Washington, D.C. city skyline

How to Plan a Class Trip to Washington, D.C.

By Travel

There’s no question: Washington DC is one of the most important places in the country. As the home of our government, countless national monuments and historical and cultural attractions, and known as the museum capital of the country, there are few places in the United States better suited for an educational tour than Washington DC.

But with so many sights to see and educational opportunities to engage with, it can feel like an overwhelming task planning a class trip to the nation’s capital. How do you squeeze in everything you want your students to learn in the little time you get to experience it?

In this guide from our professional class trip planners at Junior Tours, we lay out the step-by-step process to help equip any teacher with the tools to plan the awesome trip in Washington DC their class deserves.

Step 1: Plan the Essentials Far in Advance

Ask yourself:

  • How do I plan a trip to Washington DC?
  • How long does it take to tour Washington DC?
  • How much does the average Washington DC school trip cost?

Like any trip, the first thing you need to do is plan the essentials far in advance. No parent will want to send their kid on a trip that doesn’t have an airtight schedule and itinerary, and the only way to achieve that is with months of careful planning. Don’t show up to class two weeks before the proposed trip and spring it on your students – your trip should be planned months in advance.

Whether you decide to plan your educational tour with our team at Junior Tours or on your own, we can guarantee one thing: the quality of your trip all depends on your planning of the essential details. These are the details you will need to present to students and parents months before the trip to convince them to sign on.

  • Length: Figure out the exact time you and your class can take away from school to tour DC. This depends on a number of factors, such as what attractions you and your class want to see, the time the school will let your class stay on trips, and the quality of your itinerary. A short tour can last 2-4 days, while a more thorough tour of Washington, D.C. with Gettysburg and Williamsburg can take up to a whole week.
  • Cost: Cost will always be a big issue for many students and parents, and keeping costs low without sacrificing the quality of the trips is a balancing act that takes many trip-planning experiences to perfect. The age and interests of your students is important here, as this will determine the kind of activities that will interest them, and the prices those activities will cost.
  • Theme: What’s the theme of your trip? Is it a general learning experience where you will try to cover an overview of the most interesting subjects that the museums and attractions of Washington, D.C. offer, such as the National Museum of American History? Or is it more centered on a certain subject; politics, history, culture, art, or something else? While you don’t have to plan your hour-by-hour itinerary several months before the trip, it is crucial to have an idea of what you want the trip to be about.

Step 2: Try to Contact Your State’s Political Representatives

Ask yourself:

  • What do I want my students to learn from this trip?
  • Who are the political representatives of our state?
  • What can our political representatives teach my students?

Washington DC is the home of political representatives, from congressmen and congresswomen to senators, and each state has their own representatives. While they tend to live busy lives, they are always happy to offer up a possible group tour opportunity or meeting, led by them personally or their team.

Some tours, such as the Capitol tour and the White House Washington tour, require the help of a political representative to book for your class, so getting in contact with them as early as possible is important. You want to make sure you call or email them early enough that they can clear up their schedule for the school trip dates, and so they can reserve certain venues and prepare meeting rooms for your students.

Help your students realize their political aspirations by getting them face-to-face with someone from their own state.

Step 3: Plan the Itinerary

Ask yourself: 

  • What are the most important attractions in Washington DC?
  • What topics should my students learn about?
  • What are the most highly rated museums?

Now that you know your desired trip length, the desired cost and budget for your students, and the theme you want to plan your learning experiences around, it’s time to start planning the itinerary. And yes – we mean an actual hour-by-hour breakdown of every day you spend in Washington DC.

This can be pretty intimidating, but here are a few pointers:

1) Don’t over-schedule

Many first-time school trip planners make the mistake of over-scheduling their days. We know you do this with good intentions; maybe you wanted the trip to last another 2-3 days but the school administration or parents association wouldn’t budge, so you are trying to make up for it by squeezing in as many museums and attractions as you can.

But you want your students to have time and truly embrace every stop you take. Learning requires reflection, and when you quickly usher students from one place to another, you leave them no time to reflect on what they see. Try to give each museum at least 3 hours minimum; bigger museums should be given 4-5 hours.

2) Visualize your actual route

In our eagerness to make the most interesting trip possible, we as educators tend to go for the biggest national attractions and monuments, putting them on the itinerary willy-nilly. The problem with this? We forget that the more places you put on the itinerary, the more you force your class to travel around from one place to another.

This means it’s important to visualize your actual route. You don’t want your first stop to be on the other side of the city from your second stop, and your third stop to be right next to your first stop. Think of the layout of your itinerary, and prepare it out place by place.

3) Tell an overarching story

Whether you are sticking to a certain subject or just giving your students a general learning breakdown, you want to make sure that the trip tells an overarching story with an overarching learning experience.

While two museums may not have anything to do with each other, you want to plan your days in a way that students will sit back and ask themselves: do they relate? At the end of the day, these learning experiences are all about teaching your students to think, using the information we give them to stimulate their own imagination.

When it comes to planning the places you visit, you will find that Washington DC is known as the national capital of museums for a very good reason: there are countless museums, memorials, and other attractions in Washington DC like the Lincoln Memorial that offer free admission, and they are all worthy of your time. It’s up to you and your students’ interests to just pick and choose places and events.

Some awesome memorials and museums include:

  • National War Memorials – Korean War Veterans Memorial, World War II Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial
  • National Influential Individual Memorials – Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial
  • Washington Monument
  • Smithsonian Museums
  • National Mall
  • National Gallery of Art
  • National Museum of American History
  • National Museum of Natural History
  • National Air & Space Museum
  • National Gallery of Art
  • National Museum of African American History and Culture
  • Spy Museum
  • U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

You also want to make sure that your trip isn’t just museums and memorials, but actual places where the bills and laws of our country are made. Giving your students the experience of being in the places where bills are written and laws are passed can be a once-in-a-lifetime feeling for them. Try to schedule tours of the Capitol Building through the Capitol Visitors Center, as well as the Eastern Market.

Step 4: Prepare Your Students

Ask yourself:

  • What should I pack for a school trip to Washington DC?
  • What do my students already know about Washington DC?
  • What social and cultural elements should my students know to best absorb learning during the trip?

