White House Visitor Center Rehabilitation and Closure Information
The White House Visitor Center is closed for rehabilitation. A temporary visitor center is located near the Ellipse Visitor Pavilion, just west of the intersection of 15th and E streets, NW.
White House Fence Restoration and Sidewalk Closure
The National Park Service is restoring the White House fence along Pennsylvania Avenue, portions of which are believed to date back to 1818. During this restoration work, sections of the White House sidewalk will be temporarily closed for public safety. More »
Construction Project Affecting the White House Sidewalk
Due to a construction project, a portion of both the White House sidewalk and Pennsylvania Avenue near East Executive Avenue will be closed until April 2015.
Plan a Field Trip
President's Park offers several school programs at the White House Visitor Center to assist students in strengthening skills in critical thinking, analyzing, observing, researching, and writing while learning about presidents, the White House, and President's Park.
All programs are free of charge and are approximately 1.5 hours to 4 hours. Reservations are available on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays on a first-come, first-served basis. Each program can accommodate a maximum of 60 students, including teachers and chaperones. Free bus transportation may available to schools located within the Beltway.
For questions, please call 202-208-1631.
Currently available programs:
President's Park also offers teacher training workshops. Learn more about our opportunities for educators here.
Please note: field trips and other education programs do not include a tour of the White House.
Witness to History
A National Park Service Ranger reads age-appropriate literature to students during this program. Using the children's book If the Walls Could Talk, students will be introduced to former Presidents and First Families and learn about the many roles of the White House.
The program includes hands-on activities and a tour of the White House Visitor Center exhibits or President's Park. This experience promotes comprehension and fosters a respect for public officials and the government among youth.
The Redcoats Are Coming! - The War of 1812
Students will create videos about the War of 1812 as it relates to where they live in the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia. This program also has students reenact the signing of the Treaty of Ghent at the Octagon House as they learn about what happened to the Madisons after they fled the White House.
President's Park - A Sense of Place
A suggested activity for all groups before visiting Washington.
The complex relationship we have with special places is explored in this program. Students will use maps and photographs to understand and interpret the spatial and functional relationship between the primary government buildings in Washington, the historical significance of the statues and memorials in President's Park, and the significance of the White House as an international symbol of freedom and democracy.
History through Art
Local artist Peter Waddell will introduce basic drawing techniques to students as they draw different historical objects--from Abraham Lincoln's hats to Dolley Madison's ice cream bowl--using different geometric shapes and shading techniques. While drawing, students will also learn about the importance of protecting objects like these for future generations. Following this activity, students will be given a walking tour of President's Park where they will find additional national treasures within the park.
Slavery and the Underground Railroad - Traveling Trunk
This is a traveling trunk developed for use in local classrooms or in the White House Visitor Center by a park ranger.
This curriculum-based program has numerous lesson plans, period clothing, primary documents, artifact reproductions, and a musical instrument. The program incorporates social studies/history, language arts, mathematics, music and art.
Please note that the trunk circulates in the greater Washington, DC metropolitan area only.
Stepping into History at President's Park
This program provides an opportunity to combine history with technology as students use GPS units and historical images to travel through time. Students will stand where historic events took place, analyze and interpret the meaning of those events, and consider the role of these events in establishing the White House as a national symbol of American ideals.
If Statues Could Talk
Students conduct an in-depth examination of the statues in Lafayette Park from a multidisciplinary point of view and learn about conservation issues and processes. Students conduct an actual assessment of the condition of monuments in the park.
America's Forgotten War - The War of 1812 & The Treaty of Ghent
This program pairs American students with those from Belgium, the United Kingdom, and Canada to create opportunities for exciting international exchange and learning. Students will produce videos using Microsoft Photostory 3 and primary documents, music, cartoons, maps, and other sources to tell the story of the War of 1812 as it relates to where they live. Participating schools will then use Skype or a similar program to screen the videos, followed by an open classroom discussion about the War of 1812 and the impacts of the Treaty of Ghent with their partner school abroad.
This online lesson plan, developed in cooperation with the Teaching with Historic Places program of the National Park Service, uses National Register of Historic Places documentation on Lafayette Square as well as other materials to examine the political role of First Amendment demonstrations at the White House.
(If you are interested in developing your own lesson plan based on a significant building, site, or monument near you, read Teaching Teachers the Power of Place for ideas on where to begin.)
Bridging the Watershed
This program introduces students and teachers to the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Also discussed is the environmental impact of trash and humans in a national park as well as on the watershed and the effects of non-native, invasive species on the balance of the park's ecosystem. The activities in this program were designed by teachers who use the constructivist approach and incorporate the five E's ---engagement, explorations, explanation, elaboration and evaluation.
Did You Know?
British soldiers set fire to the White House during the War of 1812. Almost everything inside was destroyed. James Madison hired James Hoban to rebuild the house using the original walls, which were still standing. It reopened in 1817 when James Monroe moved in.