overview of Boston and the role it played during the Revolutionary War period prior to the student travel trip.

For student tour groups taking the tour from the West Coast or the Midwest, flying into Norfolk, Virginia, and flying out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania makes a great deal of sense for the Revolutionary War tour because it saves time. Students coming from closer locations may want to consider alternate flying routes to save time and cover the most distance possible. The educational travel professionals at my company schedule the student tour with everyone’s comfort and convenience in mind.


Yorktown Virginia – A Must See on the Student Travel Tour

Yorktown Battlefields are a primary destination for the Revolutionary War tour of the East. In 1781, General Lord Charles Cornwallis surrendered with 8,300 troops, ending the American Revolution in Yorktown. Yet the story leading up to this surrender, and the battles fought before it took place are engaging and numerous. Student travel groups will want to take the 7-mile or 9 mile driving tours of Yorktown Battlefields to have a fuller understanding of the scope of this final battle and Cornwallis’ surrender.

Yorktown Battlefield Museum
The Yorktown Battlefield Museum details it as the place where Virginia’s colonial government was established in 1691. Because of its strategic location on the York River, one of the main tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, Yorktown was a highly contested Naval post during the Revolutionary War, and so was the appropriate place for the final battle to be fought. Student tour groups will learn a great deal about the culmination of the Revolutionary War at Yorktown and therefore, should not miss this destination.

Teachers may visit http://www.nps.gov/york/forteachers/yorktowneducationalprograms.htm and with enough advance notice, may book special interepretive programs that are in sync with curriculum objectives.


Historic Revolutionary War Sites Near Washington D.C.

Not far from Washington D.C. is one of the most famous estates on American soil. Mount Vernon was George Washington’s Home, and was a working farm as well as an estate home in the Early American style. Both are well preserved. Living history programs including an actress who plays the part of Martha Washington, Our First Lady, and demonstrations of Early American farming techniques are some of the highlights of the Mount Vernon tour. Students can visit the Eighteenth Century house, farm, and gristmill for an authentic glimpse into what it must have been like to live during Washington’s time.

Philadelphia: Important Sites for a Student Tour of Revolutionary War
Since the creation and signing of the Declaration of Independence from British Colonial rule occurred in Philadelphia, many would consider it the birthplace of democracy. Thus, Philadelphia is on the Itinerary for the Revolutionary War Tour. There are many prominent sites to enjoy in Philadelphia.

Independence Hall: Visit the place where the signers of the Declaration of Independence sat and had discourse on this historic document before penning their names in old fashioned ink. Independence Hall is a well preserved and maintained site and is well worth the visit.

Liberty Bell: Though it is broken and not in use the Liberty Bell is on display for all to see now at a special location between 5th and 6th on Market Street in Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell Center has exhibits and a movie to explain the significance of the Liberty Bell in American History.

Betsy Ross House: Nestled in Old City Philadelphia, not far from the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall is Betsy Ross’s historic home. Betsy Ross made the first American flag and is one of the earliest women patriots. Student tour groups will enjoy a short tour of her home and the story of how she made the first American flag.

Christ Church: Located near 2nd Street and above Market, Historic Christ Church dates to 1695 and is an appropriate place to visit for the revolutionary War Tour. Christ Church was one of the first parishes of the Church of England in the new world. The Christ Church Burial Ground includes the tombs of some famous early Americans including Ben Franklin who was interred there. This historic, early American landmark is a site that student groups will not want to miss.

Washington Crossing Park
George Washington led 2,500 troops across the Delaware River on Christmas Day in 1776 from Buck’s County Pennsylvania to Trenton to attack an army of 1,500 and won. This victory came at a low point in the Revolutionary War. Students will want to visit the Pennsylvania side of Washington Crossing to see the museum, and should time permit, cross to the New Jersey side to see the landing area and the road used by the continental army to march to Trenton and attack. The trip to Washington Crossing is a short one hour journey from Philadelphia and well worth it for its historical significance during the Revolutionary period.

There are other historic sites that date back to revolutionary times and are significant. For this tour, I have concentrated on the major high points of the war and the major historic sites. Student travel groups wishing to book a tour with a Revolutionary War theme can email: info@educationaltravelconsultants.com for more information.

Evening Entertainment for Student Travel Groups on Tour in Washington D.C.

