How would you like to show your kids the world this winter? You can, right from the comfort of your own home, with virtual field trips! Although nothing could ever match the thrill of visiting famous historical locations in person, the increased availability of virtual tours allows experiences homeschoolers never could have dreamed of even a few years ago. Armed with a good Internet connection and a little preparation, you can climb into the pyramids, visit the home of Anne Frank, or even soar into outer space!
So, how do you enjoy a virtual field trip?
Here are a few tips:
- Plan the same way you would for any other field trip, coordinating the field trip location with your current area of study.
- Familiarize yourself with the tour in advance. Pre-read introductions or text-heavy portions and be ready to summarize those for your children to allow the field trip to run more smoothly.
- Unlike a physical field trip, virtual field trips require sitting in front of a computer rather than running around letting off energy! So, set a time limit that fits the attention spans of your children. If the location is large and general, like with the Louvre, select in advance which locations you would like to visit this time. You can always go back!
- Because virtual tours are graphic-heavy, plan your field trip around low Internet traffic times to ensure quicker loading.
Here are just a few examples of the many possibilities to explore with virtual field trips!
EXPLORE WASHINGTON D.C.
Introduce your children to the many treasures found in Washington DC! Here are just a few of the virtual tours available in our nation’s capital.
View images from public rooms of the White House and learn interesting facts about their history and usage.
Using a combination of video, text, and graphic guides, tour the US Capitol and learn information about its design, its history, and what it is like to work there.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
Enjoy a self-guided virtual walking tour through each room of the museum, either using a centralized map for guidance or simply following arrows from room to room.
WASHINGTON NATIONAL CATHEDRAL
Discover a variety of tour options, ranging from guided to interactive tours. Virtual visitors can even virtually explore areas that are off-limits to physical visitors.
EXPLORE THE UNITED STATES
Branch out beyond Washington DC and explore the rich history represented throughout our nation.
Enhance any study of the American colonial period through online exhibits and activities available for locations such as Colonial Williamsburg.
Take a Thanksgiving virtual field trip and learn more about the Pilgrims with a visit to Plimoth Plantation’s website.
STATUE OF LIBERTY
What was it like for many of our ancestors to arrive on US soil for the first time? A journey through the virtual tour of Ellis Island brings immigration studies to life.
Around & Out of This World
There’s nothing like an exciting trip to explore a new culture. But, it doesn’t always require a plane ride! Visit these sites around the world…and beyond!
Begin instilling a love of art in your children with a visit to the Louvre! Explore the halls of this vast museum and look for exclamation point icons on some of the exhibits, offering additional information.
No study of European history is complete without a glimpse into life in a castle. Clan Menzies offers an inside look at a well-preserved, sixteenth-century Scottish castle, even featuring a room that housed Bonnie Prince Charlie himself!
Moving south and back in time a century, the ruins of Raglan Castle in south Wales exemplify medieval castles in Great Britain. Students can dig deep into their imaginations to picture what it must have been like to live in these cold, stone fortresses.
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION
Of course, history does not offer the only educational exploration. Virtual tours can take you places even the most exciting field trip could never go! Thanks to NASA, explore what life is like for the crew of the International Space Station.
Take a slightly different look at the solar system with this virtual tour. Learn information about each planet, and see where the planets should be in their orbits on any given date. While you’re at it, explore the night sky with a look at the many constellations.