As we make our way into November, life still hasn’t fully returned to its pre-COVID days. While there are some signs of normalcy, cases are beginning to surge once again (as had been feared by experts), which means a full reopening of the country is still a ways away. Many attractions and institutions remain closed, or are open with limited capacity and/or availability.
With that in mind, fall is an amazing time of year (as you know if you’ve read my earlier blog posts!), but it’s also an incredible time to learn. So many important milestones and events have occurred in the months of October (which you already know if you read my earlier blog posts!) and November (coming soon!)…wouldn’t it be cool to take a virtual field trip (or at least watch a really cool video) to tour the places where these events occurred?
I think I heard a “yes”, so let’s go!
- Plimoth Plantation: Plymouth, Massachusetts. When you think of autumn, what’s the first holiday that comes to mind? If you said Halloween…you’d be wrong. Well, for the purposes of this field trip, anyway. It’s Thanksgiving! Go online and journey back to 17th century New England to see what life was like in Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts, where the Pilgrims arrived on the Mayflower and celebrated the first Thanksgiving with the Wampanoag tribe. (Fun fact: they didn’t eat turkey and mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.) This virtual field trip at Plimoth Plantation is a living museum, where you can watch both the village residents as well as the Wampanoag go about their daily business and hear their stories.
- Redwood National Park: Crescent City, California. Did you know that Redwood National Park was established in October of 1968? You would if you read one of the previous blog posts! Anyway, this national park is absolutely breathtaking with its forest of majestic redwood trees that can grow to approximately 400 feet tall and live for nearly 2,000 years (in some cases…most live between 800 and 1,500 years). While it’s not quite the same experience of standing amongst the giants in person, Redwood National Park’s virtual tour of the forest is the next best thing, with some stunning views and camera angles to take in at home.
- Chicago, Illinois: What does Chicago have to do with the fall? Not a whole lot, aside from the fact that the Great Chicago Fire wiped out a large portion of the city in October of 1871. Chicago just happens to be one of the coolest cities on the planet, with so much to see and do. And fortunately, there are plenty of virtual tours of The Windy City to take–you can literally see almost the entire city, from The Bean to the wide variety of world-renowned museums! But a “trip” to Chicago just isn’t complete without an aerial view of the city from the Skydeck of the 12th tallest building in the world–The Willis Tower. The views from atop the John Hancock Building aren’t so bad either…especially if you try out their Tilt! Attraction!
- The Bahamas: Wait, a tropical paradise? In the fall? First off, there’s no bad time to experience a tropical paradise. Second, the Bahamas actually do tie into fall quite nicely. Christopher Columbus, in his search for a western route from Europe to Asia, made landfall on an island that he thought was part of the Indies. It was, in fact, the island of Rum Cay in the Bahamas! While this virtual tour of the Bahamas won’t take you to Rum Cay, you’ll get to see the splendor of other Bahamian islands in amazing 360-degree views.
- The White House: Washington, DC. Yes, Election Day is in the fall. But the real reason to take a virtual tour of the White House during the fall is that George Washington laid the first cornerstone at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on October 13, 1792. This tour is pretty cool–I mean, how many people get to step foot inside the president’s residence? There are so many hallways and rooms, each classically decorated and full of history. Just think about all of the important events that have taken place in this building–getting to see it up close, even if it’s through a computer screen, is a fascinating experience.
- Harvard University: Cambridge, Massachusetts. As if you needed a reason to observe New England in the fall. Well, here’s another one! Harvard University, one of the world’s most prestigious institutions, was founded in 1636 by a Puritan named John Harvard, who donated his library and part of his estate to create what was known as Harvard College. Not only does this virtual tour give you and your student the opportunity to “step” onto the campus of a world-renowned university, it also provides a chance to explore the oldest institution of higher learning in America.
- Mount Rushmore: Keystone, South Dakota. Trivia question: do you know how many people have stood atop Mount Rushmore, in between the carved busts of some of America’s greatest presidents? Answer: I have no idea. But my guess is very few. With this virtual tour, you have the opportunity to do just that! Not only do you get to observe some amazing views of the surrounding National Park, but you can actually stand on the shoulders of giants and gaze down from the same perch as Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, and Jefferson.
- The Salem Witch Trials: Salem, Massachusetts. Back to New England we go, this time to Salem to take a tour of what is thought to be the only standing structure with direct ties to the Salem Witch Trials in 1692. It’s eerie, it’s creepy, and it’s history. While not specifically occurring in the fall, the trials took place from February 1692 through May 1693. But witches…Halloween…it’s a good fit. Plus, it’s another reason to see New England in the fall.
- The World War II Museum: New Orleans, Louisiana. New Orleans might not be the first city that comes to mind when you’re discussing World War II, but The Big Easy is home to an incredible museum dedicated to WWII, with more than 250,000 artifacts and some amazing exhibits. And while you may not be able to get there in person, The World War II Museum offers “electronic field trips” that are designed just for students both in traditional school and homeschool. Veterans Day is in November, so it’s the right time to honor all of the brave men and women who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces to protect our great country.
- Dealey Plaza JFK Assassination Site: Dallas, Texas. November 22, 1963 remains one of the most somber days in American history. It was on that day that President John F. Kennedy, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, and local politicians were riding through Dallas in a motorcade when an assassin (or assassins) opened fire on the president’s convertible and mortally wounded the 35th President of the United States. The entire world–but especially America–was in a state of shock and disbelief and mourned this tragic event. How could this have happened? To this day, JFK’s assassination remains a much-discussed topic that has spawned countless theories, books, movies, and TV shows on who, where, how, and why President Kennedy was shot and killed that day in downtown Dallas. While the topic is a difficult and unpleasant one to discuss and learn, it’s a hugely important date in our country’s history. This virtual tour takes you through Dealey Plaza, the site of the assassination, as well as the museum dedicated to the tragedy.
- President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. “Four score and seven years ago…”, and the famous speech was finished by President Abraham Lincoln not long after that. Yes, the Gettysburg Address was only about two minutes in length, but its words and its meaning were–and remain–immensely powerful. Honest Abe delivered the speech on November 19, 1863, as he dedicated the Gettysburg Battlefield as a National Cemetery. Take a (virtual) trip to Pennsylvania and immerse yourself in 360-degree, crystal-clear views of some of the most famous Civil War sites from one of the most famous Civil War battles.
Attractions may be closed or offer limited experiences, but that can’t stop you from learning and teaching! These 11 virtual tours and field trips are fun, easy, and convenient ways to surround your student in history, beauty, and curiosity. Another amazing resource for fun and factual lessons is our education partner, Elephango. You obviously already viewed some of their lessons in the links above, and they offer so much more…go check them out! Oh, and if you just want to take in the sights of some of the most famous and beautiful places in the world, visit Google Earth and EarthCam, which offer links to locations and live webcams across the globe. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m heading off to catch a view of Toronto from atop the CN Tower and then to Nepal to stand on top of Mount Everest…