I don’t know about your kids but mine aren’t exactly history buffs.
Let’s face it, if presented the wrong way history can be really, really boooorrinnngg.
When I was in High School my U.S. History book acted like a sedative for me. I can’t tell you how many times I woke up face down on the chapter I was supposed to be reading.
History doesn’t have to be boring though. I think it is fascinating to learn about how people once lived, and the events and conflicts that have shaped our nation and world… but only if it is presented in the right way.
Lists of names, dates, and facts written in a dry, tedious way… that’s just not the way to learn.
As I mentioned before my kids retain so much more when they’ve experienced and been excited about what they’re learning. So I’m making it my mission this year to bring history to life for them.
#1- Historical Fiction– A friend of mine told me about an article she read that showed kids retain more historical knowledge reading historical fiction then they do history books. This makes so much sense. When you care about the characters it is more interesting and more memorable. Whether it’s classics like “Johnny Tremain” or “Call it Courage” or something newer like The American Girl or Magic Tree House books… a great story may be the way to go!
#2- Museums & Monuments– This may seem like a no brainer but I don’t think can be over looked. Museums can be kind of boring too, but only if you let them. Find a museum that has artifacts of the historical period you’ve been studying. Learning about Ancient Egypt? Make up a scavenger hunt of things to find while you’re there or try to find something you didn’t learn about so you can look it up when you get home!
#3- Movies & Documentaries– Do you know there is a Homeschooling with Netflix Facebook group? There are so so so many movies, tv shows and documentaries out there that can enhance your learning experience. Netflix, YouTube, your local video store or library… they’re all a wealth of enrichment for your kids.
#4- Weird Facts– Do you know who Anthony’s favorite president is? Thomas Jefferson. Want to know why? It’s because he discovered the fossil of a Giant Ground Sloth in a cave in West Virginia… Think I’m making that up? Go here, or Google it… totally true. There are some weird and amazing historical facts that we never learn about in school. And guess what? They’re super interesting. I recently learned about an entire series of books called Horrible Histories that highlights the strange, gross and wacky events of history. I’m totally going to try them out with my boys!
#5- Timelines– Whether you’re studying the Civil War, The Ancient Greeks, or several different areas of history, timelines are a great help. Having a visual of what happened when, and how the events relate to each other can help kids understand the bigger picture. It can help make sense of lots of people or events and how they effected each other.
#6- Events and Exhibitions– Sometimes history really does come to life and taking your kids to see it is an awesome idea. Civil War reenactments, Medieval fairs, Pioneer days and more. Local parks and historical sites often offer events free of charge throughout the year. Even fun events like Renaissance fairs can be a learning experience. Look around for places in your area and see what they have to offer throughout the year.
#7- Listen to the Music- Learning with music is a great way to retain information. But I’m not talking about songs filled with facts although those have their place. I’m talking about listening to the music from the time period. The Renaissance, The Civil War, Slavery, WWII, The 60’s … all have music that is distinct to that time period. Music can help kids relate, help to understand the emotions of the time, and help them remember that time period in history.
So there you have it my friends. History does not have to be tedious and boring. It does not have to put you to sleep and leave drool on your textbook. It can be fun, interesting, and exciting!
Hope this helps as you look to the upcoming school year! Let me know your favorite way to study history!
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