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The Historic Artcraft Theatre enchants students

Students experience history firsthand at The Historic Artcraft Theatre in Franklin, Indiana.

History talks, movies and tours for school groups can be arranged at the 1922 art deco movie house.

Artcraft Theatre
Marquee, The Historic Artcraft Theatre, Franklin, Ind.
Credit: The Historic Artcraft Theatre

“Our goal is twofold,” said Jaime Shilts, programming and events coordinator. “First, we want to expose children to the Artcraft experience, which is the same as what their parents and grandparents would have experienced. And two, to offer an affordable, fun field trip for all ages.”

The 15-minute history talk presents an overview of the 625-seat theater’s past.

“We’ll talk about the early beginnings of the theatre,” Shilts said. “We talk about what a silent movie is and what vaudeville was and about the orchestra pit and how it was used. We also tell them about our 35 mm projectors and how they differ from what other theaters use. We always talk about the restoration of the theatre and why saving it is important. And we like to mention our volunteers and what volunteering means. We have over 280 volunteers, and they keep us in business.”

Smaller groups are able to take tours of the theater. Tours include the stage, adjacent green room and original projection booth.

A classic movie viewing includes a small drink and popcorn. Students love the popcorn, as it is locally grown and tastes different than the popcorn they are used to.

“The Artcraft is a wonderful place to bring students, and we can hold a lot of them,” Shilts said. “Our volunteers help run the field trips and they make it pretty easy for the teachers. We love to talk about the history of the theater and also why recycling and preservation is important. We’re actually owned by Franklin Heritage, Inc., one of Indiana’s longest running preservation groups.”

Artcraft Theatre
Student program, The Historic Artcraft Theatre, Franklin, Ind.
Credit: The Historic Artcraft Theatre

Franklin is located about 25 minutes south of Indianapolis, just west of Interstate 65’s exit 90. Motorcoaches drop off students in front of the theater. Drivers are directed to local parking lots.

For more information on The Historic Artcraft Theatre call 317-739-0458 or go to

The December 2019 issue of Student Group Tour is online

The December 2019 issue of Student Group Tour magazine is available to read online. This FREE digital edition includes:

Read the December 2019 issue of Student Group Tour online

Game On
Major cities score with educational sports tours

The Lounge
Danielle Savarese, Beyond Times Square

Study Guide
5 tips for leading students on the subway

Along with coverage on:
Ottawa, Ontario
Hartford, Connecticut
The Adirondack Coast, New York
Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Phoenix, Arizona
Australia – Eastern Australia guarantees an educational adventure

Student group travel planners qualify for a 100% free subscription to Student Group Tour magazine.  Subscribe Today!

5 Stops: Ottawa, Ontario

Ottawa aerial view
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada Credit: Ottawa Tourism
Element Hotel Harrison Newark SGTM ITIN 11-2019 LB

More student groups visit Ottawa each year than any other Canadian city. Canada’s capital offers a wealth of national historic sites, museums and monuments that immerse students in the story of Canada’s past, present and future — with many concentrated in the city’s safe and walkable downtown core. 

“For students, Ottawa offers a diverse range of ways to blow off a little steam — from cycling on our vast network of paved pathways, to adventure experiences and skating on the world’s largest rink, to festivals, sports and entertainment,” said Kelly Dean, travel trade sales manager for Ottawa Tourism. “For tour operators, the capital is an experienced host city, with accommodations, hospitality and services on the ground directly geared to student groups.”  

Educators can match a visit to the curriculum. “If you’re teaching students about government and democracy, you can take them behind the scenes at the Parliament Buildings and Supreme Court of Canada,” Dean said. 

National museums cover nearly every facet of Canada’s human, technological and natural history. Art teachers include the National Gallery of Canada on their itineraries.

Ottawa Tourism
613-237-5150, ext. 1133

Canadian Museum of History

Canadian Museum of History, Ottawa
Canadian Museum of History, Ottawa, Ontario
Credit: Canadian Museum of History

Discover the events, experiences, people and objects that have shaped Canada’s history. Marvel at the world’s largest indoor collection of totem poles. The Canadian History Hall, the signature exhibition, lets students discover the events, personalities and historical currents of Canada — from time immemorial to the present. A wide range of school programs encourage students to pursue a deeper understanding of Canada’s history. 

