Teachers know that a lot of learning takes place outside of the classroom and parents can play a key role in facilitating that. Summer is a great time to discover historical sites in your area or while traveling on vacation.
While the US is in its infancy compared to Europe or Asia, there are still so many wonderful historical sites in America that can enrich a child’s understanding of the world around them.
From the Freedom Walk in Boston to the Montgomery Civil Rights Walk, there are powerful images and sites that bring history to light.
ESGI and ThinkFives polled hundreds of teachers about which historical sites they’d recommend and here’s their list. There’s no doubt that these would make great family visits, or if you teach nearby, wonderful field trips:
4 Scores, 7 Years Ago. Sound familiar? That short unforgettable speech forever profiled and honored the courage of the many men and women who died there. You can visit the memorable landmark where President Lincoln delivered the speech, but you need to take the tour of the battlefield to truly understand the Battle of Gettysburg and the great sacrifices made during our country’s bloodiest battle.
It’s a great field trip for classes, and there is also a museum and presentation on the site.
- Ulysses S. Grant was not at the Battle of Gettysburg as he was engaged in the Battle of Vicksburg, Mississippi.
- The Second Day’s Battle was the largest and costliest of the three days. At least 100,000 soldiers were involved, of which roughly 20,000 were killed, wounded, captured, or missing.
- Tragically, the wagon train of wounded Confederates in their retreat from Gettysburg was 17 miles long.
- The park is now more wooded than in 1863, done by the Park Department as an ongoing program to restore parts of the park to its historical conditions.
- The park has 1,320 monuments, 148 buildings, 410 cannons and over 7,700 bodies interred in the cemetery.
The 9/11 Memorial is a tribute of remembrance, honoring the 2,977 people killed in the terror attacks of September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center site, near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, and at the Pentagon, as well as the six people killed in the World Trade Center bombing on February 26, 1993.
This somber site attracted more than 4 million people in its first year and is now one of the most visited museums in the United States. The names on the parapets are more than mere engravings on bronze, and the 55,000 gallons of water recycling through the reflecting pools is more than a social media post. It is a constant reminder of that infamous day. It is a memorial.
For that reason, be prepared for an emotional experience, especially if you bring children. Everything about the memorial and museum is serious and subdued. From the cold, gray metal framing the pools and memorializing the names of the victims to the dark and austere concrete walls of the museum, this is an emotional experience.
Memorial and Museum Facts
- The names inscribed on the wall represent 9/11 attack homicide victims: people who died as a direct result of injury sustained in the attacks on September 11, 2001.
- Located at the bedrock of the World Trade Center site, seven stories below the Memorial, the Museum’s core exhibitions allow visitors to learn about the history of 9/11 where it happened, at the very foundation of where the Twin Towers once stood.
- An audio guide app is available, and it features a 40-minute tour about the events of 9/11, the victims of the attacks, and the design of the Memorial.
- A Callery pear tree known as the Survivor Tree is seen among the Memorial’s white oak trees. The Survivor Tree’s dark green leaves stand in contrast to the yellow-green leaves of the oaks.
- Nearly 10,000 students participated annually in educator-led workshops and tours thanks to a grant that covers the admission and program costs for students in the tri-state area.
Statue of Liberty
Miss Liberty as she’s known to friends has sat in the New York harbor (don’t tell that to New Jersey) for over 100 years. You can view her from downtown Manhattan, Staten Island or yes even Jersey, but if you want the full State of LIberty experience, take a boat and enjoy the 20-story climb up to the crown. Yes, that’s 160+ steps, but it’s certainly a view you’ll remember forever.
And take a moment to read the inscription at the base, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” As teachers, we should be proud of that national commitment.
- The Statue of Liberty was a functioning lighthouse for 16 years but was shut down because its light was too dim for ships.
- When the French transported the Statue, it was transported in 350 different pieces.
- The iconic green color is a product of copper’s oxidation process. The original sculpture was originally a reddish-bronze color.
- While the torso and arms were modeled after the creator, Bartholdi’s wife, the famously stern face of the Statue of Liberty was inspired by his own mother.
- The opening celebration of the Statue of Liberty started a classic NYC tradition. When people at the New York Stock Exchange threw ticker tape from their window, it started a special tradition for future parades.
- The statue wears size 879 shoes.
Faces on a rock? That is probably the worst description of Mount Rushmore you could say. Spectacular, Majesty, Man-made Wonder would all be a much better place to start. The first blast on the mountain occurred in 1927, and 400 men and women worked through hot summers and cold winters to create the 60-foot faces, nearly 500 feet up the side of the mountain.
Over 90% of the mountain was carved using dynamite. The memorial was officially declared complete on October 31, 1941.
- The carving of Mount Rushmore was done by almost 400 men.
- Each head on Mount Rushmore is 60 feet tall.
- Susan B. Anthony, a women’s rights activist, was meant to be on the mountain with the presidents, but a funding problem got in the way.
- The local Lakota Sioux Native Americans opposed the sculpting of Mount Rushmore before it was built — and still do to this day.
- There’s a secret room behind President Lincoln’s head that was meant to be called the Hall of Records.
Not surprising, the Country’s Capital is #1 on the list. There’s the famous white building that everyone talks about and the large pointed monument honoring our first president.
Not to mention, you could spend a few days in the Smithstonian and still not see every exhibit. The Halocoust Museum, FBI Tour, the Mint, Africain American History, the Library of Congress, the Capital, Supreme Court …. Well, you get the picture. We need several Top 5 Lists just on DC.
- Washington, D.C. is named after both George Washington (Washington) and Christopher Columbus (D.C.- District of Columbia).
- The Smithsonian Institute’s 19 museums display only 1% of their collection at any time – including Dorothy’s red slippers.
- The Library of Congress is the largest library in the world with a collection of more than 160 million objects.
- John Adams was the first president to live in the White House. It was built after George Washington’s death.
- There’s a typo at the Lincoln Memorial! If you look closely on the north wall you can see the letter “E” instead of the letter “F” in “FUTURE” despite efforts to cover it.
Teachers also recommend the following sites:
- September 11 Memorial, NY
- Ellis Island. NY
- Mt. Vernon, VA
- Pearl Harbor. HI
- Independence Hall, PA
Source: ESGI – ThinkFives Survey
Historical sites you want to add to the list? Comment below.