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Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Tour of NYC: Student Travel Groups Learn About American History

Seeing historic sights in person can bring history to life for students, help put the information into context for them, and spark their interest for further study. One of the important lessons students learn is that the United States of America is a nation of immigrants.

A great way to teach immigration is to take students on an educational field trip to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty as part of a student trip to New York City.

There are a variety of ways for students to tour the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Guided tours with a park ranger are available as are audio tours. Both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island offer a variety of special programs for a wide range of grades and students. Teachers can also request a free curriculum guide or a traveling trunk or “Park in a Pack” curriculum kit packed full of learning activities and teaching aids. For more information about the Park in a Pack and other curriculum materials go to www.nps.gov/stli/forteachers/ or www.nps.gov/elis/forteachers/.

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty on Liberty Island offers as many opportunities for teaching American history as it does views of New York City.

A gift from the French in 1886, the Statue of Liberty is one of the most symbolic monuments in America. It has been under the administration of the National Park Service since 1933(Ellis Island is part of the same park).

Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi designed and created the statue and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel built the interior framework of iron and steel. The statue, situated within the star-shaped walls of Fort Wood, stands on top of a granite pedestal.

The symbols incorporated into the statue make great discussion points as student tour groups learn about the history of the monument and America as well as the various meanings the Statue of Liberty has to people around the world.

Student Travel Groups Tour the Statue of Liberty
During a visit to Liberty Island and the Stature of Liberty, student groups on educational field trips with monument passes are able to tour the museum, areas of Fort Wood, the promenade, and take in the view from the pedestal observation deck.

Although the crown and the statue’s structure have been closed to the public since 2001, a glass ceiling allows student groups to view the magnificent engineering within the statue.

Highlights of a Student Tour of the Statue of Liberty
The museum, located within the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, includes several exhibits incorporating artifacts, photographs, prints, videos, drawings, oral histories, full-scale replicas, and even cartoons to educate student tour groups about history of the statue and its symbolism. Student groups come face-to-face with the original torch, replaced in 1984, from the lobby floor or the second floor balcony.

Ellis Island
Ellis Island was the first federal immigration station. Some 12 million immigrants passed through it between 1892 and 1954. Now it is a physical reminder of these events. It is also a monument to all who came to America in search of a new life. Educational travel groups can tie their visit to a curriculum about immigration, the Industrial Revolution, and the War of 1812 when Ellis Island was home to Fort Gibson.


Touring Ellis Island with a Student Group

The Main Building, dating from 1900, has been restored and is open to the public as the Ellis Island Immigration Museum. The Ellis Island Immigration Museum is an excellent stop on any educational field trip to New York City.

The museum occupies more than 40,000 square feet on three floors in the Main Building. The French Renaissance structure designed by Boring and Tilton is as much an exhibit as the ones inside. The building was restored to its 1918-1924 appearance in the 1980s.

Highlights of the Ellis Island Immigration Museum

The American Immigrant Wall of Honor is a remembrance of all immigrants regardless of where they came from, when they arrived, or through which port they entered. Over 700,000 names are already inscribed on the Wall. Students can look for their family name on the Wall.

Students can follow in the footsteps of the brave immigrants by touring the many rooms in the building. A variety of exhibits chronicle the history of Ellis Island, 400 years of immigration, and personalize the immigrant story with clothing, personal objects, photographs, papers, interactive displays, videos, and oral histories. All of this make Ellis Island a valuable and memorable learning experience for any student travel trip. Visit the New York City page for more details on student travel tours of the big apple.

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New York City: Student Travel Favorites: Shopping, Dining, & Entertainment

Dining, shopping and entertainment activities in New York City are educational experiences for student travel groups. New York City was formed by an immigrant population, and still retains these national identities in some neighborhoods such as Chinatown and Little Italy. While many student travel groups originate from small towns across America, these places do not often have the ethnic diversity of New York City. So even touring the city streets in Manhattan can be an educational experience for many.