In some cases, student groups travel all the way to Washington DC with students who know very little (or nothing at all!) of what Washington DC represents. Some teachers avoid teaching their students more than a general overview of Washington DC because they are going on a trip to D.C. anyway.

But this is a wrong way in approaching this. Your students should have a foundation of Washington, D.C. knowledge; its culture, its history, and what it represents today. Their trip in DC should be a learning experience that builds upon existing knowledge; you don’t want them spending their first day or two just getting up to speed.

And of course, prepare your students for what they need to pack. Make sure they all have light and small backpacks for the day trips, where they can bring their essentials for any activities you might prepare – a notebook, a pen, and their phone for emergencies.

They might also want to bring a jacket or light sweater wherever they go, especially if your trip is in the fall or winter. And finally – no heels. Wear comfortable shoes you can spend a whole day walking in.

Step 5: Work with Junior Tours for a Perfect Trip

Ask yourself:

  • Have I ever planned a successful overnight class trip before?
  • Can I make sure that the itinerary, accommodations, tickets, and every other detail flawless?
  • Can I offer my students a better learning experience with professional help?

As long-time educators, we understand the desire to plan the perfect class trip for your students, and doing it on your own can lead to major headaches. With so many things to plan and organize and track, as well as executing the trip to perfection, planning a school trip can be your own personal nightmare.

With Junior Tours, we will handle all the heavy lifting and all the legwork. Our professional team of tour planners have been working with students, schools, and educators for decades, over thousands of school trips all across the United States and abroad. Planning and executing a trip that moves along as smoothly as possible while ensuring that every minute is spent learning or having fun is our forte.

Stop Googling “how to plan a class trip to Washington DC” and just work with people who have done it a thousand times before. If you are planning a class trip to the nation’s capital or anywhere else, contact us at Junior Tours today and find out exactly why we are America’s favorite educational tour planners.

New York City skyline

6 Coolest High School Senior Trip Ideas: NYC

By Travel

New York City is arguably the most exciting city in the world, and when planning a high school senior trip to New York, it can be easy to get lost with the countless attractions and places to do and see. It would take months if not years to truly experience New York at its fullest, but with only a few days, you want to make sure every minute counts.

Here are the 6 coolest ideas and places to visit for any high school senior class trip to New York City:

  1. The Statue of Liberty
  2. Central Park
  3. Little Italy
  4. Metropolitan Museum of Art
  5. Times Square
  6. Six Flags Great Adventure

Read below as we dive into each place, explaining exactly what makes these locations awesome choices for a high school senior trip!

1) The Statue of Liberty

Statue of LibertyYou can’t imagine New York City without visualizing the Statue of Liberty holding her iconic torch over the cityscape. The Statue of Liberty is one of New York’s most popular tourist destinations, with over four million visitors per year checking out the national icon.

One of the best parts about visiting Liberty Island and Ellis Island is that it gives you a chance to take your seniors out on a ferry, which might be a first for many of them. While you can take your seniors to both islands on your own, there are plenty of guided tours available that run daily.

And if you’re really trying to get your money’s worth, this area is actually one of six stops on the official New York City Pass, which includes the 9/11 Memorial building. This symbol of freedom, hope, and new beginnings is a must-see, and for high school seniors, the trip to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island is one they’ll never forget.

Fun Facts:

  • Visitors were once permitted to climb up to the torch, until the Black Tom incident in 1916, when the Black Tom island was blasted by 2 million tons of TNT and similar explosives
  • The “spikes” on top of the statue’s crown are actually supposed to represent a halo
  • The statue was originally the color of a penny, and turned greenish-blue after its first 20 years

2) Central Park

Central Park in NYCCentral Park is so much more than just a park, but even as it is, it’s already a sight to behold: 843 acres of delicate, untouched nature, with a lake sitting in the middle of it, right in the heart of Manhattan.

With ball fields, skating rinks, meadows, hills, playgrounds, and awesome attractions like the Central Park Zoo, Belvedere Castle, and Strawberry Fields, you can spend an entire week roaming the destination and not see the same thing twice.

Be sure to begin your trip by picking up a free offer map from the visitor center. It’s then up to you and your class to decide if you want to explore it on your own with a walking route, or join up with one of the many daily tours.

So what can you do specifically? If you are looking for more than just a nice walk through nature in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the world, the area offers a ton of activities to do and places to explore, such as:

  • Central Park Zoo: Over 100 animal species from various ecosystems and habitats call the Central Park Zoo home. From penguins to monkeys, polar bears to red pandas the Delacorte Clock to the 4D Theater, you will have an awesome time at this zoo.
  • Conservatory Garden: With thousands upon thousands of shrubs and trees, the Conservatory Garden is the true “formal garden”, with a calmer and more peaceful atmosphere than the rest of the area. This six-acre space is a frequent venue for weddings and other formal events, with sections divided for English, Italian, and French style gardens.
  • Loeb Boathouse: With the lake comes its own boathouse, where you can have a nice meal or drink at the restaurant by the water’s edge, or even rent your own boat and take a tour on the lake itself.

Fun Facts: 

  • It used to be a place of rocks, swamps, and terrible soil. About half a million cubic feet of soil was imported from the closest place they could find great soil – New Jersey
  • Due to budget cuts, the Park has had a few decades where mismanagement and bureaucratic issues contributed to the location almost falling into chaos, in the 30s and the 70s. Thankfully, fundraising bodies kept it alive through tough times
  • It was once home to thousands of sheep in the large Sheep Meadow area, from the 1860s until just after the Great Depression

3) Little Italy

Little Italy NYCBordered by SoHo, Tribeca, Lower East Side, Chinatown, and NoLita, it would be easy to understand if Little Italy could be forgotten about, with so many iconic downtown Manhattan neighborhoods around it. But Little Italy remains one of the most popular tourist destinations in New York City, and for good reason.

New York Italians played a huge part in shaping New York as we know it today, and there is nothing more Italian American than Little Italy. The neighborhood got its name due to the many Sicilian and Neapolitan immigrants that moved into the area in the 1880s. That Italian influence has lived on, morphing into a uniquely Italian New York experience that you can’t see, feel, or taste anywhere else.

