Tag Archives: educational tours washington d.c.

American History in Person: Junior High Student Trip to Washington DC & Philadelphia

Students from The Big Piney School in Wyoming in front of the Washington Cathedral.

Greg Bell, a junior high U.S. History and World Geography teacher from Wyoming, takes 30-40 students on an East Coast tour each year that includes visits to Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and even Gettysburg. These trips expand student learning about these subjects and expose them to a whole new world.  Bell’s group comes from Big Piney, WY — a town of about 1,000 people. It is 100 miles to the nearest shopping mall.  Visiting the urban areas of the East Coast is a real eye opener. Bell says, “I have taken students on these trips for 19 years now. Some people remark that it must get boring.  After all this time I have not grown tired of it. It is the highlight of my year. It’s a social studies teacher’s dream.”

Encountering American historical sites in person is different than learning about them through reading and lectures.  “I can lecture to the kids about George Washington,” says Bell, “but there is nothing like watching a kid walk through Mount Vernon on his own.” During their trip to Washington’s former estate, they met George Washington in person (a living history actor) and were able to ask him questions.

Greg and his son, Jefrrey Bell, stand in front of the Liberty Bell on their school trip to Philadelphia.

Meanwhile other actors were shooting replicas of Colonial weapons. Life in the Eighteenth Century is dramatized in front of the student group and they get to tour a well-preserved, authentic plantation from that time period – complete with living history actors who re-enact life in the Revolutionary period.

Curriculum objectives are closely tied to the itinerary of the trip. Bell’s U.S. History class begins with the American Revolution and ends with the Civil War.  That’s why a visit to Philadelphia is on the itinerary.  “It’s the birthplace of America,” remarked Bell. “We walk through Independence Hall and see the actual place where the Constitution was written.”  Students remember their time spent at Independence Hall vividly, and often speak about this, and other sites in their post trip discussions back at Big Piney School.

Philadelphia is the birthplace of America, but Washington D.C. is the hub of government today.  At Arlington Cemetery, Big Piney School students witnessed the changing of the guard. “In class,” Bell says, “we speak about what a reverent place it is.  We stop and see famous Americans buried there. Who, as an American, cannot be touched by looking off at those endless rows of white headstones?”  Another somber site students visit is the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Bell covers the holocaust of World War II in his 7th grade World Geography class.  Bell steers the students away from the more graphic exhibitions. He says they can return in a few years, when they are older. But the most memorable exhibits for students are the display of the shoes of the Holocaust and Daniel’s story.  “There are mountains and mountains of shoes, and each pair represents a person – a human being,” remarked Bell.  Kids also relate to Daniel’s story of the holocaust, because he is about their age.  “Every year some of the kids come out of the elevator in tears,” says Bell.

The Big Piney School 8th Grade Class poses for a picture while they visit the East Coast.

Post trip in-class exercises include discussions of sites that sparked students’ creativity with challenges to recall the memory of what they’ve seen.  “When we return we have a sharing activity, comparing and contrasting what we’ve done in class versus what we saw on the trip,” said Bell.  Some students even make Power Point presentations to share photos of their trip with other students. Bell has designed a fun, interactive exercise for his classes.  “We play a little review game where the students get clues about the history and location of a site. Their task is to guess which site it is,” said Bell.  Exercises such as these stimulate memories of the trip and get them talking about it to one another.

In addition to being a history and world geography teacher, Greg Bell is also the Social Studies Chair for Sublette District #9. This position puts him in charge of setting up K-12 curricula for Social Studies teachers in his district. He is a husband and father of two children. His job is challenging, and his work impacts other teachers. Recently, some of Bell’s female students purchased him a bracelet that says, ‘what you do matters.’ He was wearing this bracelet during the interview. Clearly Bell’s teaching methods –which include these annual trips to Washington D.C. and Philadelphia — do have a lasting impact on students and the way he chooses to educate them.

Request a quote for educational tours that tie in closely to curricular objectives and are customized with teacher and student needs in mind. Or, email info@educationaltravelconsultants.com.

Add a Tour of Virginia Battlefields to a Washington D.C. Student Trip

Student trips headed to Washington D.C. to tour may want to consider adding a visit to some Civil War battlefields in nearby Virginia to their itinerary. Many of the critical battles of the Civil War were fought in Virginia, with the ultimate goal being the capture of Richmond by Union forces, since it was the Confederate Capitol.

The furthest of the battlefields I suggest is Petersburg — a three-hour bus ride away. Appomattox, Shenandoah, Fredericksburg and Richmond are approximately two hours or less from Washington D.C.

A student trip can also be built solely around the Civil War. Or, it may include a more comprehensive look at history, beginning with the settlement of Jamestown and Williamsburg as Colonial capitals, and the early days of the Revolutionary War.

Shenandoah: New Market Battlefield and State Historical Park
The site of one of the Confederate victories, New Market Battlefield was the place where early in the war, young cadets from Virginia Military Institute fought and won a victory for the South. Student trips may visit a 19th Century farm, tour the Hall of Valor Civil War Museum, and learn about the actual cadets who made a difference that day.

Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Civil War Battlefields
These sites are within a forty-five minute drive from Williamsburg, so student trip organizers may want to consider a visit to Colonial Williamsburg and/or Jamestown and Yorktown while visiting the area. The Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park and the Manassas National Battlefield Park are important components to any study of the Civil War. Manassas is the Virginia town where The Battle of Bull Run was fought. One of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Fredericksburg, was fought there and was considered a great victory for General Robert E. Lee. Chatham Manor is located at Fredericksburg and was at one time a hospital and Union headquarters. Three other battles fought between 1862-64 include: Battle of Chancellorsville, Battle of Wilderness, and Battle of Spotsylvania.

Petersburg: the Siege Ending the Civil War
The historic battle where General Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant’s armies faced off for the final battle of the Civil War was the Siege of Petersburg, a strategic supply point for the Confederate Army. During this battle, which lasted nearly a year, Confederate troops dug in while the Union army seized railroad supply lines surrounding Petersburg with the ultimate goal of taking Richmond. Grant’s army was successful at routing Lee and his army from Petersburg, and this decisive battle helped to end the Civil War in 1865. Teachers may easily prepare a curriculum for the student trip by consulting the website at http://www.nps.gov/pete/forteachers/index.htm.

Pamplin Historical Park & The National Museum of the Civil War Soldier
Pamplin was the place near Richmond where the decisive Breakthrough Battle occurred April 2, 1865. After the Confederate Army suffered a loss at Pamplin, Richmond was evacuated. Pamplin encompasses 422 acres. Student groups will be engaged in interactive living history programs, and have access to four different museums at this location. Student groups may visit four antebellum homes and shopping facilities.

Richmond: Confederate Capital
As the site of the White House of the Confederacy and the present day Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond is a must see on a Civil War tour of Virginia. Richmond is significant because the siege of Richmond signified the war’s end. There were also numerous battles fought there from the beginning of the Civil War in 1862, mostly in the farm and plantation land surrounding the city. Richmond National Battlefield Park spans 1900 acres and is divided into 13 units. Numerous battles were fought throughout the war in the Richmond area. Richmond’s inhabitants saw a steady stream of wounded and were subject to rationing on a regular basis. Learn about the lives of United States Coloured Troops (USCT) who fought for the Union at the Battle of New Market and were one of the first regiments to reach Richmond. Tour the battlefield by bus and stop at some of the earthworks to view them up close. Teachers may prepare an advance lesson plan by visiting: http://www.nps.gov/rich/forteachers/curriculum-based-programs.htm.

Appomattox Courthouse: Where the Civil War Ended

Grant and Lee at Appomattox Courthouse signed the final treaty sanctioning the end of the Civil War. On April 9, 1865 Lee requested a private meeting with Grant. They convened at the McLean residence in Appomattox Courthouse, where they conversed like gentlemen for 25 minutes before Lee mentioned a surrender of his troops. Grant put his terms in writing and Lee reviewed them there. Lee requested his men be allowed to keep their horses, since in the Confederate Army the men owned them. He also mentioned his troops were hungry. As an act of good will, Grant dispatched 25,000 rations that day. The war between the states ended quite calmly in this historic town in Virginia. A visit to Appomattox Courthouse is an excellent educational experience for any group. Learning materials for curriculum development are available at http://www.nps.gov/apco/forteachers/curriculummaterials.htm.

It is obvious that Virginia is a pivotal state in the study of the Civil War. Consider a statewide tour focused on the subject of the Civil War completely, or develop a combination tour with a visit to Washington D.C. or Williamsburg for even greater coverage of American history. Whatever the itinerary or learning objective for a student group, a visit to historic Civil War sites in Virginia can be integrated into just about any type of educational tour.

Student Travel to Washington DC: Don’t Miss the new Mount Vernon Educational Center

by Howard Clemens

Learn About George Washington’s Life on an Educational Student Tour of Mount Vernon Estate & Gardens

One of the most popular historic locations in the United States, Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens, is located sixteen miles south of Washington, DC on the banks of the Potomac River. Each year Mount Vernon provides events, tours and exhibits for American history lovers. Educational student tour groups, student travel organizations, families and individuals can enjoy the Mansion House, slave quarters, the kitchen, stables, the greenhouse, hiking trails, the Farm, the Slave Memorial and Washington’s Tomb. In addition to tours and exhibits, Mount Vernon offers Adventures in Learning programs created specifically for high school trips, educational travel tours and history field trips. Also recently opened are The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center and the Ford Orientation Center, which chronicle the life and times of George Washington through multi media presentations, historical artifacts and storytelling.

The History of Mount Vernon: A Student Travel Destination for Over 140 Years

Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens were the home of George and Martha Washington after they were married in 1759. They lived there until George Washington’s death in 1799. During his forty years there Washington grew the estate to 8,000 acres and expanded the Mansion House to twenty-one rooms. In 1858 the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association bought the estate from the Washington family and Mount Vernon was opened to the public in 1860. Since 1860 approximately 80 million people have toured the estate grounds and attended educational travel programs and events.

