Children fascinated by the presidency and all things associated with our country's highest elected office can benefit from interactive virtual field trips that bring the learning into your home. Virtual field trips can serve as self-paced, age-appropriate ways to provide kids with a more in-depth look at various presidents and their contributions to our country's history. Here are 4 virtual field trips you can take with your elementary-aged children to learn about George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and John F. Kennedy.
- George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. Located just south of Washington, D.C., Mount Vernon served as the home of George and Martha Washington. Get an overview of Mount Vernon through a brief video and then take a tour of President Washington's 18th century home through the virtual mansion tour. Older kids will enjoy the timeline of his life as well as George Washington's World for Kids, an interactive educational site.
- Ford's Theater, the site of Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Depending on the age of your children, you may or may not want them to know that President Lincoln was assassinated in Ford's Theater. However, this site is an important place in our nation's history. See the inside of the theater through a virtual tour. Beautiful, screen-size images of the interior and exterior of the theater, Presidential Box, and view from the box will help deepen a curious child's understanding.
- Thomas Jefferson's Monticello. While you may not be able to travel to Charlottesville to visit Monticello in person, the interactive Monticello Explorer provides a 3D tour of the house and more information can be found in my full review, Virtual Field Trip: Monticello. Also be sure to check out The Monticello Classroom, a treasure trove of educational resources for kids. One benefit of the virtual tour is that you can decide how to approach the topic of slavery with your kids, which cannot be avoided during an in-person trip to Monticello.
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. Located just south of Boston, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum offers online visitors the opportunity to learn about a day in the life of President Kennedy. Page through his White House Diary that includes "digital scans of his actual Appointment Diary for any given day as well as video, audio, and photos of the day's events." Click through to "We Choose the Moon" to follow the historic moon landing, as well as to see photos and footage that document President Kennedy's challenge to Congress to put a man on the moon before the end of the decade. This site recreates the historical Apollo 11 lunar landing on July 20, 1969. Or visit at your leisure through a virtual museum tour. To access the virtual museum tour, click on the Visits tab and locate Virtual Museum Tour in the pull-down menu.