So what is there to see and do in Little Italy? While Little Italy has recently shrunk because of the expansion of Chinatown, there is still plenty of Italian American authenticity to be seen and tasted down these streets to make all tourists on trips more than content. Some popular places include:

  • Di Palo’s: Di Palo’s is a grocery store that many consider the heart of Italian New York living. Just stepping in and taking a whiff of the air in the store is enough to breathe in an entire culture, with prosciutto bread, hand pulled mozzarella, and many other staple ingredients that make this place one of the few grocery stores that regularly has a line outside the door.
  • Grotta Azzurra: If you only have time for one restaurant for the “true Italian American experience”, then you’ve got to check out Grotta Azzurra. With a bustling atmosphere with bright lights and loud guests, this restaurant is a memorial, perfectly capturing the family-friendly attitude while serving up rustic and classic dishes that you won’t forget.
  • Italian American Museum: If you are looking for more than just food, the Italian American Museum is a must-see, with a photo gallery of the history and life of Little Italy. Unfortunately, the venue is currently under renovation and won’t be open until Spring 2021.
  • Rossi E and Company: Italian gifts, souvenirs, and novelties. For tourists looking to take home a piece of Little Italy with them, Rossi E and Company offers much better souvenirs than a perfect breadstick from your favorite Italian restaurant.

Fun Facts: 

  • Little Italy’s Lombardi’s Pizza is known as the first official US pizzeria, first opening its doors back in 1905
  • That spaghetti and meatballs dish you love so much? That was actually an invention of Little Italy’s southern Italian population!
  • The Italian American Museum is home to the famous Matteo family puppet shows, which entertained residents and visitors of New York from the 1920s to the 1950s

4) Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art entrancePopularly known as the Met, the Metropolitan Museum of Art is one of the great wonders of the 21st century, housing perhaps the most massive collection of history under a single roof.

What’s great about the Met is that it has something for every senior in your class – no matter what part of history interests them the most, the Met has something to show. There is no other place on earth where you can experience tours on Egyptian tombs, Renaissance paintings, and Japanese samurai armor in a single day.

With thousands of pieces to see, it can be easy to get lost and miss the most popular attractions. Here are three rooms you need to explore during any Met trips. But with so many things to see, we advise you take several trips if you have the time:

  • Asian Art Collection: The Asian Art Collection takes up several mezzanine galleries, and for good reason. Displaying Asian art over various centuries and cultures, your senior students can see depictions of Asian life, culture, and religion (particularly Buddha) over huge spans of recorded human history. One stand-out piece is the “Water Stone” fountain by Isamu Noguchi.
  • The Temple of Dendur: Step into the only complete Egyptian Temple you can find in the Western Hemisphere at the Temple of Dendur. Originally built over 2000 years ago in ancient Egypt, the temple was disassembled after it was flooded, and given to the United States as a gift of recognition for their assistance.
  • The Greek and Roman Sculpture Court: As a hallmark of Western civilization, no senior student will ever find themselves bored surrounded by Greek and Roman sculptures and statues. This two-story hall is filled with objects from the ancient Greek and Roman empires, with statues, fountains, and an Etruscan chariot.

Fun Facts:

  • One of the many historical artifacts in the Met is the oldest surviving piano in the world. This piano made by Bartolomeo Cristofori – the original Italian inventor of the piano – was built in 1720
  • Do your senior students love fashion? The Met is home to perhaps the biggest fashion-history collection in the world, with over 33,000 historical and cultural pieces of clothing and accessories from all over the world
  • The NYC Met is one of the most popular museums in the world, with recent reports revealing over 7 million people taking trips to visit annually

5) Times Square

Times Square New York CityYou can’t make a list of the coolest destinations in NYC without including the one and only Times Square! What first time visitors of NYC are always surprised to learn is that Times Square isn’t actually a square – the area is the four quarters between Broadway and 7th Avenue’s intersection in Midtown Manhattan.

Aside from the glitz and glamour of Broadway, shopping, and awesome billboards, there are tons of attractions and things a group of eager students can see and do in what is known as the “crossroads of the world”.

Enjoy food from all over the world from one of the many NYC food trucks and food stands around the area; sit in on a taping of a popular talk show; listen to the gospel choir at the Times Square Church; interact with the many costumed cartoon characters like Elmo; check out the midnight moment, or the greatest digital art exhibition in the world from 11:57 to midnight every night.

Need more ideas on what to do? Check out the official NYC Information Center for Times Square here.

Fun Facts:

  • Times Square was originally known as Longacre Square, but was renamed to Times Square when The New York Times moved its main offices to the area in 1904
  • There is a law that states that every building around Times Square must have a certain minimum display lighting at all times, to maintain the flashy and glitzy look
  • The biggest crowd Times Square has ever seen was two million people, when people gathered in the square to celebrate the end of World War II on August 14, 1945

6) Six Flags Great Adventure

Six Flags Great Adventure fun park NYCIf you want to top off your New York trip with something even your most stubborn seniors will absolutely love, then why not take them over for a Six Flags Great Adventure trip?

Located just between NYC and Philadelphia, Six Flags Great Adventure has 13 rollercoasters and 2 water rides, and operates for most of the year, between March and January.

Fun Facts:

  • The NYC destination first opened in 1974, and was bought by Six Flags in 1977
  • There are eleven themed areas in the park, including Fantasy Forest, the Golden Kingdom, Boardwalk, and more
  • Six Flags Great Adventure & Safari is the second in size only to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, taking up over 475 acres

Plan Your High School Senior Trip with Junior Tours

Thinking of planning a high school senior class trip or tour to NYC (or anywhere else), and feeling a little lost? Junior Tours is here to help! We’ve been assisting schools, teachers, and classes for decades, taking care of all the essentials to create the perfect school tours and trips.

Whether you are heading to New York, Washington D.C., Canada, or even abroad, we can help you from top to bottom, managing everything from your accommodations to your transportation and even layout every step of your itinerary. We’ll help you plan trips to historic and cultural hearts of the city, from the 9/11 Memorial building to Broadway and everything in between.

Contact us at Junior Tours today, and let us help you create a trip and tour your senior class will never forget!

The US Memorial Holocaust Museum

Preparing Your Students for the US Memorial Holocaust Museum Field Trip

By Travel

As one of the most terrifying and significant events of modern history, the Holocaust is a period that should never be forgotten. With an ethnic cleansing of millions of Jews in the concentration camps and battlefields across German-occupied Europe, the Holocaust can be unfathomable to young people today, which is why it is important to properly prepare students for the reality of what truly occurred during this event.