The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center: An Unforgettable Student Travel Tour Destination in Washington DC

Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens is dedicated to helping schools, student tour groups, educational travel services, families and individuals discover the real George Washington. In order to achieve this goal Mount Vernon has recently opened The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center. This educational hub features twenty-three galleries and theaters equipped with interactive technology built to teach the details of George Washington’s childhood, young adult life and experiences as a leader in American History. The Education Center is also home to Washington’s Presidential Library, classroom space and computers, which store over 20,000 letters written by George Washington himself.

A major highlight of the Donald W. Reynolds Museum are the three life size models of George Washington made by a forensic anthropologist and a team of special experts. The museum provides state of the art display for its incredible collection of furnishings, china, silver, clothing, jewelry, rare books, manuscripts, Revolutionary War artifacts and other personal effects of the Washington family. In order to maintain the pastoral setting and picturesque views on the estate sixty-five percent of the 66,700-square foot Ford Orientation Center and Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center complex are constructed under the four-acre pasture just inside the main gate. The architectural design preserves the historic look of Mount Vernon and creates a grazing pasture for traditional Hogg Island sheep, similar to those Washington raised 200 years ago.

Discover Educational History Tours That Are Fun for Students and Teachers Alike at The Ford Orientation Center

A statue of the Washington family greets groups and people visiting the Ford Orientation Center. Filled with exhibitions and featuring a film about the life, struggles and achievements of George Washington the Ford Orientation Center provides visitors the chance to learn about this dynamic, captivating hero of American history. Made possible through the longstanding support of Ford Motor Company, the Ford Orientation Center is meant to be a doorway into the nation’s past. “Ford Motor Company’s support of Mount Vernon started with Henry Ford,” states Mount Vernon’s executive director James C. Rees, “It continues with the Ford Orientation Center, a vital resource which will be the gateway for generations of young Americans to learn about George Washington.”

Educational Student Travel: Adventures in Learning Created for Your Curriculum

Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens offers a wide range of student travel tours, educational field trips and learning experiences. Each program is designed to meet school curriculum standards and specifically focus on George Washington and 18th century living. Programs are seasonal and can be scheduled at educational student rates. The Donald W. Reynolds Museum and Education Center and the Ford Orientation Center have been designed in partnership with the History Channel, which produced eleven educational videos for the project. Plan to spend the entire day at Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens. To find out more visit the Mount Vernon web site www.MountVernon.org.

View this article on IdeaMarketers.

Add On Day Trips for Student Travel to Washington D.C.

Student travel groups headed to the Washington D.C. area may want to consider adding on day or overnight trips to nearby areas relevant to colonial or revolutionary history. There are many rich educational experiences in the Washington D.C. area, and even more destinations just a 2-4 hour driving distance outside of Washington D.C.
In my experience as an educational travel consultant, groups benefit greatly from visiting additional cities. From an educational perspective, it gives students a much wider scope of the historic period they are studying. For many groups, a study of the Civil War is relevant to their tour, and a northern and southern perspective is needed for a complete overview of the Civil War period.
Suggestions for additional cities that can easily be added to a student travel trip to Washington D.C. are included here. If the student group flies into Washington D.C., a motor coach can be utilized to travel to additional destinations such as Williamsburg, Gettysburg, and Philadelphia and Lancaster.

Williamsburg
Approximately three hours south of Washington D.C. is the town of Williamsburg Virginia. Williamsburg was the 18th Century colonial capital, and the place where the Governor resided. Colonial Williamsburg has been called the living history capital of the east, and for good reason. A student travel group can tour the town and watch history come alive as costumed interpreters tell stories derived from historical records, and give more detailed information about buildings and colonial lifestyles. Students embrace living history because it’s a fun way to learn. If student groups can stay in the Williamsburg area overnight, an additional trip to Historic Jamestown, site of the first permanent English settlement, and Yorktown National Battlefield, significant in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, is plausible.

Gettysburg
The Gettysburg National Military Park is located about two hours northwest of Washington D.C. and makes for a nice additional city to add on to a student travel tour.

The Educational Travel Consultants student tour of the Gettysburg battlefields includes a tour guide with expert knowledge of the Gettysburg area and the Civil War era. Student travel groups should be prepared to tour for two to three hours. A visit the National Park Visitor Center benefits student groups by giving them a better understanding of the Gettysburg National Battlefield history through exhibits and films.

Philadelphia and Lancaster
Student travel groups who explore the educational venues in Washington D.C. will expand their knowledge of history when they take a short trip to Philadelphia and/or Lancaster Pennsylvania.
The Philadelphia walking tour is a great way for student travel groups to familiarize themselves with colonial history and the history of the U.S. government. A tour of Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were both composed. Students can also see the Liberty Bell, Visit Betsy Ross’s house and walk in Elfreth’s Alley, one of the oldest residential streets in Philadelphia, which dates back to 1702.
In nearby Lancaster Pennsylvania, students can experience the Amish way of life, tour a working farm, and dine at an authentic Amish restaurant.
With all of the additional choices for educational travel outside of Washington D.C., there are lots of creative ways to construct an interesting trip that will give a group a great overview of history and be fun and interesting at the same time.

Here’s a link to the article on ArticleSphere.com.