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8 Activities to Prepare Students for Their 8th Grade D.C. Trip

8 Activities to Prepare Students for Their 8th Grade D.C. Trip featured image


To make the most of any student tour, pre-trip preparation is key. To help you get your students ready for their Washington, DC student tour we put together eight educational activities.

1) Know Before You Go Worksheets

We’ve compiled free worksheets, factsheets, document based questions and quizzes on D.C.-related subjects such as the presidents, the federal government and the Smithsonian Museums. Check out these resources.

2) Decades of D.C.

Have each student research the major happenings in Washington, D.C. during a given decade. Students should focus on debates surrounding political and social issues, laws that were passed, the leading players of the time and any notable local events. Have each student give a brief presentation of their decade.

3) Today’s Front Pages

If you’re visiting the Newseum during your Washington, D.C. student tour, look at the museum’s famous Today’s Front Pages archives. Have students choose a specific date and 5-10 newspapers published on that date. Ask the following questions:

  • What stories were highlighted across multiple newspapers? Do different papers have different angles on these stories?
  • What kinds of subjects are given the most space in different publications?
  • How do the stories covered by each newspaper reflect the publication’s location, reach and audience?
  • Can you identify a bias in any of the papers?

4) Presidential Presentations

Assign a president to each student, and have the student research the president’s views, the events taking place during the president’s term and any important actions they took. Student can discuss findings with classmates during a short presentation. Here is a free presidential history infographic about 10 popular presidents and their impact on our country.

5) Smithsonian Infographic

An 8th grade D.C. trip is not complete without a visit to the Smithsonian Museums. Get students excited with our infographic, and have them identify objects they would love to see.

6) Sketchnotes on Tour

Combining visuals with notes helps students with different learning styles comprehend information. Encourage students to take sketchnotes during their 8th grade D.C. trip by introducing them to the practice weeks earlier. Read our tips on bringing sketchnotes into the classroom.

7) Travel Writing

Have students write about a prior travel experience. This short piece should focus on what they saw, what they learned, things that were challenging and how their destination differed from home. After you travel with your group, have students repeat the same activity with their 8th grade D.C. trip.

8) Create a Social Media Account

Get students excited about their 8th grade D.C. trip by creating a social media account and having them follow you. Share photos or posts with pictures of sights, fun facts, D.C. weather reports, packing lists and more. Connect with us on Facebook!