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Keeping History Active and Exciting
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When I was a kid, history was one of my least favorite subjects. I loved to write and even loved math, but history seemed like a lot of old, boring dates and facts to remember. I remember one history class in junior high when the teacher had several large blackboards. He would write the facts we needed to know all over the blackboards, and the entire duration of his class was copying that down onto paper. Occasionally, we would have test days to go over what we "learned." I dreaded having to teach history to my children. I didn't want them to have the same experience I did, so I began to look for ways to make history more exciting.

My children love to act things out, so acting out our history lessons came to mind. Of course, this will not work for every lesson, and there might only be a little part of the lesson that you act out, but it is important for your child to feel connected to the information and people. If you are studying something like the American Revolution, you might act out a scene of the Boston Tea Party. Your children could act like they are the colonists sneaking aboard the boat to throw the tea overboard. The couch might be the boat, the tea that they throw over could be balls or confetti, and they might have a feather on a headband to dress up. Acting these scenes out is not only fun but also a learning opportunity. It gives you a chance to talk about the details of what happened.

Another important thing to try to incorporate is field trips. This may look different depending on which history course you are doing, but you can find some really neat field trips if you look hard enough. Living in Virginia, I am blessed with many historical places to visit. If you can't find anything related to your history course near you, get a little creative! By that, I mean, look up things about the place you are interested in and go on a virtual field trip. It might be using the internet or finding books in the library. You can even try to recreate your room to look like the place you are studying. When my children were studying different countries and ancient civilizations, we would look up the various countries online. Sometimes we might make decorations from that country and hang them around the house. But if you do have opportunities to visit historical places, take the time to go.

A third way to try to keep history exciting is to play games. You can turn almost any game into a history game. The way we do that is to answer history questions take a turn or see how many spaces you can move. If your children like board games, you can use those. If your children like to be more active like mine, you can use sports. You can play a game of basketball history. If your child answers a question correctly, they get to take a shot and earn points. You can even have a reward at the end if they reach a certain number of points, but make sure to make it attainable and fun, not discouraging. Many days we do our chapter reviews by playing games this way.

Lastly, presentations are a great way to see what your child is learning. Have your child pick something from the chapter that they like or want to know more about, and then have them do a little presentation to you about it. It doesn’t have to be written down on paper, although it certainly could be. We prefer to do this orally and to keep it fun instead of an extra assignment. This gives me an opportunity to talk about the lesson with my kids as they teach me what they learned. I know if you have several children that you are teaching all at once, this can be very hard but try to be involved in what your children are learning. Ask them questions and encourage their excitement and creativity as they share with you.

By trying to implement these ideas, history has become more exciting in my house. My children are not only learning the information, but they are enjoying it along the way, and so am I. If you are in a rut and need some ideas to keep history active and fun, I hope some of these will help you.

Meet the Author

Heather Spencer - HomeWorks by Precept Consultant


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