It’s hard to appreciate history by just reading a book. It is far more interesting to go back in time and experience history, and much more relevant to put yourself in the shoes of people who are like you who lived long ago.
Young children have a hard time relating to timelines. For them, two decades ago and two centuries ago feel the same – ancient news.
How do you get an understanding nod from kids when it comes to history? How do you make it fun?
1. Pick a local spot that has a story to it, and explore it with your kids. Every city and town has some historical aspect to it. Discover it for yourself and bring your kids along. Ask questions to get them thinking or turn the day into a scavenger hunt.
2. Tell the story in relation to someone they know. “Your grandmother would have been your age when this happened to her. How do you think she would have felt? What would she have thought?”
3. If your community does an historical reenactment, make a point of checking it out. If costumes and props are involved, there is nothing like bringing history to life. There are also living history museums across the country that may offer free days or events to explore. Here are a few I know of:
· Mission San Juan Bautista (California)
· Battle of Lexington & Concord (Patriot’s Day -- Massachusetts)
· American Revolutionary Battles at Sturbridge (Massachusetts)
· Plymouth Plantation (Massachusetts)
· Jamestown, Yorktown & Williamsburg (Virginia)
4. If there is a place you would like to visit that is represented in a children’s novel or story read it before taking them there. A few favorites:
· Read “Little House on the Prairie” before visiting Mansfield Mo.
· Read “Johnny Tremain” before visiting Boston
· Read “Call of the Wild” before visiting Alaska
· Read “Felicity An American Girl” before visiting Williamsburg
· Read “Taking Liberty” before visiting Mount Vernon
· Read “Diary of Anne Frank” before visiting Amsterdam
· Read “Farewell to Manzanar” before visiting Manzanar CA (for high school age kids)
If you have examples of how you’ve brought history to life for kids, please share below!