Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

5 Virtual Field Trips to Take With Your Social Studies Class

5 Virtual Field Trips to Take With Your Social Studies Class

By William Campione

Time and budget constraints have made field trips a thing of the past for many of us. This valuable teaching tool awakened students’ curiosity, making instant, real-world connections to the content.

While funding has rendered field trips nearly obsolete, technology has made taking a trip easier than ever while remaining inside your classroom. Check out these fun virtual field trips that can be experienced in a whole group environment or at individual workstations.

1. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Students can take a self-guided tour of every room in the museum, with “hotspots” where they can get a close up of a particular object. There’s even a mobile site, if your school has a Bring Your Own Device Policy.

Students can zoom in to exhibits such as the Mammal Hall and the Egyptian Mummies, getting close enough to replicate being there in person. Past exhibits are also showcased, so students can look in on Cyprus, Western Cultures and other works that have been removed.

More: 5 Steps to Bring BYOD Into Your Classroom

2. The White House

This interactive virtual tour of the President’s residence is truly something to see. Simply click on the room or area of the grounds that you’d like to “visit” and a photo and text description appears.

There are also behind the scenes videos chronicling different aspects of life and work at the White House, as well as a gallery of the art and décor of the building. Take a tour of each room of the West Wing with an accompanying history of its use.

3. The National World War II Museum

Virtual field trips to this New Orleans museum are also structured learning activities. All trips include curriculum materials that allow students to analyze maps, photographs, artifacts, posters, speeches and songs, while being led by a museum educator. There’s a small fee for each trip, but your students will get a 1-hour guided tour of this artifact filled museum, and a lesson that elevates their critical thinking and analysis.

The National World War II Museum is at the forefront of distance learning, also offering webinars and Skype in the Classroom programs that open their doors to students and teachers from all over the world.

More: How to Use Mystery Skype as a Classroom Tool

4. Gettysburg 360

This beautifully crafted virtual tour presented by the Civil War Trust shows panoramic views of the Gettysburg battlefield; simply click on markers for a photo and text explanation of the area. There are also videos with expert description of details of the landmarks and battlefields.

The website also provides resources for other Civil War battles, including animated maps and primary sources. The Civil War Trust offers an educator’s guide to help make the most of their resources.

5. Interactive Tour of Ellis Island

Scholastic uses historical photographs, film footage, and oral histories to trace the path of immigrants into America. The tour follows ten different “stops” on an immigrant’s journey, including the Registry Room, the Medical Exam, and the Kissing Post. Scholastic also offers a computer lab activity titled “Immigration: Stories of Yesterday and Today,” which offers insight on why people came, and continue to come, to America.

Budget restrictions do not necessarily mean that your students can’t have rich and diverse experiences beyond the walls of their school. Take a virtual trip and show them the world! For more ideas on how to bring museums, landmarks, and other historical sites to your computer screen, check out 10 YouTube Channels for the Social Studies Classroom.

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