In preparation for your student tour at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, teachers and school administrators should make a point to situate students in a mindset where they can thoroughly understand and absorb what occurred. Only with sufficient background and explanation of 20th century history can students fully appreciate the tragedy of the Holocaust.

Bring the Past to the Forefront

Make Them See and Feel It as a Tragedy of Today

Holocaust Museum insideWhen teaching history to children and young adults, the greatest hurdle that teachers have to overcome is bridging the past to the present. It can be easy for students to space out whenever we start discussing acts that happened decades before they were born, as they have no personal way to relate to a time so alien to the lives they know.

The goal of your teaching preparation should be to bring the past to the forefront – give your students the tools to imagine and visualize the Holocaust in its correct context, and how those situations can be transposed to the world they know today. This can be done in three steps.

Step 1: Lay Down the Chronology from Then to Now

The gap between the past and the present is the biggest issue standing in the way of students understanding an event for what it really is, rather than ignoring it because it’s “something that happened a long time ago so who cares.”

Think of it like two islands – the deeds of World War II are one island, and the present is the island you and your students are standing on. Your students currently have difficulty caring about learning about the first island, because they’ve never been there and they don’t see a way to get there.

So build the bridge – lay down the chronology as a bridge from the first island to the second island, or the past to the present. Write a horizontal line on the board with a mark for every 5 years between 1935 and 2019. Then – as either an in-class project or an assignment studies – assign each student to collect 5 significant global and cultural events and their assigned year.

When everyone has their information, have the class write their chosen historical milestones on their designated year – 1940, 1945, 1950, 1955, 1960, 1965, 1970, and so on, until the present.

Then ask each student to stand in front of class and explain their assigned year, starting from 2019 and working your way back to 1935. Remember to remind your class to include moments that they are already familiar with – the release of a hit song or movie, the year their parents were born, and so on.

The purpose of this activity is to give students a visualization of modern history from a perspective they can understand. While they probably already know the significant parts of American modern history – the assassination of JFK, the moon landing, Woodstock – they haven’t had a chance to piece it together, step by step.

You want them to start saying, “Those two people lived at the same time?!”, or, “That was only five years before that?” Slowly but surely, they will realize that the atrocities of the Holocaust aren’t so far away as they thought.

Step 2: Explore the Era Before It Happened

After building a bridge back to the past, allowing students to visualize how then evolved into now, you want to further humanize an event that is completely alien to our modern sensibilities.

A major difficulty in teaching the Holocaust to teens and young adults is that students think of it more as a dark work of fiction rather than a real piece of history, and the reason for this is the absolute inhumanity of Adolf Hitler and the German Nazi party. Because of the gravity and immensity of the tragedy, it can be easier to compare Hitler to Thanos rather than a modern-day politician.

And this is problematic for several reasons. Firstly, students must understand that the purpose of learning history and remembering tragedies such as the Holocaust is not simply to honor the lives of the victims, but to ensure that similar situations do not happen again. If they cannot see the tragedy as a real part of history, then they cannot internalize the need to fear of it possibly repeating itself.

Secondly, when students start imagining the Holocaust, World War II, and the Nazi party as series of fictional events, then they don’t find themselves asking – how did this happen, and what was the rest of the world doing to let this happen?

Students must be given a general breakdown of the acts that happened in the decades before the first victim was gassed in a German concentration camp. While some may suggest recounting the timeline of the 1930s, other experts believe that it is important to go back as far as the 1800s, beginning with the writings of Friedrich Nietzsche (which partly inspired Hitler and the Nazi party).

From Nietzsche and the übermensch, to World War I and the Treaty of Versailles, to personal accounts of Germans and Jews in the 1920s and 1930s, and ideally including The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank.

It is important to reach far back, to teach students that even innocuous acts that happen decades apart can have significant underpinnings on major historical movements. This lesson teaches them to look more closely at their world today, and realize that just because there are no major tragedies directly affecting them right now, doesn’t mean the foundations of a future movement aren’t already being set up.

Step 3: Review What is Happening Today

The tour of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, will give your students a complete and detailed exploration of the events of World War II and the German Holocaust. Your students will receive no better explanation and understanding of the Holocaust than during your museum visit.

As their teacher, it is your responsibility to ensure that they are prepared to process the immensity of the Holocaust at the museum, and secondly, to ensure that they can use this knowledge proactively for their present and future.

It is no secret that we live in tense times, and whatever the personal politics of your students, it is crucial that you teach them to challenge what they believe in, challenge what others tell them is right, and, if necessary, challenge the possible foundations being set up for tragedies of tomorrow.

To do this, you want your students to think of historical moments as puzzles. This means teaching them about all the factors that contributed to the road to the Holocaust, and thinking of those factors as conceptualized pieces rather than historical events. It means identifying the ingredients that are required to create a society that falls into the madness of ethnic cleansing. Ingredients such as:

  • The unfairness felt by the Germans caused by the Treaty of Versailles
  • The conceptual twisting of philosophical concepts by the Nazi party
  • The gradual acceptance of anti-immigrant tendencies
  • The appeasement of other countries to Hitler and the Nazi party

And more. Once these are broken down to their core, apolitical ingredients, students should then be asked: what is going on today, in our own country and around the world? How can these concepts be applied to the modern world studies, and how are they different and yet still the same with the modern challenge?

Students should walk away from their experience not only grieving the victims of the Holocaust, but thinking of the signs that they can see today.

Prepare for the Museum Tour: Activities and Resources

In addition to our three-step learning process described above, we would like to share the museum activities and resources recommended by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC for students preparing to visit, specifically the permanent exhibition museum.

Students should be familiar with the general outline of the tour so they know what to expect from the tour experience. Before any tour, it is important that teachers assign group leaders to better organize the museum tour and distribute notes and information.

Identification Cards

When visiting the Permanent Exhibition at the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC, museum visitors are given identification cards to help further situate the acts of the Holocaust. The identification cards detail the life and experience of a victim of the Holocaust.

As an activity, teachers are encouraged to ask students to share the information of their individual identification cards, which should list the age, occupation, family background, religion, and other history of the person.