It’s easy to find fun and educational things to do with student groups in the evenings in Washington D.C. Student travel is enhanced by a careful selection of entertainment venues. My company, Educational Travel Consultants, extends the entertainment choices beyond the perimeters of Washington D.C. There are some great entertainment opportunities for student tour groups inside Washington D.C. and just an hour outside of Washington D.C.

Twilight Tattoo on the White House Ellipse
Student travelers are thrilled to spend an evening outdoors during the spring to enjoy the pageantry of a Twilight Tattoo on the White House Ellipse. Twilight Tatoos highlight the strong and enduring history of the U.S. Military with performance, pageantry, and display of arms. The Twilight Tattoo is a way to learn about the longstanding traditions of morale, leadership, and a community of caring. At the Tattoo, student travel groups can celebrate military tradition. It features The Old Guard, Soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, and the ceremonial unit, a Fife and Drum Corps as well as a performance by the U.S. Army Drill Team; The U.S. Army Band Blues jazz ensemble, vocalists from The United States Army Chorus and The U.S. Army Chorale.

U.S. Naval Band Performance
Formed in 1925, the U.S. Naval Band makes its home in the “Sail Loft” of the historic Washington Navy Yard, the oldest naval establishment in the United States. Music has provided relaxation and camaraderie for enlisted men and officers in the U.S. Navy since post-revolutionary times and continues to inspire patriotism and respect for military tradition in student travel groups today. The U.S Naval Band are professional musicians and they are in Washington D.C. to perform around the holidays and special events of military significance. Plan a student travel tour in sync with a U.S. Naval Band performance in Washington D.C.

U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Team
Housed in the historic marine barracks in Washington D.C., the U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill team is hand picked from the marines for their ability to carry out gun drills without commands. This amazing demonstration is performed throughout the summer months at the intersection of 8th and I. Student travel groups particularly enjoy this display of unspoken communication, discipline and coordination. Once again, this evening activity allows student tour groups to spend some time outdoors during pleasant weather. For a deeper understanding of the tradition of the U.S. Marines and the Silent Drill team, students may prepare for their tour by visiting http://www.marines.com/page/usmc.jsp?pageId=/page/Detail-XML-Conversion.jsp?pageName=Silent-Drill&flashRedirect=true.

Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center
This student travel tour favorite is a play that has been running continuously since 1987. The audience participation ‘whodunit’ style production makes detectives out of everyone. This is a great active learning experience for the student traveler in Washington D.C. Held in the Theater Lab of Kennedy Center, the audience is surrounding the stage and can easily interact with actors in this theater in the round. Student tour groups look forward to the Shear Madness performance in Washington D.C. because it is contemporary, funny, engaging, and alive with possibilities. Shear Madness is also performed in Boston. When student tour groups attend a Shear Madness performance, they must solve the crime in collusion with the rest of the audience and the ending is always a surprise for all.

Broadway Style Musical Dinner Theater Shows
For the student travel tour that may not make it to Toronto or New York City – never fear, a taste of off Broadway is still here. Off Broadway professional dinner theaters such as Toby’s and Lazy Susan are located in or near the Washington D.C. metro area. Off Broadway dinner theater is the perfect venue for a student travel tour in search of some entertainment. Students may see some well known Broadway musicals such as “A Chorus Line,” “The Sound of Music”, “Lend Me a Tenor,” and many more famous musicals too numerous to list here.

Medieval Times Dinner Theater
Student tour groups love to visit Maryland’s Medieval Times Castle, just outside of Washington D.C. in Hanover, Maryland. Even though Maryland was still a wilderness during medieval times – it doesn’t matter. The Maryland Castle is inside the Arundel Mills Mall, and can seat 1,000 people. Student tour groups interested in the full medieval experience – including live jousting tournaments on horses plus a great dinner feast — will be excited by a visit to the castle and the surrounding mall. Student travel groups are thrilled to participate in this active learning experience where Medieval times come alive, in great splendor.

Exciting evening activities abound for the student travel group visiting the Washington D.C. area. Many evening activities are found in the greater metro area surrounding Washington D.C., and some are in downtown Washington D.C. Whatever your choice of student travel entertainment while in the D.C. area, make sure it complements the main trip theme, and contains an educational component that ties in with the curriculum.

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