Canadian Museum of Nature

Canadian Museum of Nature Arctic exhibit
Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, Ontario
Credit: © Martin Lipman, Canadian Museum of Nature

Visit Canada’s natural history museum, located in a beautiful castle in downtown Ottawa. Five floors of galleries include giant dinosaurs, a blue whale skeleton, dazzling minerals, Canadian birds and live insects. Get an in-depth look at the Arctic and touch real ice. Take the popular Gallery Highlights Tour or compare the characteristics of grizzlies and polar bears in the new Hands-On Polar Bear Tour. The museum offers curriculum-based workshops and live animal shows.

National Gallery of Canada

National Gallery of Canada
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario
Credit: NGC

Located in the ByWard Market, the National Gallery of Canada is an architectural gem. Any visit is sure to be memorable, with one of the world’s largest sculptures, a spider, greeting students. Maman by Louise Bourgeois is part of the National Collection, which tells the remarkable stories that have shaped Canada. Tours and hands-on workshops, uniquely offered to student groups, give a new perspective. In-gallery drawing is a favorite student program.

Omega Park

Wolves at Omega Park, Ottawa
Omega Park, Ottawa, Ontario
Credit: Omega Park

Omega Park is where students discover Canada’s nature, fauna, history and culture in a unique way. Open year-round, the park offers several activities for all ages, such as a wolves’ presentation, animations and walking trails. In addition, accommodations such as tipis, a log cabin and a wolf cabin are available to extend the stay and sleep near wolves and bears. A brand-new illuminated walking trail — to discover nature in a night version — is open from spring to early fall.

Canadian War Museum

Canadian War Museum
Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario
Credit: Canadian War Museum

Students immerse themselves in a dynamic, hands-on experience sure to expand their knowledge of the conflicts that shaped Canada, Canadians and the world. Canada’s rich military history is showcased through artifacts, personal stories, artwork, photos and interactive presentations. Tour the extensive permanent and special exhibitions. Rest and reflect in Memorial Hall. Chat with a veteran to let history come alive. Also available are gallery activity sheets, workshops, guided tours, free group orientation programs in May/June and group menus at the cafeteria. 

Top stops: Boston

Boston, Mass. Credit: Kyle Klein Photography

Everyone knows about Boston’s status as the “Cradle of Liberty” and its historical significance, but a trip to today’s Boston offers so much more for students to explore. From experiencing some of the finest dancers and musicians in world class settings to going hands-on with a real squid and viewing the human body as never seen before, these top stops bring the arts and sciences to students in ways a video or textbook could never do.

Boston Ballet

Boston Ballet
Boston Ballet, Boston, Mass.
Credit: Courtesy Boston Ballet

Share an extraordinary experience with your students. Boston Ballet’s 2019–20 season explores new ways to tell timeless stories and showcases voices and visions that move beyond the ordinary. Groups of 10 or more enjoy discounts up to 40% on great seats. Plus, you’ll unlock access to special add-ons like backstage tours and dancer meet-and-greets. Email or call 617-456-6343 to get started. For more information, visit

The Museum of Science, Boston

Museum of Science, Boston
Museum of Science, Boston, Mass.
Credit: Courtesy Museum of Science, Boston

The Museum of Science, Boston is the place to learn, discover and have fun for every group size. Meet a 65-million-year-old Triceratops, witness indoor lightning, and explore worlds near and far in our Charles Hayden Planetarium and Mugar Omni Theater (featuring New England’s only IMAX® Dome screen). With countless interactive exhibits and activities, daily presentations — even live animals — there’s something for everyone! 