Students can also be encouraged to research the daily existence in the concentration or death camps, as well as the few resistance groups that existed independent of the opposing armies. Encourage them to include video clips, maps, news articles, and photographs in their research.

Teachers may download a sample set of identification cards for study prior to their visit on the official museum website.

Exhibition Narrative

For teachers that want their students to be absolutely ready for the tour, the permanent exhibition narrative is also available for download on the official museum website.

We recommend distributing copies of this outline to your class prior to your museum trip, and asking them to bring their copy along so they can follow more closely during the tour and make notes if desired.

Historical Image Interpretation

The memorial museum is home to a collection of nearly a thousand artifacts, including objects, documents, films, photographs, and more items relevant to and involved in the Holocaust. To give your students a complete understanding of what life was like during these times, it can help to prepare them with some examples of historical images prior to your museum visit.

In this official museum activity sheet, students are supplied with historical photographs involving the Nazi party and the Holocaust, and reflective questions to help them interpret and understand what was going on. These questions include:

  •     Who are they and what are they doing?
  •     What do you think might be happening outside the frame of the photograph?
  •     How are the individuals in the photograph using the objects?

Frequently Asked Student Questions

Holocaust Memorial Museum insideTo further prepare your students for the program, we have compiled some of the most common museum questions that students ask at the United States Memorial Holocaust Museum followed by their appropriate answers.

Why did the Nazis single out the Jews?

The Nazis’ believed that racial struggle was one of the biggest issues facing human history. Their widespread antisemitism was fueled by their belief that Jews had a genetically-passed down desire for world domination, which would cause the destruction of the German-Aryan race.

They also saw the Jews as an inferior race, who had control over worldwide mass media and finances and would use these to support inferior races and Communist uprisings.

What happened if you were a Nazi or German who disobeyed the Nazi Party?

While Germans who disobeyed the commands of the Nazi party were not outwardly punished, they were socially punished by their peers and colleagues. This would put them at a personal disadvantage in their career and their social life. If a soldier refused to participate in the death camps, they could be demoted and moved to lesser responsibilities, such as crowd control and guard duty.

Why didn’t the Jews leave before they were rounded up in camps?

A common misconception today is that the Jews were immigrants in Germany, but this is not the case. Many of the Jews in Germany at the time considered themselves German – they had German citizenship, their families had lived in Germany for centuries, and over 10,000 German Jews died for Germany fighting in the First World War. Up until it was too late, most German Jews believed that German politics would change positively.

Secondly, German Jews who decided to leave the country had much difficulty finding a new place to settle their family. Too many obstacles – including money, collection of paperwork, and time – prevented most German Jews from even considering leaving. Only a Jew with a high-achieving career such as a professor or a scientist could find easy ways to leave.

Plan Your Next Tour With Junior Tours Today

If you are a teacher, university professor, or school administrator looking to plan a student trip to United States Memorial Holocaust Museum in Washington DC or other museums and places around the United States and abroad, then Junior Tours is the partner you need to make it happen.

Junior Tours has helped thousands of student groups over the years plan educational and exciting trips all over the US and abroad. We handle everything – from booking your tickets online to making sure every minute of your trip is packed with activities and learning experiences.

Contact us online or call us today and see how we can help you with your next student trip!

Young girl traveler walking with carrying hold suitcase in the airport

How to Win Travel Scholarships for High School Students

By Travel

There is perhaps no better time in all of human history to be a young, active, eager student than right now. Why? With the internet, a globalized learning environment, various exchange program opportunities, and travel methods that can get you to the other side of the world in 24 hours, there are literally thousands of opportunities for interested students to travel and study abroad.

However, traveling and studying abroad can be expensive, even if you just intend to stay for a short time. Thankfully, there are plenty of travel scholarships available for students willing to put in the work and apply.

So how can a high school student win travel scholarships to study abroad? Winning a student scholarship or travel grant requires maturity, patience, and perseverance. It’s all about putting in the legwork to send in applications, proving that you as a student are deserving of a scholarship or grant, and defining your goals and interests to create the best applications possible.

In this article we discuss everything you need to know about high school travel grants, where to find them, and our best tips on winning them. Follow our advice and you will be studying abroad in no time.

What is a High School Travel Scholarship?

A high school travel scholarship (also known as a high school travel grant) is something that many high schoolers and their parents are unaware of, but these do actually exist. These scholarships are granted to high school students who actively seek to expand their cultural and global education, providing them the resources and program necessary to help them travel for scholarly pursuits.

Various organizations, both domestic and municipal, offer some forms of travel scholarships. These scholarships allow students to fund any potential school or subject international travel opportunities, opening doors for students who would otherwise find themselves unable to pay for the travel costs.

In some cases, students might be required to participate in volunteer work or other study-related stipulations as requirements for their scholarship. However, these are generally well within the capability of students who are eager to seek out new opportunities abroad.

Why Should You Travel During High School?

While some students are more than happy to spend their four years of high school simply going to class and getting good grades, other students understand the importance of seeking out greater opportunities at a young age.

There are many reasons why a high school student should consider applying for a high school scholarship or student travel grant, even if it means being away from home for a few months or up to a year. Some of these reasons include:

  • The chance to immerse yourself in a language study program in foreign countries, truly learning it in a way that is impossible in an hour-long class
  • Open your eyes to a completely new culture, giving yourself a grander scale of the world and its different peoples
  • Expand your personal network to connections in other countries, allowing yourself to become more confident, independent, and understanding of other people

All these qualities and more can help any high school student in their college years and beyond. Not only that, but colleges and universities typically seek out students who have proven to possess a curiosity or eagerness above their peers. Putting yourself out there and going abroad for even a short-term travel opportunity is exactly the kind of point on a college application that can make you stand out.

Where Can I Apply for a High School Travel Scholarship?

Your best bet for finding high school travel scholarships is to speak to your school’s administration such as the guidance counselor, to ask if there are any local scholarships or contest program opportunities, or any history of students from your school being awarded a scholarship or grant.

When researching for travel scholarships, remember to start with any specific interests, subjects, or talents you might have, to find scholarships that are most relevant to you as a student, thus increasing your chances of it being granted to you.

For example, if you play a musical instrument, you might be able to find a scholarship that is aimed towards musically-inclined students; if you are a member of your school’s Model United Nations program, you might find travel scholarships awarded specifically to MUN participants.

