10 Ways to Make History Come to Life

  When I was a kid I always thought history was boring.  Turns out, it was.  Everything I learned from history was from a school textbook.  In fact, before teaching the Civil War to my own child, the only thing I could tell you about it was from the movie Glory.  Seriously nothing else.  It wasn’t until I was an adult that I began to find history interesting.  So when I decided to homeschool I knew I wanted to make sure to make history come to life for my child.  So in this three part series we are going to start by discussing 10 ways to make history come to life for your child. 1. Seeing History Nothing is better than seeing history in person.  Going to a historical site and seeing it, especially after reading about it, can really bring life to the subject.  I realize that not everyone can do this.  However, it may be easier and more economical than you think.  Where we live there are a surprising amount of ruins, Native American cliff dwellings, archaeological sites, dinosaur excavations, meteor craters, historical buildings and landmarks.  Most of them are less than a 3 hour drive and cost less than a cup of coffee to get into.   One of the best investments we have made is to purchase the America the Beautiful Annual Pass.  The pass costs $80 for the year.  It allows four adults and all kids under 15 to get into any national park for free.  The pass includes access over 2,000 sites in the U.S.  To check it out go to the America the Beautiful Pass Website. It literally pays for itself if you only use it once or twice depending on the landmark.  So look around your neck of the woods, history is waiting! If you have a fourth grader you can apply for the Every Kid Outdoors pass.  This pass allows all kids under 16 (including your fourth grader), as well as 3 adults over 16 to get into over 2,000 national parks for free.  This includes homeschoolers.  You can also apply if you are an educator of 4th graders.  To apply go to Every Kid Outdoors. Junior Rangers Before you go, don’t forget to set your kids up with their very own junior ranger accounts HERE.  This will allow them to find parks online with interactive and printable activities. You can view special places within the parks from your living room. You can also watch wildlife, geysers, and other activities in real time. They can also download junior ranger books HERE.  In addition to this, when you visit local parks, your junior rangers will receive badges each time they go to one of the national parks (as long as they are available).  They can collect stamps and badges along their journey.   All of these interactive activities make these trips more enjoyable and fun. 2. Audio Books Sometimes school is more fun when you don’t call it school.  I started using audio books for history as bedtime stories.  Instead of calling it history or school, I named it storytime.  My absolute favorite is the Story of the World Series read by Jim Weiss (review coming soon).  These are so well received that my child will excitedly ask for them.  Another great series on audio is the I Survived Book Series (also in paperback).   A great audiobook can make history come to life.  For children, it’s like having a fantastic book read out loud by a great storyteller.  If you think bedtime might be too scary for history (history is violent after all), then just do it during the day.  I don’t give tests on this and I don’t ask questions.  We just let it be enjoyed.  Remember, if you don’t call it history or school, they will love it.  If they love it, they’ll remember it. 3. Educational Television That’s right, I’m not opposed to using television as a tool.  There is nothing wrong with high quality videos to teach kids great things.  Amazing videos keep kids engaged and can explain things in a way I am not always able to. But, I use this sparingly and with care.  One of my favorite educational video sites is Curiosity Stream.  It has hundreds of streaming high quality educational videos.  All of them are available for the price of a couple of cups of coffee per year.  What’s not to love?  If you want to read more about them, you can check out my post Where I Find Educational Videos.   4. Lap Books and Hands On Programs It’s a proven fact that connections are made in the brain when you “see, say and do” things together.  Hands-on activities are a great way to solidify what has already been learned.  My favorite is by a company called Homeschool in the Woods.  This family run company produces fantastic world and US history unit studies, lap books and timelines.   Each program focuses on a specific time period and then has hands-on activities that you can do with them.  They include everything from recipes from the time period to miniature reproductions of things.  I have used many of their units and we are never disappointed.  (Full review coming soon!). They are not the only company producing these hands-on products.  However, they produce high quality at an affordable price.   5. Museum Tours-In Person The day I set foot into The Met in New York was mind blowing.  I had no idea what a true museum was like until then.  What most people don’t know is that larger museums like The Met and The Getty have actual tours of the museum.  Different companies will tour you around the museum explaining artifacts and giving historical facts and stories.   These tours will typically have themes.  They take looking at a tiny statue that seems like nothing, and turn it into an entire experience.  It is absolutely worth looking into.  To find a tour group just google “in person tours +

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