Educational Resources for Historic Alexandria

Alexandria offers educators the unique opportunity to reinforce their teaching with hands-on experiences, field trips, lectures, educational kits and other media resources. These programs are designed to foster interest in the history and culture of Alexandria from colonial times to the present.

Page updated on Feb 19, 2020 at 10:49 AM

Educational Programs

Children Creating Timeline image

There are many historic sites in Alexandria to choose from for programs, ranging from the Colonial period to the Civil Rights movement. The Museums offer education programs for both children and adults. Many programs are suitable not only for school groups, but also for scouts, daycare, camps and homeschool groups.

Please call individual museums at least two weeks in advance to arrange a program or a tour.

School Programs 

Incorporate a visit to an Alexandria historic site or museum to bring your lessons to life and connect your students to the community they live in. Many sites offer free admission to classes from Alexandria City Public Schools, and some also offer free programs to other public and private school groups.   

Adult Programs 

Historic Alexandria sites provide a variety of experiences for adults, from hands-on programs to discounted group tours. Choose a site to visit or visit our calendar of events for upcoming special events.

Special Needs 

Groups with special needs can call in advance to arrange a program and work with individual sites to ensure your Alexandria experience fits the needs of all in your group. Some historic sites are multi-level and do not have elevators; however, if notified when scheduling the program, adjustments can be made to include all to the best of each site’s ability. Sign language and foreign language interpreters may also be available if requested when making your reservation.

Re-enactors in the Classroom imageCamp and Daycare Tours 

Whether it’s a history camp or a daycare field trip, the City of Alexandria has a lot to offer Daycares and Camps. Choose a site to visit for your group ages 4 and up, but be sure to contact each site you would like to visit at least two weeks in advance.

Homeschool Families 

Homeschool families and groups may choose from a variety of programs, including School and Scout programs and group tours. Please contact the individual site(s) you are interested in visiting in advance for a complete list of options. Please note that many special programs require a minimum of two weeks advance registration and are subject to availability. The Office of Historic Alexandria is also proud to host an annual Homeschool Day, where participating sites offer additional hands-on activities for visiting families.

Scout Programs  

When planning a visit to Historic Alexandria, pack and troop leaders should check with individual sites for special Scout tour offerings or visit our calendar of events for upcoming special events.

  • All Historic Alexandria museums offer tours and programs for Boy and Girl Scout troops of all ages.
  • Gadsby's Tavern Museum provides Girl Scout Overnights for Juniors and Cadettes, an exciting opportunity for troops to spend the night at the historic tavern and experience life as an 18th century traveler. Must be 4th grade or older to attend; no tag-alongs. 

Reenactors in your Classroom

Many city sites work closely with the Living History Foundation, a volunteer organization. While the museums and historic sites in Alexandria cannot book a reenactor for your group nor provide costumed staff for events or classroom visits, some may be able to provide additional references. If you would like to bring your class to scheduled events that feature reenactors, please check our calendar.

Educational Kits  

Education Outreach Kit

Bring history to life in your classroom! The following educational outreach kits are available for use in the classroom. A nominal fee is charged for renting the trunks for teachers outside of the Alexandria City Public School system. To reserve a kit, please contact the museum directly.

  • Tavern in a Trunk  
    Museum: Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
    Grades: first through eighth
    Topics covered: Colonial and Early American Daily Life and Urban Life, Urban Slavery, including newspaper and travelers’ quotes activities and 18th century clothing
  • Playing the Past
    Museum: Gadsby’s Tavern Museum
    Grades: K-8
    Topics Covered: 18th century dancing, clothing, and food; historical character research, all geared to guide class or troop in recreating an 18th century ball

  • Life During the Civil War
    Museum: Fort Ward Museum and Historic Site
    Grades: fourth through high school
    Topics Covered: Life of a Common Soldier; Local Civil War History; Civilian Experience; Women of the Civil War; African American Soldiers; Prominent Virginians
  • Inside Old Town: Outreach Kit
    Museum: Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum
    Grades: fourth through eighth
    Topics Covered: Colonial and Early American Daily Life and Urban Life, including map reading and census activities
  • A Century of Just Women: Northern Virginia’s African American Women From 1900-1999
    Museum: Alexandria Black History Museum
    Grades: fourth
    Topic: Contributions of Northern Virginia’s African American women

Online Lesson Resources

Below are lesson plans available online in which Historic Alexandria sites and their collections have been featured. Most of the lesson plans were developed for older elementary and middle school students, but many can be easily adapted to meet your specific classroom needs.

Teaching with Historic Places in Alexandria 

These two lessons feature significant African American Sites in Alexandria, Virginia. These lessons were inspired by the National Park Service’s Teaching with Historic Places program.

For us the Living, focused on Alexandria National Cemetery and its history, is an an interactive site for students to connect local history with national history. This site was developed by George Mason University Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, with the National Cemetery Administration.  

Creating a More Perfect Community

These lessons were developed by local teachers. The Primary Source Activities can easily be adapted to a variety of classroom settings, and the Curriculum Units include all of the grade levels. Topics covered span Colonial America to twentieth century history. This three-year project (2004-2006), funded by a Teaching American History Grant awarded to Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS), represents a partnership between ACPS, George Mason University's Center for History and New Media and Department of History and Art History, the Office of Historic Alexandria, and Northern Virginia Community College.