Tag Archives: educational student travel washington dc

Washington, DC Illuminated Tour

A trip with your students to the Washington DC area is an adventure they will never forget. The best part of our Washington DC tour is when the sun sets and the entire city is quiet. The illuminated tour of the memorials and monuments makes the rich history of Washington DC seem more personal. The tour starts with the tribute to the soldiers of the Vietnam War. The Memorial Wall is etched with 58,318 names.  There are 1,200 names that are listed as missing (MIA) from the War never to be heard from again. Another dedication to the Vietnam memorial is the bronze statue of The Three Servicemen which depicts the three troops mourning the deaths of their fellow comrades. The third memorial to the Vietnam War is the Women’s Memorial which shows three nurses aiding a fellow solider and the dedication in their service.

Just past the Vietnam Memorial is the Lincoln Memorial which honors the 16th President of the United States. President Lincoln laid the foundation towards ending  slavery in the Southern states plus restoring the economy and revamping our government. Walking up the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, reminds you of the famous speech “I Have a Dream” given by the courageous and fearless leader of the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King Jr. one hundred years later. Overlooking the Lincoln Memorial is the Reflecting Pool which has been filmed in several movies where you can relive the scene from the movie “Forest Gump” when Jenny runs in the reflecting pool towards Forest or from “Planet of the Apes” when Captain Leo lands his plane in front of the Lincoln Memorial.

From the Lincoln Memorial, you will then find yourself surrounded by the statues of troops from the Korean War depicting the war when North Korea invaded South Korea with the United States came to the aid of South Korea. Sounds eerily familiar to current events. Doesn’t it? The 19 stainless steel statues depict all the branches of the United States military forces which include the Army, Marines, Navy and Air Force. The mural wall adjacent to the statues, is made from granite and portrays the photographs that were captured during the Korean War.

The next stop on the tour is the memorial dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. who was the leader of the Civil Rights movement. He was the voice for the African American community which endured racial discrimination and segregation.  Mr. King based his principles of non-violent resistance from Gandhi who was known for his idea of winning “hate with love”.  Mr. King continued the work of equality which was started by Abraham Lincoln in giving his famous  speech “I Have a Dream” on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on October 16, 1963. The Stone of Hope at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial is a portrait of Mr. King carved into a granite statue. Surrounding his statue, is fourteen quotes from either King’s speeches, sermons or writings. Reading each quote displayed on the wall, you can feel the pain and hardship for equal rights during that time period which is  still ongoing today.

After the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, you continue on to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in honor of our 32nd President. Roosevelt was rated as one of the top US presidents of all time as he guided the government during the Great Depression. He also aided Britain and China against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. After the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, he then declared war on Japan and Nazi Germany. He united our country in this dark era.  He spearheaded the Social Security Act which provided monetary security for the elderly still in existence today. The Roosevelt Memorial consists of a variety of sculptures to depict his life. There is a statue of Roosevelt along with his dog “Fala”,  and another of the first lady Mrs. Roosevelt,  honoring her dedication to the United Nations, and another statue of people standing in line for bread to portray the Great Depression. The designers of the Roosevelt Memorial made sure it was accessible to the disabled as President Roosevelt lost his legs due to polio during his childhood.

Then it’s a short drive to the next memorial which honors the fallen soldiers of World War II. The World War II Memorial is located between the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.  The Memorial is a tribute to the over 400,000 American soldiers who sacrificed their lives during this War. At the center of the memorial is an oval shaped fountain surrounded by 56 pillars representing, at that time, the nation’s 48 states, 7 federal territories and the District of Columbia. The northern entrance arch is engraved with “Atlantic” symbolizing the war against Nazi Germany while the southern entrance arch is engraves with “Pacific” symbolling the war against Japan. The Freedom Wall embellishes 4,048 gold stars, each representing 100 Americans who died in the war.

The tallest monument in the district is the  Washington Monument which honors our 1st President of the United States, George Washington. Before becoming President, Washington’s leadership secured American independence during the Revolution against Great Britain. His great leadership skills is the reason why he was so popular and elected president. President Washington helped forge the foundation of our nation.  He was  actively involved with the setup of our federal government that is in use more than 230 years later.  Things such as the cabinet system, the inaugural address,  plus the term Mr. President. He was also the first to sign the Constitution in 1789. George Washington will always be known as the “father of our country” as he helped the pathway for our country to follow.

The illuminated tour will open up your students eyes and bring history alive to them!

Living History Makes Student Travel to Washington DC and Williamsburg Memorable

By Howard Clemens

Watching history come alive can be a great way to engage student travel groups when visiting the Washington D.C. area. Living history programs are character reenactments from Revolutionary, Colonial and Civil War eras of American history. Attending one will give historically accurate information garnered directly from texts. Living history programs challenge students to take a deeper look at the characters that created the historical accounts read in the classroom today.

Mount Vernon, a Treasure of American History, Inhabited by Characters
What sorts of characters become known throughout time? Leaders do. Mount Vernon is a well-preserved site of one of the favorite founding fathers, George Washington and his second wife, Mary. The Mount Vernon property is teeming with life. Also known as Ferry Farm, this estate is populated with many of the characters of living history, including the proprietors, George and Mary Washington themselves. Students can inhabit different parts of the estate and be exposed to different viewpoints, from viewing slave quarters, to the working farm and mill, to the interior of Mount Vernon itself.

Recreating Mount Vernon as a Working Colonial Estate
Today, students might refer to a property like Mount Vernon as ‘sustainable living.’ Everything needed to feed, clothe and house the many inhabitants and visitors of the estate was cultivated here. A tour of Mount Vernon that includes living history presentations could easily take half a day. Students groups will watch and listen as re-enactors make wool and refine locally grown flax into fiber and show how horses treading wheat to remove seeds. Student tour groups can listen in to a conversation of the overseer, the blacksmith, or George Washington himself. Living history makes learning more interactive and gives students an entirely new perspective of history.

