My grandfather was a history teacher. As I was growing up he instilled a love of history in me and none of it was from a book. He would often bring out the atlas and have me search for places in it. Quizzing me about state capitals became a fun game we looked forward to playing every summer.
Today, classroom history is very textbook based. It can be hard for teachers to take history off the page and still manage to cover all the material in the syllabus. For this reason, history can be perceived as “boring.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few ways to bring this great subject to life, on the fly.
Turn Your Child Into a Fact Detective Find out what your child is studying in school and then send them on a hunt for more information. It can be a physical hunt (the library) or a virtual one (the web). Ask questions for your child to research and help them find the answers if they aren’t old enough to search on their own.
Take a Virtual Field Trip Many museums have virtual tours you can do online, with kids-only areas. For example, The Smithsonian Institute and the White House both have sections where kids can check out exhibits and see photos. For those studying our country’s early days, The Oregon Trail Virtual Tour is another winner. Foster a Love of History History isn’t only about famous people and infant countries. Your past and your family’s beginnings are history, too. Talk to your kids about it. Old family photos are a great way to explore the fashion, cars, or architecture of the past. Explore places in your town or your state that have historic significance. Children often have no idea how history has built upon itself to make the world we live in today.
History doesn’t have to be text based. By helping to take it off the page, your children can learn that it’s a living breathing thing, passed on from generation to generation. My grandfather taught me more than I could have ever learned in school because he gave me more than the facts. And in doing so, he inspired a lifelong passion.
For the Smithsonian check out: www.smithsonianeducation.org/students/
For the White House look at: www.whitehouse.gov/kids/
For the Oregon Trail Virtual Tour go to: www.idahohistory.net/otprologue.html/