Washington DC’s National Mall is home to many of our country’s most significant historical monuments.
We were so excited to visit Washington DC as a family. I knew from the moment we first started planning our family vacation to Washington DC that I wanted to do my research and see if the National Mall offered a Junior Ranger program. Ever since earning Junior Ranger Badges at the Fredericksburg Battlefield, my boys have been eager to earn more. Sure enough there are Washington DC National Mall Junior Ranger badges. We learned a bit about it online at the National Park Service website.
The National Mall in Washington DC is a great way to teach your kids about some of history’s most significant moments and figures. The Washington DC National Mall Junior Ranger badges gives kids a fun way to learn more about the monuments and historical figures with the incentive of a National Park Junior Ranger badge as a reward. The bonus for families is that admission is free to all of the National Mall monuments and at select times of years the monuments are open past 5 pm and into the evening.
The National Mall in Washington DC includes the following monuments that not only are participating in the National Park Service Junior Ranger badge program but also offer free admission: Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, World War II Memorial, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, and the DC War Memorial.
Here’s how the Washington DC National Mall Junior Ranger Badges program works.
- Visit one of the locations listed above that are part of the National Mall. You’ll want to find a National Park Service Ranger who can give you a Junior Ranger Activity Folder and worksheet to get you started. We recommend starting with a National Mall monument that has a visitor center like the World War II Memorial or the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. At these locations, you will find an office with park rangers. These rangers can give you the worksheets for all the National Mall monuments. This will save you valuable time later as you won’t need to find a park ranger for additional worksheets.
- For children 8 years and older, they need to complete 4 of the memorial worksheets to earn Washington DC National Mall Junior Ranger badges. Children 9 years old and older need to complete 6 memorial sheets.
- For each of the Washington DC National Mall Junior Ranger badges worksheets there were different activities. Some had questions. Others asked kids to make drawings or do a word search. Some had a matching game. Here’s a brief look at some of the Junior Ranger badge worksheets my kids completed. Be sure as you stop at each monument you also get a cancellation stamp on your child’s Junior Ranger Activity Folder. It’s not required but it’s a great extra way to document the trip. There’s a spot on the back of the folder for the stamps. Also consider ending your badgework at one of the locations with a visitor center, as not all of the mouments stock up the Junior Ranger pins.
At the World War II Memorial, my boys decoded a telegraph by looking at an engraved plaque on the Atlantic side of the memorial. The west side of the memorial helped them with a connect the dots picture. They needed to analyze one of the bronze panels for an open ended question. Finally, they matched up war items with the materials they were made from.
Over at the Lincoln Memorial, the boys used Morse Code and the engravings on a wall to decode one message with the words from speeches made by Abraham Lincoln. The boys also had to answer questions about the structure of the Memorial in order to earn their Washington DC National Mall Junior Ranger badges.
When we visited the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, my boys learned important and unique facts about the Memorial from a very wise park volunteer. His answers helped the boys complete the crossword puzzle on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial worksheet. The worksheet also challenged them to think about what they believe is worth fighting for and had them taking part in the tradition of tracing a name from the wall.
At the Korean War Veterans Memorial, my boys had to carefully observe the statues of soldiers as well as the wall memorial. Their Washington DC National Mall Junior Ranger badges worksheet asked them to identify not so obvious items the soldiers were wearing, trace the path of a soldier on a map, identify our allies in that war, and draw the face of a soldier from the wall engravings.
When we visited the impressive and extensive Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial we walked through long passageways of stones, sculptures, water fountains and more. The memorial spoke of the many quotes Franklin Roosevelt made over his lifetime and the moments that established his legacy. In earning their Washington DC National Mall Junior Ranger badges, my boys drew scenes from the monument and wrote out their interpretations of those scenes. The worksheet also had some fill in the blanks based on the quotes engraved on the wall.
The last Washington DC National Mall Junior Ranger badge worksheet the boys completed was based on the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. To finish this one my boys had to use the wall engravings to fill in the blanks on quotes, use the statue of Thomas Jefferson to predict what they thought symbols on the statue meant, find the words in a word search and match up locations with the moments in Thomas Jefferson’s life.
- After the boys completed 6 worksheets, they shared their work and what they learned with a National Park Ranger. There was a little oath as they were sworn in as Junior Rangers. Then they received their Washington DC National Mall Junior Ranger badges. This special badge was different than the one they had earned in Fredericksburg Battlefield. Their Junior Ranger badge for the Washington DC National Mall is a gold-like plastic shield that they can pin onto their clothing.
When we got back to our room at The River Inn my oldest son (11 years old) wanted to share some of his highlights from earning a Washington DC National Mall Junior Ranger badge.
Washington DC’s Junior Ranger Badges are awesome! In order to get the badge you need to complete at least 6 worksheets from 6 memorials. So when you go to memorials like the Washington Monument, Vietnam War Veterans Memorial, or Thomas Jefferson Memorial, you complete worksheets about the memorial’s history.
At the Vietnam Veterans War Memorial there is a giant black wall with all the names of people who died on that wars. The worksheet… I won’t tell you the answers, but it requires thinking.
At the Washington Monument, we didn’t climb it, but we walked around it and looked at it. The worksheet told us a lot about it. It was fun learning about it.
The Thomas Jefferson Memorial, was awesome though. There were Jefferson’s famous speeches on the walls and a giant statue of Jefferson in the middle too. The worksheet was jam packed with questions also.
I will say that the work of earning this Junior Ranger badge was exhausting for us all, in a good way though. It forced my children to slow down and appreciate the Washington DC monuments and what they stood for. Doing the badge worksheets and interpreting what my boys saw around them was a great way for them to relate to what they learn at school and to connect with that learning and each of us. We had many family discussions going from one monument to the next about the history of our country, present times, and our hopes for the future.
Have your kids earned their Junior Ranger badges from the Washington DC National Mall or anywhere else?
We’d love to hear about their adventures and learning. You can click on the image below to follow the journey of the Jersey Family Fun kids earning their Junior Ranger badges.
Find more of our Washington DC National Mall pictures in our Facebook Gallery.
Make sure your visit to Washington DC includes this free activity for kids.
Click over to see the rest of our Family Travel to Washington DC series for help in planning your family vacation to Washington DC.
To arrange a feature on your location contact Jennifer Auer, Jersey Family Fun editor & publisher at [email protected].