I feel like American history teachers have it easy when it comes to field trips because, hello, we are surrounded by history. No matter where you live in this country, something historical happened there or nearby. It also amazes me how often people don’t take advantage of or know about historical sites and landmarks that are basically in their backyard. We feel like we are too familiar with what surrounds us and look elsewhere for excitement and activities.
Be sure to utilize your location as much as possible when it comes to booking field trips, but if you’re lucky enough to live near one of the following, make sure you seize the opportunity!
Top 5 Field Trips for American History
1. Boston, Massachusetts
The city itself is basically a living, breathing museum. Take your students for a walk along the Freedom Trail, a 3 mile stroll that takes you through the events leading to the War of Independence. Let your students explore Paul Revere’s home, the scene of the Boston Massacre, and the site of the Boston Tea Party. The Boston Tea Party Museum will be an experience your students will never forget. During an interactive tour through the museum and ships, your 18th century tour guide will enlighten and entertain, while ensuring your students will leave knowing exactly how this act of rebellion triggered the American Revolution.
Other options while you’re there:
Visit the Plimoth Plantation, where you will feel like you’re part of the early settlers’ colony. Students will be immersed in the past and will learn what it was like to be a Pilgrim through role playing and tours.
If you can, visit Salem, Massachusetts. Students will love learning the history of the witch trials, visiting the museums, and witnessing reenactments of one of America’s craziest stories
2. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
Home of one of the most famous battles during the Civil War, Gettysburg is a must see. Students will not only be able to stand where Lincoln gave his infamous address, but also view the 6,000 acre battlefield where hundreds of Confederate and Union soldiers gave their lives to the cause. There is also an extensive museum, dedicated to the history of the Civil War, which includes 12 galleries. If you can plan an overnight stay, the museum even has a program titled “The Great Task” for high school students that focuses on leadership and decision making.
And, of course, if time allows make a trip to Philadelphia. The city of brotherly love was the largest and most important city during the American Revolution. View the Liberty Bell and tour Betsy Ross’s home!
3. Washington, D.C.
There is no better place to learn about the nation’s democratic history than visiting the capitol. Tour the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Lincoln Memorial, and any of the Smithsonian Museums. Experience the Holocaust, black history, natural history, and more. Students will adventure though historical landmarks, be witness to amazing relics, and see what many don’t get to see other than on television.
4. Finger Lakes Region, New York
More important now than ever, take your students to see where brave women fought for their freedoms. Having just celebrated 100 years of women having the right to vote, the area is becoming more and more touristy, but they are eager to accommodate school field trips. See where famous, trailblazing women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton worked, plotted, and achieved their dreams. Tour the first Red Cross established by Clara Barton, see The Harriet Tubman Home where she aided in the Underground Railroad effort, and the National Susan B. Anthony museum where she lived and was arrested for voting. You also can’t leave without visiting the National Women’s Hall of Fame, housing stories of over 200 legendary women.
5. Williamsburg, Virginia
Visiting Colonial Williamsburg is a bucket list item for every history buff, so why not take your students and let them cross it off early? Travel back to the 18th century and experience the birth of our nation. Students will discover how early settlers lived and worked. If time allows, also try to visit Jamestown and Yorktown to make it to all three points of the “historic triangle”. See the first permanent English settlement in Jamestown, where independence was declared in Williamsburg, and where the last major battle of the American Revolution was won in Yorktown.
The majority of your students will never visit these places on their own. That is why field trips are so important. You can be the reason for their enlightenment, their understanding, empathy, and wisdom, so be sure to seize any opportunity your school gives you.
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This article is written by Lauren Bubb, an English Teacher at Frankfort-Schuyler Central Schools
To reach Lauren, please contact here.