Whether online or on a field trip, consider using the resources of the National Park Service (NPS) to incorporate national historic landmarks into your lesson plans on American history. National historic landmarks are historic places so designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they uniquely capture the heritage of the United States. There are currently 2,500 historic places that are considered nationally significant. In the words of the NPS:
National Historic Landmarks are exceptional places. They form a common bond between all Americans. While there are many historic places across the nation, only a small number have meaning to all Americans–these we call our National Historic Landmarks.
These landmarks are identified by the NPS through theme studies, which provide a national perspective and historic background for particular subjects and issues in American history or prehistory, and for the physical properties associated with them. For example, if you and your students are reading about the North and South becoming increasingly different (Chapter 13 in WorldView Software’s “Basic American History I: Pre-Columbian Years to Reconstruction”), a way to make that come alive is through the Underground Railroad travel itinerary. (The site is old but still works when you click “OK”.)
If you are lucky enough to live close to a site, there is always the possibility of seeing it in person – and there are dozens of sites on the register. But if not, the NPS has also made a great deal of material available online, such as information about the Harriet Tubman Home for the Aged (which was also her residence) and Thompson AME Zion Church, all in Auburn, NY, as well as links to the locations themselves (for more on Harriett Tubman, the Home, and its community, visit this page.) Students can research a travel itinerary and follow it to freedom.