Here are a few general providers of high school travel scholarships available for all high school students within the United States. Remember that every scholarship and grant is different, with its own stipulations, requirements, and monetary size.

1) SYTA

The SYTA or the Student Youth Travel Association Foundation is all about helping American high school students develop a greater sense of global awareness. This organization awards hundreds of $1000 scholarships to deserving high school students every year to help them join school travel trips and educational tours.

You can find further details on applying for the SYTA Youth Foundation Road Scholarship here.

2) Rotary International

The Rotary International Club offers one of the biggest travel scholarships out there, with funding programs that grant up to $25,000 for students who need financial aid for international study, paying for tuition costs, room and board, and a monthly stipend for the student’s convenience.

Students are expected to act as ambassadors of their home culture, to share and spread awareness of their culture to their chosen area for travel or study abroad. Thousands of students have benefited from the Rotary Club’s private funding programs, which are awarded through local Rotary branches. Read more about these scholarships here.

3) CIEE

The CIEE or the Council on International Education Exchange offers students the opportunity to earn up to $3000 in grants for international study. They offer a unique opportunity with the CIEE campuses, which are partnered schools and communities that offer the CIEE study abroad experience.

CIEE offers various programs in different countries centered around different subjects and interests, such as the Arts & Sciences program in Seoul, the Global Architecture & Design program in Berlin, the Sustainability & the Environment program in Monteverde, and so many more. Find more information on CIEE’s high school and college study abroad scholarships here.

4) Travelocity

Travelocity offers travel opportunities to students who are willing to volunteer, coining the term “voluntourism”. Through their “Travel for Good” program, Travelocity connects students and adults with volunteer opportunities across the country’s favorite destinations – New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Nashville, and more.

These volunteer opportunities vary from helping dogs at a local shelter to packing lunches for the needy. While not exclusively aimed at students, Travelocity is still a great way for interested learners of all ages to experience traveling across the country while helping local communities.

5) DonorsChoose

For all the teachers out there trying to find ways to help their students, DonorsChoose is an awesome resource to get the help you and your students need. DonorsChoose is a platform that connects teachers with potential financial donors – whether individuals or businesses – who are interested in providing financial aid for certain circumstances.

With a proper proposal describing a fun and engaging travel opportunity for their students, any teacher can earn the attention of an eager financial donor willing to help a class of students realize their high school travel dreams.

Top Tips on Applying and Winning High School Travel Scholarships

happy young traveler winter backgroundAfter you draft up a list of all the potential sources of scholarships and grants, it’s time to send in your applications. But how do you make sure that your application stands out from the dozens, hundreds, or thousands of applications they have to choose from? How can you give your application that extra oomph to earn the travel grant?

We’ve prepared the top tips for applying and winning travel scholarships. But our main tip? Take it seriously. Too many students send in applications that they wrote in an hour or a day, with no extra thought or even a simple proofread.

Remember: this isn’t just a pop quiz to finish before the end of class. Your application will determine whether someone believes you are worth an investment or not. Take yourself seriously, and make it as professional as it can be. Here are our other top tips you can follow:

1) Know What You Want

Every application will ask for something different. One application might ask you a single question about your main interests; another application might make you write five different essays on your goals, your dreams, your intentions, and more.

Questions like these need a level of honesty that you normally never have to open. And in some cases, answering them truthfully requires a kind of self-intimacy that some people have never really tried to access. These are the kinds of questions that require you to look into yourself and answer from the heart.

Why? Because the only way to stand out is to answer in a way that is uniquely you, and that means coming up with not your first, not your second, and perhaps not even your third thought, but the thoughts that only come to the surface when you truly sit down and let yourself think.

So you have to know what you want. Before you start answering these questions, understand yourself and figure out yourself in a way you might have never bothered to before. It might take some time, and it might lead to some frustration. That’s okay – just don’t be impatient, and sooner or later, you will have the answers that no one else can provide.

2) Outline, Budget, and Plan

There is nothing an adult will approve of in a high school student more than preparedness, because frankly (we’ve all been there), kids like winging things, or just dealing with the bridge when they get there.

A great tip we have is to include a specific outline, estimated budget, and possible plan of your trip, and attach it to your application if possible. If you are applying for a $5000 grant, then you should show that you will actually use the $5000 effectively. Figure out:

  • How long your trip will be (a few days, two weeks, a few months, an entire semester)
  • How much it will cost (room and board, daily living expenses, language study costs)
  • Any other expenses or details relevant to your trip

Once you have your outline written down, with the budget laid out and divvied up effectively across the entirety of your trip, you have something in your hands that you can present as your actual case. Instead of looking like a hopeful student, you can look like a prepared one – and which of the two would you think is a more attractive recipient of a scholarship?

3) Apply, Apply, Apply

We get it – there is nothing more disappointing than getting back a rejection letter from your top choice. But you need to think of scholarships as a game of attrition: only the very lucky few get it on their first try. For the vast majority, the best strategy is to apply, apply, and apply.

Keep at it, and don’t let a single rejection or even a dozen rejections stop you. Make a master spreadsheet that can help you keep track of all your scholarships, showing information on the provider of the scholarship, prize money details, the requirements, the deadlines, and other relevant information. These can be organized according to priority, deadlines, or size of the scholarship.

And if you don’t get it this year, don’t lose hope! After all, high school is four years long, right? It can be easy to feel like the world is out to get you and no one wants to lend you a hand if you find yourself receiving one rejection letter after another, but remember: there are hundreds if not thousands of applicants around you. All it takes is one accepted scholarship to get the educational travel trip you want.

Travel with Junior Tours for the Educational Tour of a Lifetime

Ready to start planning your trip? At Junior Tours, we have planned countless trips for students across the country, creating awesome educational tours and study abroad trips that our participating schools and students will never forget.

Contact us today and see how we can help you with your next educational tour.

Toronto city

Top 10 Educational Tours Toronto

By Travel

Thinking about planning an educational tour for your students in Toronto? As one of the premier educational tour organizers in North America, our team at Junior Tours has put together some of the most interesting educational travel spots in Toronto that any group of students can be excited about.

