Any visit to Lady Washington or Hawaiian Chieftain is a memorable experience, but there are ways to teachers can add to the experience by preparing fun activities for their students to participate in before they come aboard. All teachers who book a program with Historical Seaport receive our Common Core-aligned learning activities which introduce the concepts of Voyage of Explorers field trip and prepare students for the sights and sounds they will experience on the tall ships. However, teachers are also welcome to design their own special activities to bring maritime history to life in their classroom. Whether you are coming for a dockside program or a sail, here are some bonus activities you can introduce to your class which will give students a personalized connection to maritime heritage!

1. Make a Class Flag

Every tall ship needs to display its colors; let Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain fly yours! Using a 3′ x 5′ sheet of canvas, have your students paint a flag which represents your class. You can include things like their names and grade, and school name and mascot. Be sure it is colorful, so you can see it clearly from 90′ up the mast! When it is complete, add grommets to one side so it can be attached to our flag halyard. Our crew will happily display your flag above our tall ship for the duration of your field trip. Your students’ flag, blowing high above the rigging, is a photo-worthy moment that your students will never forget.

2. Give Students an Occupation

Introduce your students to some of the specialized occupations found on tall ships. There are quite a lot to choose from, including Captains, Mates, Cooks, Boatswains, Sail Makers, Pursuers, Carpenters and more! Choose a number of these beforehand then have your students read about each occupation’s specialized role on a tall ship. Laminate 2″ x 4″ name tags with an occupation written on front and a description of their duties on the back. Then, using a hole punch and yarn, make these name tags into necklaces for students to wear during their field trip. Assign a role to each student or have them choose one at random (for authenticity, be sure to include more Sailors than the more specialized roles). When your students wear these name tags during their field trip, they will have a chance to see what their work duties would be in the 18th century, and they will make personal connections with our sailors who serve in those roles today.

3. Chart Your Classroom

You can introduce navigation to your students using your classroom as your ocean! Have students measure the area of your classroom by using a tape measure to find the length and width. Next, have students plot these measurements on a sheet of graph paper. Using landmarks in your classroom (desks, bookshelves, etc.), have students set a course from the door to specific points in the room, recording how far away different objects are from other objects. You can make this activity more challenging by representing a specific unit of distance with the squares on the graph paper. Or, hide “buried treasure” in your classroom and have your students follow a course you design to find it!


4. Observe Your Surroundings

Tall ship sailors need to be aware of their environment. The moment the bus arrives for your field trip is when your students can put these observational skills to work. Have students make a “spyglass” using their hands to form a telescope. Kids can scan the skies and the water for shore birds, seals, sea lions, and other boats. Instruct your class to find specific features in the landscape, like an “I Spy” game. This is a perfect activity to run in the parking lot before you board, as you are getting students ready and wait for everyone to use the restroom!


5. Make Ship’s Biscuit for Students to Try

During your field trip, students will get a chance to handle ship’s biscuit (also known as hard tack), but many kids often want to know how it tastes. If you are capable of baking beforehand, you can try one of the many ship’s biscuit recipes found online to prepare a special snack to give to students at lunch time on their field trip day. The final product is inexpensive and edible, though largely flavorless, and will give your class some perspective on the diet of 18th century sailors.


Do you have other activities in mind to teach your students about maritime heritage? Be sure to share them with us along with photographs of your students trying them out by emailing!