Philadelphia Trip Information

Fifth Grade Philadelphia Trip Overview

“But of all the views of this law none is more important, none more legitimate, than that of rendering the people the safe, as they are the ultimate, guardians of their own liberty.
For this purpose the reading in the first stage, where they will receive their whole education, is proposed, as has been said, to be chiefly historical. History by apprising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future…”

-Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, Query 14, 1781

Philadelphia Parent Packet


Introduction: The Philadelphia trip is designed to help students understand the complex concepts regarding the founding of our nation and of democracy as a form of government.  Children will travel by coach bus, stay one night, and be chaperoned by Miller Avenue Staff members and parents.

Objective: The major objective in taking the fifth grade class to Philadelphia is to bring to life the places, people, and events that have resulted in the creation of the United States Constitution, our democratic system of government, and a population that believes in freedom and liberty for all.  This is the seventh year we will take this trip.

Related N.Y.S. Social Studies Standards:  

Standard 1:  History of the United States - Students will use a variety of intellectual skills to demonstrate their understanding of major eras, themes, developments, and turning points in the history of the United States and New York State.  This includes understanding of the basic ideals of American democracy as explained in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and other important documents.

Standard 5:  Civics, Citizenship and Government - Students will demonstrate their understanding of the necessity for establishing governments; the governmental system of the United States and other nations; the United States Constitution; the basic civic values of American constitutional democracy; and the roles, rights and responsibilities of citizenship, including avenues of participation.

Related N.Y.S. Math, Science and Technology Standard:

Standard 4:  Science - Students will understand and apply scientific concepts, principles, and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science

Overview of Sites

The two-day itinerary will include visiting the following sites and activities:
Independence Hall
Carpenters Hall
Franklin Court
Liberty Bell
Betsy Ross’ Home
This area of Philadelphia contains rich sites and exhibits on the founding of our country and government.  Students will visit the actual places where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were formulated and written, view the foundation of Benjamin Franklin’s home and the Liberty Bell; and hear the varied stories of America’s flag at the home of Betsy Ross

The National Constitution Center and The Annenberg Center
At the National Constitution Center students will investigate the foundations of the American political system, identify the American idea of constitutional government and identify distinctive characteristics of American society.  Multimedia and hands-on exhibits include The Story of We the People, Freedom Rising, and The American Experience.

The Franklin Institute
Emphasizing Benjamin Franklin’s roles as a scientist and inventor, the Franklin Institute offers hands-on science exhibits and live presentations that will enhance our students’ understanding of the fifth grade science curriculum.  Electricity Hall features displays of early experiments and applications of electricity.  These features allow students to interact with static electricity, motors, magnetism, and telegraphy.  The activities at the Franklin Institute will provide a meaningful connection to the electricity and electromagnetism units explored in fifth grade.  The “Giant Heart” and “Astronomy” exhibits are wonderful compliments to our curriculum as well.


When Would We Go to Philadelphia? We plan on going to Philadelphia Thursday, May 30 and returning on Friday, May 31.  Philadelphia is beautiful in the springtime.

How Was This Trip Arranged?  The trip was arranged in concert with the Franklin Institute along with input from faculty, staff, parents, and students.  The guiding premise for the trip was to arrange learning activities centered on what would be the most memorable experience for our fifth graders.    

Buses: McCarney Tours will be our bus company.  Children will go on modern and safe coach buses.  We will need four coach buses depending on the final number of students.  McCarney Tours uses only dependable bus companies and driver abstracts and bus safety inspection reports are available to S.W.R. Administration.

Staff and Supervision: Each class will be professionally supervised by a classroom teacher and either another support teacher (such as Art, Music, or P.E. Teacher) or paraprofessional (such as a Teacher Assistant).  In addition, the building principal will accompany the group.   Special Education students who have support staff as part of their I.E.P. will also have support staff during this trip.  The children will be divided into small groups (approximately one parent chaperone to three students).  Each fifth grade class will travel to the sites as a group and the overall supervision will be provided by professional staff.