Social Studies and history teachers may want to combine a tour of Washington D.C. and Mount Vernon with a few days in Williamsburg, Virginia. Give student groups the opportunity for total immersion in the 18th Century time period while they tour the former capital of Virginia with Living History around every corner.

The 18th Century Capital of the Colonies: Williamsburg, VA
Colonial Williamsburg is the largest living history museum in the world. In the 1920s, John D. Rockefeller invested in the languishing historical buildings in Williamsburg. He hired the best artisans and restoration experts to rebuild the town correctly. Today, the former 18th Century capital of Virginia is the perfect setting for students to experience living history.

Imagine walking the streets of Williamsburg and being immersed into the 18th Century style of living. Students will see many of Colonial Williamsburg’s character actors passing in the cobblestone streets in 18th Century garb. The old buildings all look the same as they did then – made of red brick and mortar. The shops include a blacksmith, candle maker, and a silversmith, among others. Inside some of the Colonial homes, the servants are busy with everyday tasks. Students will watch and listen and may ask questions. As they walk through, they will see servants working in the gardens or kitchens of an authentic Colonial home, clothed in the garb of the 18th Century and using implements and foods harvested there and common in that era.

For another type of interactive experience, group leaders may opt to prearrange a lunch or dinner at an authentic tavern in Colonial Williamsburg.

Each of the characters encountered on the streets of Williamsburg speaks in Colonial tongue and has a story to tell about their place in time. The Court House and the Armory have been restored to their former character.

Student groups may watch living history programs in the courthouse specially designed for learning about Colonial law in Virginia, through the eyes of those who were judged. Or, take a student group on an evening tour of the “Ghosts Among Us” or “Pirates Amongst Us” to stimulate their imagination and recollection of the way history unfolded for some.

Jamestown Settlement
Students will love visiting Jamestown Settlement – another full immersion into the 17th Century. Just down the road from Colonial Williamsburg, situated on the James River, is where the first colonists landed in 1607. Board the replicas of the three ships, see a Powhatan village as it was in the 17th Century, and enter the replica of James Fort, the original home of new settlers in this country. Students will hear character actors speak from a variety of perspectives, including: common sailors, maids, Indians, and even the King James I.

Learning about history through books and film can be a great foundation for a student trip to Washington D.C. and Williamsburg. Living history programs provide a more intense and focused investigation into history, one that engages the student and makes a definite mark upon memory. After experiencing the characters of history the memory is attached to a real place.

“The willing suspension of disbelief” is required for a full (and fun) immersion into Early American history. The character actors do an excellent job of bringing all of the props, setting and the stories to life. Teachers can augment the experiential learning by assigning follow-up writing exercises or creating quizzes for students to observe and answer questions while on tour.

For more information about a living history tour of Washington D.C., Mount Vernon and Williamsburg, request a quote.

Docent Tour of the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

One of the most treasured buildings in Washington D.C. is the Library of Congress. Located on Capitol Hill and comprised of three buildings as well as an award winning website, it is “the largest library in the world.” Opened in 1800 The Library of Congress is the collective intellect of the Native America, Colonial America, and the present day United States as well as world influences upon its inhabitants. This historical building is a reminder of the power of freedom of speech and should be on every student travel itinerary.

Library of Congress to be Connected to the Capitol
Grounded in history, The Library of Congress still stays abreast of the times, by bringing a new interactive exhibit and experience for visitors. Soon there will be a passageway between the Library of Congress and The Capitol. The Library of Congress is connected to the Capitol in more then one way. It serves as the research branch of the legislature.

There are several individual library collections within the Library of Congress worth touring. A docent is provided by the LOC to make certain student travel groups have an excellent experience and receive knowledgeable answers to their questions.

Thomas Jefferson’s Library
Perhaps the most influential donor, one who helped create the library by giving 6,487 volumes for its creation, was Thomas Jefferson. Similar to Benjamin Franklin, who helped initiate the Free Library of Philadelphia, Jefferson believed in the power of books to transform the individual and society. His library was divided into three categories that were part of the organization of the British library during his day: memory, reason, and imagination. The Library of Congress carefully preserves his cataloguing system for the exhibition. The Jefferson collection highlights his fascination for subjects such as philosophy, religion, building and architecture. Thomas Jefferson’s library also reveals some books he received from a lifelong friend, John Quincy Adams.

Lesson Plans and Classroom Materials from the Library of Congress

For the teacher who wants to prepare students for a visit to The Library of Congress, there are some excellent materials for use, available online at http://www.loc.gov/teachers. There are learning modules on American photography archives, history, and all types of artistic works such as performing arts, creative arts, crafts, and music. Although some may only think of the Library of Congress as a repository of books, it is really a place for all types of records: audio, video, photography, original art, and more. The Library of Congress is a great way to delve into the culture of the United States, and celebrate its diversity.

Exploring the Early Americas

Exhibitions at the Library of Congress also include a thorough exploration of pre and post colonial and Early American maps and documents as well as information and artifacts on first contact between Europeans and Native Americans.

Creating the United States

Creating the United States is another popular exhibit for student travelers. Our founding fathers are celebrated by revealing many original writings and documents that pre-dated the official Declaration of Independence and Bill of Rights.

The preservation and display of important documents is essential. The Library of Congress is also a repository for catalogued artistic production in the United States. The professional staff and docents at the Library of Congress are well versed in their discipline, and eager to inform and educate student travel groups.

For assistance crafting a custom itinerary for your student travel group that includes a trip to the Library of Congress, email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com and a member of our staff will reply to you quickly.