Gunther von Hagens’ “BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life,” featuring real human bodies, is on exhibit through January 5, 2020. You can experience both the wonders of the human body and the sensational science you’ll find throughout the museum! Details at

Boston Symphony Orchestra

Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston
Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston, Mass.
Credit: Courtesy Boston Symphony Orchestra

Reservations are now being accepted for the 2019–20 Boston Symphony Orchestra season. Celebrating Andris Nelsons’ sixth season as music director, the 26 weeks of music ranging from favorites to newly-commissioned works will run through May 2, 2020. Be sure to ask about our “Working With the Masters”program, offering groups customized classes with our musicians! Email or call 617-638-9345 to secure the best pricing and availability. For more information, visit

New England Aquarium

New England Aquarium, Boston
New England Aquarium, Boston, Mass.
Credit: Courtesy New England Aquarium

Experience our blue planet like never before! Anchored on Boston’s picturesque waterfront, the New England Aquarium is a destination for memorable close encounters with ocean animals. Get up close to lively penguin islands and exotic Amazon habitats and immerse yourself in dazzling tropical reefs. Gently touch a shark or ray in our touch tank or a variety of marine life in our hands-on tidepool. Bring your questions as our educators are excited to share their ocean knowledge. And when you visit the aquarium, you support the ocean and allow us to renew our commitment to protecting the blue planet! Learn more at

Boston Pops

Boston Pops
Boston Pops, Boston, Mass.
Credit: Courtesy Boston Pops

The Boston Pops 2020 spring season in May and June celebrates Keith Lockhart’s 25th anniversary as music director. Bring your group to one of Boston’s “must-see” attractions where “America’s Orchestra” performs programs that feature Broadway favorites, exciting guest artists and the party atmosphere of Pops table seating with fun food and drink options. Email groupsales@bso.oror call 617-638-9345 to stay up to date on the latest 2020 Spring Pops information. For more information, visit

Carousel museum combines fun with learning

New England Carousel Museum
New England Carousel Museum, Bristol, Conn. Credit: Connecticut Office of Tourism

With 100 years of carousel art and history on display, The New England Carousel Museum in Bristol, Connecticut, shares the joy of the nostalgic amusement with student groups. The 33,000-square-foot museum houses more than 100 antique wooden horses, a restoration department and an indoor Venetian carousel.

“Educators and tour operators should include the New England Carousel Museum in their itineraries because it has something for everyone — carousel enthusiasts, history buffs, children, parents or those who are looking to learn about a piece of Americana that they have never thought of before,” said Hannah Einsiedel, reservation and membership coordinator at the museum. “We also offer curriculum-focused, STEAM-based programming for educators who are looking to add a field trip to their lesson plans.”

The museum can accommodate a maximum of 100 students at one time. Most groups spend at least an hour at the museum, but educators should plan for up to three hours if they are including an educational program. Tours and programs focus on topics like history, engineering and the art of carousels.

“We hope that all students take away not only a newfound appreciation for the art and history of carousels that they find outside our walls, but an invigorated intellectual curiosity for the different facets of our nation’s history that are often overlooked,” Einsiedel said.

A visit to the museum isn’t complete without a ride on the carousel, a part of the tour that’s always a favorite among students.

“Students and adults alike also enjoy our 1930 Wurlitzer band organ and watching our restoration artists in action,” Einsiedel said.

While visiting the museum, students also can explore three other museums under the same roof: Museum of Fire History, Museum of Greek Culture and The Fine Art Galleries. Student programming can overlap in those areas, if desired.

For more information on New England Carousel Museum call 860-585-5411 or go to

Schubert Club Museum presents joy of making music

tour at Schubert Club Museum music musical
Tour, Schubert Club Museum, Saint Paul, Minn. Credit: Schubert Club Museum

Students encounter a one-of-a-kind collection of musical instruments and manuscripts at Schubert Club Museum in downtown Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Kate Cooper, director of education and museum, said the museum demonstrates the inspiring role of music through the ages by means of its collection and music-themed exhibits of historic and cultural interest.

“The Schubert Club Museum is a wonderful space for all, located in Saint Paul’s iconic Landmark Center,” Cooper said. “It is an interactive space, which offers visitors a reflection on the joys of music-making through the centuries.”

The museum is in the process of being redesigned to make it even more interactive. But Cooper said the museum will remain open throughout the process.

schubert club museum sculpture music musical
“Cyclone” sculpture of instruments, Schubert Club Museum, Saint Paul, Minn.
Credit: Schubert Club Museum

Key exhibit areas include a massive “cyclone” sculpture of instruments from around the world, historic keyboards including a 17th-century Italian harpsichord, and music boxes and phonographs dating to 1890.