For this article, I wanted to discover what some of the more popular choices for dining, shopping and entertainment were among student travelers in NYC. I have interviewed one of Educational Travel Consultants’ licensed NYC Tour Guides. Karen Goodman belongs to the Guide Association of New York, where “Guides go on various tours that are sponsored by the Association to keep us up-to-date on new happenings in the city.”

Following is a compilation of some of my own best picks for dining for student travel in NYC, along with Karen Goodman’s thoughts on shopping and entertainment.

Student Tour Groups Can Shop in Times Square
A student group tour of New York City should include shopping visits that are convenient to historic or arts districts students are already visiting. “Broadway is a popular destination for student groups and also a great place to pick up some souvenirs,” said Karen Goodman. “Students can purchase NYC t-shirts, and baseball hats for a NYC ball team or NYC police or fire departments. The Times Square area is filled with these sorts of stores.”

Shopping on Fifth Avenue in New York City

Students enjoy shopping on 5th Avenue, which is convenient to the Rockefeller Center area. Saks 5th Avenue is in the vicinity, as well as Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and Trump Plaza. “More than anything, student travelers seem to love to visit a food vendor or purchase a scarf or shawl from licensed street vendors,” said Goodman. So, shopping on 5th Avenue does not always have to be decadent, it can still be simple and pragmatic and fit the student budget.

Student Travel Groups Shop in Chinatown
Goodman observed that students love to go shopping in Chinatown. “There is a strong ethnic feel,” she says. “Some things are written in Chinese. The streets are windy and not on a grid like other parts of NYC. Student travelers love to purchase the costume jewelry, sunglasses and hats that are available in Chinatown,” added Goodman.

Dining Out In New York City With Student Travelers
Eating out in a city on the scale of New York can be a great adventure. Student groups request Hard Rock Café and Planet Hollywood, because they are widely known.

I recommend ethnic choices for food to many student groups. We all have our favorites. I like to take student travel groups to Jewish delis, out for real Italian food, or to a Chinese restaurant.

My two personal favorite Jewish Delis are the Stage Deli and the Carnegie Deli. At these authentic New York delis students are astounded by sandwiches with one pound of meat. The overlarge portion of NYC cheesecake is also impressive.

Taking students to restaurants in Chinatown for an authentic Chinese dining experience is usually on the itinerary for NYC. I take student travel groups to Jack’s Pizzeria and Restaurant for authentic Italian food. Jack’s pizza is right off Broadway in Greenwich Village. It’s probably the best pizza in New York City. One half block away is an Italian Bakery Ferraras. It has been a bakery since the 19th Century. Ferrara’s is a place where students can indulge their longing for sweets.

Believe it or not, sometimes a real authentic experience for students is buying a hot dog or hot pretzel right on the streets of NYC.

For the student tour group wanting something a little different, I have found that visiting Mars 2010, an alien experience restaurant, may be just what they need.
The choices for dining out in New York City seem endless. And, they are.

Entertainment

Karen Goodman says some of the best entertainment for student travel groups combines culture and education. Goodman says, “Many of the student performance tours will be given a tour of Lincoln Center. Often these groups have the opportunity to take a backstage tour. They are thrilled to see the home of the New York Philharmonic. They also like to visit Carnegie Hall and take that backstage tour, where guides may give them a chance to sing at the stage microphone, briefly.”

Student travel groups that want to take in a Broadway play may select long running Broadway musicals, such as The Lion King and Phantom of the Opera. “Students are also fond of the Disney productions, such as Mary Poppins or Wicked. They are thrilled by the musical Momma Mia, too. Momma Mia is a string of Abba songs, and the audience dances. Students like it because it’s lively,” said Goodman.

Goodman says that a simple walk through Central Park can be invigorating and exciting for student travel groups as well. Here they will see the place memorialized in John Lennon’s name, as well as a glimpse of some splendid gardens and other historic markers in New York City.

This short list of recommended destinations is by no means complete. For even more details on dining entertainment and shopping in New York City for student travel groups, visit http://www.educationaltravelconsultants.com/destination/location/new_york_city.htm

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