Here’s our top 10 educational tour spots in Toronto:

  • CN Tower
  • Ontario Science Centre
  • Casa Loma Mansion
  • Hockey Hall of Fame
  • Rogers Centre (SkyDome)
  • Toronto Zoo
  • Yorkville
  • Metro Toronto Convention Centre
  • Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
  • Niagara Falls

Read on to see exactly how every place can be an awesome educational travel spot for you and your student group. Enjoy!

10) CN Tower

CN tower TorontoWhat It Is: Perhaps the most recognizable icon of Toronto, the CN Tower rises up to 553.33 meters, or 1815 feet (and 5 inches!). If you’ve seen a picture of Toronto as a city, then you’ve seen the CN Tower. Renowned internationally as a triumph in modern engineering, the CN Tower is a spectacular place to visit for all tourists of coming into Toronto.

If you find yourself heading to CN Tower, some of the attractions you have to see include the Glass Floor, the SkyPod, and the Window Walls, offering visitors a floor-to-ceiling panoramic view of the city below and around them – north, south, east, and west!

What Students Can Learn: Visiting students can visit CN Tower as students of Toronto’s culture or as students of the wonders of modern engineering. Students can also have fun with the Edge Walk, the CN Tower arcade and motion theatre ride, as well as The Height of Excellence film, which documents and explains the historic construction of the ultimate venue in Toronto.

Cool Facts:

  • The CN Tower is home to the highest outdoor walk in the world, at the CN Tower Edge Walk, where visitors can lean over the edge of the building while strapped to a harness
  • As the heart of modern Toronto, the CN Tower plays hosts to over 300 events every year.
  • The CN Tower is home to the award-winning 360 Restaurant

9) Ontario Science Centre

Ontario Science Centre

What It Is: As one of the most famous cultural sites in all of Canada, the Ontario Science Centre has been enriching the education and scientific understanding of students of all ages for over the last 50 years.

The Ontario Science Centre has eight exhibit halls that visitors can explore, hosting a combined 500 interactive experiences on topics of the rainforest, space with a planetarium, and many more.

What Students Can Learn: If you are looking for one of the most popular hotspots of field trips and educational tours in Toronto, then the Ontario Science Centre is the place for you. The centre hosts countless valid student trips every week, with activities for groups ranging from all ages, from the youngest kids to high school seniors.

With a science arcade, the Weston Family Innovation Centre, various special exhibits and demonstrations, art shows, volunteer shows, IMAX movie showings of educational films, and The Maple Leaf Forever Tree, there’s an endless barrage of educational opportunities students can enjoy here.

Cool Facts:

  • The centre is the home of The Maple Leaf Forever Tree, which is a sculpture that took over ten thousand hours to create
  • The centre is now celebrating 50 years of being the heart of science and education in Toronto
  • Students and groups who want more can consider the exploration of day camps and the excitement of sleepovers at the Ontario Science Centre

8) Casa Loma Mansion

Casa Loma Mansion OntarioWhat It Is: Originally constructed in 1914 as a mansion for prominent Canadian financier Sir Henry Pellatt, the Casa Loma mansion now serves as a local historic house museum in Toronto, showing off its Gothic Revival architecture and beautiful gardens.

What Students Can Learn: Designated as a heritage spot by the Ontario Heritage Act in 1987, the Casa Loma mansion is a great place for students of all ages to learn about culture, history, and design in a single location.

The Casa Loma also played a part in many events of the 20th century, including the Prohibition Era of the 1920s, serving as a nightspot and hotel for affluent Americans; World War II, in which it was allegedly used to research and produce sonar devices in a secret facility located behind the stables; and other issues that included potential demolitions, the conversion to a tourist destination, and more.

Cool Facts:

  • Casa Loma means “Hill House” in Spanish
  • The museum was designed and built by E. J. Lennox, who was the main architect for various prominent landmarks in Toronto
  • Casa Loma is one of the most popular wedding spots in Toronto, and it also serves as a popular filming spot for shows and movies 

7) Hockey Hall of Fame

The Hockey Hall of Fame TorontoWhat It Is: The Hockey Hall of Fame is perhaps the biggest and best ice hockey museum and hall of fame in the world, located in the heart of Toronto. Visitors can enjoy over 57,000 square feet of games, theatres, displays, exhibits, interactive activities and more.

What Students Can Learn: A full day of sports history, Canadian history, and Canadian culture is in store for any group of students who visit the Toronto Hockey Hall of Fame, and you don’t necessarily have to be a fan of the sport to get a kick out of the experience. A tour director can guide you and your group around if necessary.

Take pictures with and learn about the Stanley Cup and various other NHL trophies and memorabilia. With rotating exhibits, art installations, and interactive games and activities for experts, fans and non-fans alike, the $20 entrance fee is well worth the price. 

Cool Facts:

  • The first inductees of the Hockey Hall of Fame were introduced in 1945, years before the official Hall of Fame location had been decided
  • 280 players have been inducted into the Hall of Fame (as of 2018)
  • The hall is located inside a historic Bank of Montreal location 

6) Rogers Centre (SkyDome)

The Roger's Centre TorontoWhat It Is: Originally known as SkyDome, Rogers Centre is Downtown Toronto’s multi-purpose stadium that serves as the home of the Toronto Blue Jays of Major League Baseball. As the first fully retractable roofed stadium, Rogers Centre (known formerly as SkyDome) is a cultural and sporting icon in Toronto.

What Students Can Learn: If your students are interested in sports, a tour of Rogers Centre is an excellent place to spend the day. However, even students who aren’t invested in sports can learn tons from a Rogers Centre tour.

The Rogers Centre Tour Experience comes with a tour director, and includes visits to the united media center, luxury suites, team dressing rooms, field areas, and the Blue Jays museum and Hall of Fame, featuring various unearthed artifacts found during initial construction of the dome.

Cool Facts:

  • The original name of Rogers Centre, SkyDome, was chosen by a “name the stadium” event hosted in 1987. Over 150,000 name suggestions were submitted, which a selection of judges narrowed to 4 choices: the Dome, Harbourdome, Towerdome, and SkyDome
  • The SkyDome was renamed Rogers Centre after Rogers Communication acquired SkyDome in 2004, but the name change is a controversial issue for most fans
  • The dome was built after the Premier of Ontario in 1983, Bill Davis, experienced a football game in extremely poor weather, nicknamed “the Rain Bowl”

5) Toronto Zoo

Toronto ZooWhat It Is: The Toronto Zoo is the premier zoo of Canada, and one of the best and most modern zoos not only in North America, but the world. The zoo is divided into seven different regions, grouping animals zoogeographically: Tundra Trek, Indo-Malaya, Canadian Domain, Africa, Eurasia, Australasia, and the Americas.