Playable originals and replicas of keyboards span the 17th to 20th centuries.

There’s also a traditional gamelan orchestra celebrating an over 1,000-year-old musical tradition from the islands of Bali and Java.

Tours can be guided or self-guided. Admission to the museum is free. Groups of five or more are encouraged to call ahead.

There is a place outside the building to unload motorcoaches, and motorcoaches are directed to an area about 1½ miles away to park.

For more information on Schubert Club Museum call 651-292-3266 or go to

Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago celebrates top ranking

Museum of Science and Industry
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago Credit: J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

The Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago (MSI) is celebrating the 10th consecutive year as the No. 1 field trip destination among Chicago museums.

According to Museums in the Park, 360,239 students visited MSI in 2018. This marks a full decade of MSI continuously providing fun, engaging science education to students on field trips that are free for Illinois schools and discounted for out-of-state students.

Museums in the Park is a coalition of 11 museums located on Chicago Park District property.

Museum of Science and Industry
Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago
Credit: J.B. Spector/Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago

“MSI is proud to be the leader in school group attendance across Chicago museums, providing awe-inspiring learning opportunities to students,” said Andrea Ingram, the Ruth D. and Ken M. Davee vice president of education and guest services. “Our experiences and group welcoming process are second to none, as these students are at the core of our vision to inspire and motivate children to achieve their full potential in science, technology, medicine and engineering.”

With 14 acres of exhibits, Giant Dome Theater films and hands-on Learning Labs, the museum provides many learning opportunities.

Led by a museum educator, Learning Labs connect with classroom curriculum, engage students in the scientific process and provide insight into STEM careers.

Among the newer programs are Jr. Science Cafés, where students talk with STEM professionals about their career paths and their personal journeys into science.

Students can explore more than a dozen MSI exhibits such as “Science Storms,” “YOU! The Experience” and “Numbers In Nature: A Mirror Maze.”

MSI also provides discounted tickets for all school groups to experiences that include Coal Mine, Giant Dome Theater films, U-505 On-board Tour and Future Energy Chicago.

For more information, call 773-684-1414 or visit

5 fundraising ideas for an epic class trip


Educational travel can teach all kinds of lessons in leadership and responsibility, including how to earn and save money for the trip. Help students get started with one or more of these fundraising strategies.

1. Tried-and-true methods

A bake sale, car wash, used-book fair or community garage sale can generate significant funds. These are great ways to begin your fundraising efforts.

2. Crowdfunding

Websites like Kickstarter and GoFundMe can be great ways to raise cash from donors all over the world. Share the campaign on social media for more exposure. When creating the campaign, pay attention to each website’s fine print, watching closely for hidden fees and payout information.

3. Battle of the Bands

Music is a hobby for many middle and high school students. Organize a Battle of the Bands and charge the bands and audience members. For a fun twist, consider a fundraising karaoke contest.

4. Recycling drive

Have students collect old cartridges, cell phones, clothes or even soda cans. Set up a partnership with a company that will buy the recycled items.

5. Color run

Students wear white T-shirts, and at specific checkpoints, volunteers spray them with water-based paint or throw water balloons containing paint. Charge a participation fee and have sponsors pledge money for each completed lap.

Fundraising tips from our readers

How do your students raise funds for a class trip?

“We set up booths at all of the area festivals and sell food products that are donated. Our sign also is helpful in receiving donations.”

James Craft, teacher, South Central Jr.­–Sr. High School, Union Mills, Indiana

“I have had success with selling World’s Finest Chocolate Bars. Our next big fundraiser is a bowling event at our local bowling alley.”

Amy Harn, choir director, Byron Community School District 226, Byron, Illinois

“We use our school parking lot for local parade parking on St. Patrick’s Day. We only ask for a free-will donation, and people literally throw $20 bills at us! The whole thing lasts only three hours — just waving students with signs to draw people in.  We made $1,600 this year!”