The Museum: The children, staff, and parents will stay overnight at the Franklin Institute, a world-renowned museum.  Each class will have their own area to “camp.” In addition to parents and our faculty, the museum will also provide staff to help lead many specially tailored scientific activities.  Note:  no air mattresses are permitted at the museum.

Parent Meetings and Final Determination:  Parents will be asked to make a commitment regarding their willingness to send their children and be a chaperone.  The trip can take place only if 75% of children commit.

There will be a Mandatory Chaperone Meeting on:

Tuesday, May 28 at 7:30 PM
Wednesday, May 29 at 7:30 AM

Chaperones must attend either meeting in order to go on the trip.  This will allow staff to reinforce safety procedures and to answer questions.

What happens if there is injury or illness on the trip? Parents will fill-out all necessary medical releases and provide information related to allergies and other related medical conditions.  In case of an accident, the District insurance provides secondary coverage for this school-sanctioned trip.  Parent insurance policies would cover the cost of care, and the District insurance covers any remaining cost.

What happens to children if the trip proceeds but they do not attend?
   As we have done with all overnight field trips, we will hire a top-notch substitute to run a concurrent program based on concepts of American Democratic History.  When the children get together after the trip, all students will be able to make contributions to follow-up activities.

What is the cost of this trip for parents and for the School District?   The estimated cost of the trip will be $225 per person.   Additional fundraising is planned (e.g., that compliment our community and learning environment including t-shirt sales).  This will reduce the cost.

What is included in the cost?   The cost includes transportation to and from Philadelphia and all sites visited. It includes all admissions to the various museums, one night stay at the Franklin Institute, and three meals - 1 dinner, 1 breakfast, and 1 lunch.  It also includes the cost of a Tour Escort from American Heritage Landmark Tours, Inc, who accompanies our group from beginning to end in the Historic District.

Emergency Plan:  To ensure maximum security, the following precautions will be in place while in Philadelphia:

  • All staff will receive a phone list so they may be in close contact with every member of the team.
  • All students will have an emergency cell number (one staff member’s number) stored in their shoe, to be used if they are separated from the group.
  • Parent chaperones will be asked to share their cell phone numbers with their child’s teacher.
  • MA staff will indicate to lead chaperones a meeting spot at each site to be used in case of emergency.

Trip Cancellation:  Once confirmed there is always the possibility that the trip will be canceled for any number of reasons.  We have in the past been able to get full reimbursements for cancellations for our District.  However, there is no guarantee of this since it must be negotiated with individual providers including the bus company and various sites, and greatly depends on circumstances. 


Democracy is a wonderful human experiment.  In our great Nation, it is quite easy to take our freedoms, and the responsibilities we share to make our democracy live, for granted.  As a school, we teach children the difficult and abstract concepts of democracy, liberty, and freedom.  We do this in many ways including reading, writing, role-playing, Internet research, and presentations.  

However, there is nothing that will make these concepts more real, memorable, and meaningful than visiting the sites where the Declaration of Independence was signed, and our Constitution was created, where Ben Franklin lived, where Betsy Ross sewed one of our first flags, or where the actual Liberty Bell is housed.  It is our hope that by joining together on this rediscovery of our great Nation’s roots, we may deepen our children’s knowledge of our democracy while strengthening the community we all share.

I invite you to research the sites we will visit prior to the trip.  The extra time we take learning about the significance of Philadelphia in our history, the greater the experience for our youngsters.  If you have any questions or wish to discuss the trip in greater detail, feel free to contact your child’s teacher or myself at your convenience.


“A constitution founded on these principles introduces knowledge among the people, and inspires them with a conscious dignity becoming freemen; a general emulation takes place, which causes good humor, sociability, good manners, and good morals to be general. That elevation of sentiment inspired by such a government, makes the common people brave and enterprising.”
-John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

Shoreham-Wading River Central School District
Tuesday, July 29, 2014