With over 5000 animals calling the Toronto Zoo home, there are few places in the world better equipped to teach students of all ages the wonders of the animal kingdom.

What Students Can Learn: Toronto Zoo allows students to witness animals in their natural habitats, with observable naturalistic environments in the various animal regions. With the Wildlife Health Centre, Kangaroo Walk-Thru, the Americas Pavilion, the Kids Discovery Zone, and so many other interactive hubs of learning and entertainment, there are endless ways for kids and adults to explore and learn during their zoo exploration.

The Toronto Zoo also puts an emphasis on conservation, and how zoologists and the general public can help improve the way we interact and live with animals. Topics such as habitat and species research, animal reintroduction in their natural environment, and captive breeding are popular areas of discussion and learning at the zoo.

Cool Facts:

  • Encompassing over 700 acres, the Toronto Zoo is one of the largest zoos worldwide
  • In 2015, the Toronto Zoo bred Canada’s first giant panda cubs
  • Some animals aren’t visible from the normal walking paths, and require visitors to ride the Zoomobile

4) Yorkville

Yorkville TorontoWhat It Is: Yorkville is popularly known as a wealthy neighborhood in Toronto, but it is also a place neck-deep in Toronto culture and history.

Visitors of Toronto looking for a lesson of the urban underpinnings and heritage of the city need look no further than Yorkville, which is a popular destination of walking tours for its various art galleries, bars, antique stores, cafes, and more, showing its evolution from Toronto’s counter-culture to area of couture.

What Students Can Learn: A tour of Yorkville can be a full lesson of history or culture and art (or both!), depending on what your group and guide choose to explore. Yorkville in the 1960s was the heart of counter-culture in Toronto, attracting hippies and the Bohemian lifestyle as the rest of the city expanded.

Over time, the infusion of Bohemian lifestyle with Toronto’s economic growth led to the rise of one of the most affluent neighborhoods in the city, which is also home to various celebrities and fine art galleries. Some places you can visit in Yorkville include:

  1. The Bata Shoe Museum
  2. The Gardiner Museum
  3. Canadian Fine Arts Gallery
  4. Royal Ontario Museum
  5. Yorkville Park
  6. Toronto Reference Library

Cool Facts:

  • In 1967, Yorkville activists held a “sleep in” program to make the neighborhood car-free; afterwards, the city enforced a ten in the evening curfew for those younger than 18
  • The first Mr. Sub was opened in Yorkville
  • The first Toronto International Film Festival was held in Yorkville, at the Windsor Arms Hotel in 1976 

3) Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Metro Convention CentreWhat It Is: Located in the heart of downtown Toronto, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (MTCC) is one of the leading areas for conventions and meetings in North America. With a facility that covers more than 2 million square feet, the MTCC is the largest convention centre in Canada, fit for any global company event.

What Students Can Learn: First opened in 1984, with the event conducted by Queen Elizabeth II herself, the MTCC hosts various events and conventions that students from any level and program of interest can find interest in.

Popular annual program events hosted at the MTCC include the Student Life Expo, Art Toronto, iTech, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame Induction Celebrations, and more.

Cool Facts:

  • The South building of the MTCC was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh in 1997
  • To host the largest events in the world, there are over 11,000 hotel rooms within a mile of the convention centre
  • The MTCC serves an average of 3836 cups of coffee per day, or 1.4 million cups of coffee per year

2) Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Ripley's Aquarium TorontoWhat It Is: Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is one of the three huge aquarium parks owned by the Ripley group. Located at the heart of Toronto, Ontario, Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is a popular destination for interest in marine life, featuring various interactive classes and programs that allow students and visitors to interact with different aquatic animals.

What Students Can Learn: This aquatic haven offers a multitude of plans for students and tour groups. Popular activities include the daily dive show, aquarist talks, and various camps they have available for students of all ages, from 5 to 18.

Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada also features meet-and-greet experiences such as the stingray experience and discovery dive. Photography classes are available for up-and-coming biologists and photographers who have a keen eye for detail.

Cool Facts:

  • Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is the largest indoor aquarium in Canada
  • They also host the biggest shark collection in North America, including fan favorites such as the hammerhead shark to more obscure ones like the green sawfish
  • Indoor exhibits hold hundreds and thousands of liters of water. The Canadian Waters gallery totals over 665,000 liters of water, while The Great lakes and Pacific Kelp exhibits use 100,000 liters and 360,000 liters of water respectively

1) Niagara Falls

Niagara FallsWhat It Is: If you’re visiting Toronto and you’re staying for enough days to have an experience to last a lifetime, then head on over to Niagara Falls and witness one of the greatest natural wonders of North America.

Head on over to Clifton Hill before or after your visit, and check out the rides, attractions, and world-famous restaurants and awesome meals to keep you and your group entertained.

What Students Can Learn: A visit to Niagara Falls is as much a learning experience as it is an experience to carry with you for the rest of your life.

With various activities around the falls – Horseshoe Falls being the most impressive of the three falls, Maid of the Mist boat ride to truly get into the roar of the falls, Welland Ship Canal (one of the greatest man-made wonders of the world), the Old Fort Niagara steeped in history – any group of students can find immense value with a visit to these amazing falls.

Cool Facts:

  • Niagara Falls is monstrous in size, with over 4 million cubic feet of water falling over its crest every single minute
  • The Falls were formed by 10,000-year-old glacier activity
  • It is estimated that Niagara Falls will erode away in just about 50,000 years, giving present visitors just enough time to check it out

Plan Your Educational Tour with Junior Tours Today

Junior Tours prides itself on being a family-run company with decades of expertise in building customized tours for schools and groups looking for educational travel opportunities. Our experts understand the value of tours that emphasize the fun of learning about local culture, art, history, and more.

Junior Tours is the ideal organizer for the most complete and fulfilling tours you and your students will ever enjoy. Read our site to find out more, or contact us at 1-800-631-2241 today!