If you are a 5th grade teacher covering the American Revolutionary War, virtual field trips are a great activity to bring history to life for students. When our students understand the physical characteristics and locations of places, can make connections, and understand that there are multiple perspectives to historical events, they are more likely to dig deeper, ask questions, and lead their own learning.
Virtual field trips are a great way to spark curiosity while providing an opportunity for students take ownership in their learning. These are not gamified digital activities, but are a learning tool that provide clickable links to Google Earth 360-degree imagery, short video clips, informational text, and response questions that lead students through the trip in a purposeful and meaningful way.
I've put together 4 virtual field trips that are a great addition to any Revolutionary War unit.
Lexington & Concord Virtual Field Trip
You might kick off your unit with the Lexington and Concord virtual field trip to get students engaged and interested in the unit of study. Within this digital activity, students will use Google Earth 360-degree panoramic views, short video clips, and informational text to learn about the Battles of Lexington and Concord.
It is important for students to learn that there are multiple perspectives to historical events. Acknowledging Native lands and the lasting impacts that European contact has had on Indigenous peoples is one aspect that should not be overlooked. Each virtual field trip begins with land recognition.
The Lexington & Concord virtual field trip integrates various maps to help students grasp the geographic location of events. This trip covers the midnight ride of Paul Revere, William Dawes, and Samuel Prescott with a look at the Old North Church. Students will view Lexington Green, Buckman Tavern, the Old North Bridge, Concord, and the Minuteman Statue. All of the virtual field trips include short answer critical thinking questions.
Fort Ticonderoga Virtual Field Trip
With a tour of Fort Ticonderoga, students learn how this fort was important to the British, the French, and the Americans. This virtual field trip includes video footage from living history reenactments to bring history to life.
Students learn not just about the soldiers stationed at Fort Ticonderoga, but about the role of women and the children that accompanied their husbands. Everything is set up in Google Slides and ready to go.
Valley Forge Virtual Field Trip
During the Revolutionary War the armies did not fight during the wintertime. Valley Forge was a winter encampment for General George Washington and his troops. The Valley Forge virtual field trip provides students with a better understanding of the day to day life during this time, the diversity of George Washington's troops, and how this winter period served as a turning point in the war.
As well, students will gain a clearer picture of the difference between soldiers and officers quarters as they tour both the basic huts for soldiers, and George Washington's headquarters. Students will also learn about the role of women and children and William Lee, an enslaved servant who accompanied General George Washington at Valley Forge.
The Battles of Saratoga Virtual Field Trip
Two important battles of the Revolutionary War that were fought 18 days apart are known as the Battles of Saratoga. The fields at Saratoga National Historic Park look much the same today as they did during these conflicts.
In this virtual field trip, students will learn about Freeman's Farm and Neilson's Farmhouse. The Neilson's home became a headquarters for American officers during the war. When the war was over, the Neilson's moved back to their home and filed a property claim for the extensive damages to their property caused by the war. However, his claim was not honored. Again, it is so important that students have an opportunity to learn about history from different angles and perspectives in order to gain a broader and deeper understanding of historical events.
This trip also includes a visit to the Marshall House where they will learn about the wife of a German commander, will visit Victory Woods, and the Surrender Site where British General John Burgoyne surrendered his army to American General Horatio Gates. And finally, this trip includes a look at the granite obelisk that was built in 1883 that is situated in Saratoga.
If these seem a bit complex, don't worry. Simple is key! There really is no prep involved since everything is set up in Google Slides with clickable links to direct Google Earth views and videos. You will want to be sure your students have access to Google Earth and YouTube as well. I have blog post with tech tips that provides some YouTube workarounds and tutorials if your school uses a LMS other than Google Classroom. And of course I can be reached directly too if you have questions about this trip or any other virtual field trip.
You can grab all of these trips in one money and time saving bundle here: Revolutionary War Virtual Field Trip Bundle