Bruce Boehne, teacher, Zion Lutheran School, Dallas, Texas

Learn about America’s development at Pioneer Village

Pioneer Village
Credit: Pioneer Village

Covered wagons carried pioneers and their belongings westward at an average of 10 miles per day. Since the wagons were crowded with belongings and food, everyone who could walk had to. At this speed, how many days would it take a class to walk from Harold Warp Pioneer Village in Minden, Nebraska, back to their school?

Such questions build critical thinking at Pioneer Village, where exhibits are arranged in chronological order to vividly portray how America grew from the open hearth and grease lamp to supersonic speed and cell phones. Often described as the “Smithsonian of the Plains,” the village is located a short 15-minute drive south of Interstate I-80.

“Visitors from around the world use words like ‘fantastic,’ ‘a wonderful American treasure,’ ‘amazing’ and ‘remarkable’ to describe the 50,000 items in 28 buildings,” said Marshall Nelson, the village’s general manager.

Pioneer Village automobiles and airplanes
Credit: Pioneer Village

Students marvel at items like a steam carousel and the world’s oldest Buick. They find wagons, buggies, saddles, guns, trains, 350 antique automobiles, 100 tractors, 20 aircraft, Rogers’ statuary and historic buildings. There are seven generations of kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms from 1830 to 1980. 

Nelson said the groups that visit are most surprised by the diversity of its collection. The village gives visitors the chance to experience the development of current technologies through the original technologies developed by forefathers.

“The collections encompass virtually every field of human endeavor,” Nelson said. “The museum is full of the actual items used by our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, as well as ourselves.

“When you experience the things from your past that were meaningful to you, you take away a sense of family, belonging and heritage, and the recognition of how our forefathers were able to survive and develop from the merger life of the 1800s to the world in which we now live,” he said.

Pioneer Village has served the student travel market for more than 65 years. There is front-door loading and unloading, easy motorcoach parking and the opportunity for a step-on welcome.

Nelson noted there are areas to sit down and rest, and shade trees. During the summer months, a snack bar is available for students to order drinks and old-fashioned burgers, chili cheese dogs and root beer floats. “It is an extremely relaxed atmosphere — never crowded,” Nelson said. “Our guests can pick the areas they are most interested in and pass on the buildings they are less interested in, and still truly enjoy themselves.”

For more information, call 308-832-1181 or visit

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre offers more than dinner and a show

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, Lancaster, Pa. Credit: Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

When students visit Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, they’re treated to Broadway-style productions, award-winning food and exceptional service. Now in its 33rd year, the theater is no stranger to hospitality or student groups, for that matter.

 “For many students, this is the first time they have ever been to a dinner theater, and for some, it is the first time they have been to a live production at all,” said Allison Hutchison, director of advertising and public relations at the theater. “We hope they take away an appreciate for live theatre and a memorable experience.”

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, Lancaster, Pa.
Credit: Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

The theater’s close proximity to major cities like Hershey; Harrisburg; Gettysburg; Philadelphia; Baltimore, Maryland; Washington, D.C.; and New York City, make it an ideal student itinerary stop.

At Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, the show and meal take place in the same room. The intimate theater features tiered seating, so every seat provides a great vantage point. The 2020 theater season includes Grumpy Old Men, Something Rotten, The Little Mermaid and Elf, among others.   

Student ticket prices include a Broadway-style show; a classic American-cuisine buffet meal including a hot buffet, full salad bar and dessert buffet; gratuity; and a Q&A-session upon request. A study guide can be made available prior to each show, focusing on topics like performing arts, the theme of the show and workbook activities.

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre
Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre, Lancaster, Pa.
Credit: Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre

“We also offer Broadway Bound workshops, available for purchase for your group in addition to the dinner and show,” Hutchison said. “These workshops promote the fundamentals of musical theater in a professional theatre environment.”

The workshops take place for one hour, prior to the meal, and include a private instructional session with a theater profession. Topics include Musical Theatre 101; So You Think You Can Dance?; The Audition Process; and Sets, Props, Costumes & Makeup.

Dutch Apple Dinner Theatre is open year-round and can seat 328 guests.

For more information, call 717-898-1900 or visit