Teaching History in Non-Traditional Ways

As a homeschooling mom, I’m always looking for creative ways to teach my kids. Making homeschool curriculum choices isn’t always easy, but you at least have the flexibility to create a syllabus that’s as entertaining as it is informative.

Unlike other subjects like math, it’s easy to fully immerse a young student in history and make a lesson really come to life. You can get out of the house and surround yourself in the subject matter instead of relying on a textbook. Here are a few non-traditional ways any parent can teach history and make it more fun for their kids.

Collect Historical Artifacts

An entertaining way to teach history is through tangible objects that can be collected. Kids are sure to have fun collecting things like artwork, stamps, and coins that you can use as a history lesson. For example, you can cover American history by collecting quarters from all 50 states.

Another cool collectible idea is autographs and personal items from historical figures. Curators like the Raab Collection have historical autographs for sale that bring a figure to life in new ways for young students. Usually the autographs are on official documents that can act as a teaching aid in and of itself. They can also provide a glimpse into what life was like during a particular period.

Explore History Through Food

Food is an important part of every culture and region that can evolve over time. Many of today’s most popular dishes have a backstory that can be connected to an event, place or people in history. One fantastic example is Captain Sander’s Pork and Navy Bean Soup. While studying the Civil War the kids and I made the soup as a way of getting a taste of what it was like to live in the 1800s.

Visit History Museums

History museums are like huge, interactive classrooms. They’re usually geared towards a specific subject, time period, culture or the local area. The good news is you aren’t limited to the museums in your immediate area or city. Most history museums have websites where your kids can virtually explore exhibits and information.

But that’s not all. Google Museum Views uses Google Street View technology to create virtual tours that allow you to walk through a museum – no expensive VR headset required. It’s a great option for grade school, high school and college students who are studying art history. There are also Museum View tours of heritage sites across the world to further expand your virtual immersion into history.

Visit Memorials and Monuments

Memorials and monuments are a way of honoring important figures and events that influenced history. They’re created so that we won’t forget the past and can continue to learn from it.

The large scale of most monuments and memorials has a real impact on kids. It seems to impress the importance of the history on kids in a way that they remember. A great side lesson that can be learned is that monuments can have a unique meaning for each person because of our own history and unique backgrounds. They bring people together yet are special to each individual.

Open an Ancestry.com Account

There are so many historical stories behind a family tree, and because it involves your ancestors, kids are more likely to be interested. Ancestry.com can help you track down family members using all sorts of historical documentation. There are census bureau reports, newspaper clippings, pictures and more. Discovering where your ancestors came from can also be a great introduction into world history and studying the cultures of other countries.

Watch a Reenactment

All around the country, particularly in the south and northeast, you can find groups of people who get together to reenact historical events, battles or everyday life from years past. Reenactments are sometimes held out in an open public space, fort, historic farm, plantation or historical home. There are also entire living history museums that are like taking a step back in time.

If reenactments aren’t a part of a museum program, they’re orchestrated by the local historical society. The National Park Service also puts on Living History Reenactment Events in select locations throughout the US.

About the author: Katherine Smith (Kat) is a San Diego based freelance writer who enjoys writing on a wide variety of fitness and entertainment topics. In her free time Kat enjoys the beach and playing volleyball with family and friends. Image: Phil Roeder

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