Field Trip Opportunities in Washington, DC

This post is a post that goes along with my posts on the HEAV Blog about summertime schooling in the Commonwealth of Virginia. If you want to check out my posts on the HEAV Blog you can find them here:

If you live in Virginia odds are you have been to DC at least once, whether it was recently, or a while ago as a kid there are good odds that you have been there. If you haven’t I encourage you to do so – DC is a beautiful place full of monuments, history and culture. Let’s start with some of the monuments and memorials.

The Washington Monument – Whether you have visited DC or just driven by on the beltway, the Washington Monument is hard to miss. Standing at 555 feet 5-1/8″, this marble obelisk was built to honor George Washington. The monument was originally built in the late 1800’s, completed in 1884 and has undergone various restoration projects in the 1930’s, 1960’s, 1990’s and most recently 2011-2014 in order to repair some damage done during the earthquake on August 23, 2011. A notable fact is that the monument was built in two sections, the original section was built in 1854, but the monument society ran out of money. The second section which completed the monument 25 years later, however the marble for the second section was mined from a different quarry, while the marble closely matched at the time time and weather has caused the two sections to weather differently causing the two shades of color. My favorite part of the Washington Monument is actually the aluminum cap on the top. If you see the sun glinting off of the top of the monument, that is the aluminum cap. It isn’t easily seen and the inscriptions are unreadable unless you scaled the outside of the monument (which I don’t recommend). Why is this my favorite part? On the East face of the cap are the words “Laus Deo”, which is Latin for Praise God or Praise be to God. Personally I like the idea that God is on high in Washington – no matter what happens politically. You can visit the Washington Monument and even go inside, however tickets are required and are limited daily. Visit the Washington Monument Website to learn more about how to Plan Your Visit.

The National Mall – DC’s Monuments and memorials are free and open to the public 24 hours a day and the National Mall is where you can find them. The National Mall is a two mils green expanse stretching from the US Capital Building to the Lincoln Memorial. Check out the various monuments that you can visit:

Plus at the National Mall and the surrounding Memorial Parks, kids can earn a Junior Ranger Badge and you can also find Curriculum Materials online.

DC Zoo or Smithsonian National Zoological Park – As a family we have visited the DC Zoo quite a few times. The DC Zoo really is a great place to visit. The animals have lovely habitats and the walk around the zoo (while it can be a little hard while pushing a double stroller up a hill) is nice. Admission to the Zoo is free, however if you want to park there there is a charge. You can visit the zoo by car, bike, bus, or metro and it is open 364 days a year – the zoo is closed on Christmas.

Here are some activity sheets that you can download – I found these links on the National Zoo Website, but I put them here to make it a little easier for you to find them.

The last time that we were at the zoo there was a discovery center in the back of the Visitors Center where the kids could take care of stuffed animals, build habitats, and be zoo keepers fixing meals.  I have looked and looked, but I cannot find anything about this on their website. So either, they are no longer doing this, or it’s not well publicize, so when you visit the zoo, go into the visitor’s center and ask about it. If it’s still there, it’s down the hall from the Gift Shop – if you find out, can you please let me know. It was really cool so I hope it’s still there!

Field Trip Tip – A fun way to get around DC and save on parking is to take the Metro. The metro allows you to travel from outside the city (from either your hotel or a parking area) to almost anywhere in the city. You will want to go online and familiarize yourself with the rail system if you are not already familiar with it, but it really is quite simple to use and it’s fun for the kids.

Here are a few other places that you might like to visit. Bear in mind that some museums, like the Natural History Museum, may have things that are not in line with your ideals and teachings, you can choose to either skip those museums or use them as a teaching experience.

Where you like to visit when you go to DC? Do you have a favorite place to stay? Have you seen the Marine Corp Silent Drill Team – they are amazing! How about visiting when the cherry blossoms bloom? I look forward to hearing from you.

mcrooker – homeschoolerontheedge