I love history! I wouldn’t have been caught dead saying that back when I was in school. Maybe it’s part of becoming older because I hear a lot of adults say they love history, but not a lot of kids.
I think that the dislike may also lie in the way we teach history. Names, dates, and dry facts are boring. History is a story – our story – and who doesn’t love a great story? So, how do you make history fun, interesting, and relevant? Let me offer you some tips!
Include historical fiction
Historical fiction is probably my #1 favorite way to make history come to life! What better way to learn about a period of time than to plop yourself down in the middle of the action? Books like Johnny Tremain, Across Five Aprils, and Janie’s Freedom helped us understand their respective time periods far better than any textbook ever could have.
Some of my other favorites include: The Magic Tree House, the American Girl, the Dear America, and the My Name is America series. Period literature is fantastic, too. I loved The Adventures of Robin Hood and The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Read engaging biographies
An excellent biography is another sure-fire way to make history exciting because it allows readers to experience history through the lives of those who lived it. I wish I could remember the exact biography Brianna read about Eleanor Roosevelt. She really enjoyed it and actually learned a great deal about that period in history because her eyes weren’t glazed over – she was engaged.
When we study history, I like to include one historical fiction or period literature book and one biography for each six weeks. That’s a little trick I learned while we were using Trail Guide to Learning and it has served us well ever since.
The Heroes of History series contains some of the best biographies we’ve ever read. It’s my go-to series choice for biographies. For younger kids, I absolutely adore David Adler’s series, Picture Book Biographies.
Incorporate hands-on learning
Y’all know an article about making history more fun is going to include hands-on learning. How could it not? There are so many ways you can get hands-on when studying history. Try:
- Making costumes
- Preparing period-themed meals
- Building models
- Making products and handicrafts from the period
- Playing period games
- Experimenting with related art projects
Check out 100 Hands-On Activities for Middle School and High School for specific, history-themed learning activities (scroll down to the “history” heading) for older students.
Watch movies and documentaries
For the more visual learners among us, movies and documentaries are another fantastic resource for making history fun. My kids and I love the Drive Through History documentary series. Being able to learn history while laughing hysterically is win-win.
I also really love movies for supplementing history study. Sometimes I have difficulty picturing everyday life of different historical periods, even when I’m reading a great book, so to see it played out on screen is really helpful – even when the movie is mostly fiction. For example, I seriously considered watching The Mummy with my older kids when we were studying Ancient Egypt, just so we could all more easily picture the setting and the clothing of the period.
History is so much more than dry, boring facts. Don’t just read about history – use these tips to experience it!
What do you do to make learning history fun?