Overview: History is one of those subjects that can be dry and boring – or it can come alive and inspire your kids! Learn these 8 tips for creating engaging lessons!
Why is it that some people absolutely LOVE to study history while others hate it? Is it simply a difference of opinion? Or could it have something to do with the way history is often taught?
If you talk to students who are learning history by reading a textbook, listening to lectures, taking notes, and memorizing dates for a test, you will probably find that a large percentage of them don’t enjoy studying history.
If you talk to students who are learning history by being immersed in the stories, by thinking critically about why things happened the way they did, by actually experiencing the history, you will probably find that a large percentage of them do enjoy studying history.
History is one of those magical subjects that homeschool moms can help to come alive for their children. All of our children’s senses can be engaged while learning the history of our world.
Here are 8 ways to teach your boys how to ENJOY studying history:
1. Allow him to select the time period
My boys and I have studied quite a few different periods in history. Last year, I planned to focus on American History starting with the American Revolution. We’ve studied this time before, however, I wanted to do it again now that my boys are older.
My sons, however, had slightly different thoughts. They wanted to jump ahead and study from World War I to the present. They were more interested in learning about what’s currently going on in our world – and they preferred learning about completely new events versus going back over things they have heard before. Allowing them to choose the time period helped to ensure that my boys would be more interested in what they were learning.
2. Break down the timeline over the school year
After you’ve decided what time period you will be focusing on, break it down so that you know how long you can spend on each span of years or event.
3. Have him read novels about the time period
Reading historical fiction is a great way for history to come alive for him. Good historical novels will capture not only what happened but how people felt about what was happening. These books often recount their triumphs and their struggles. They help our kids to feel like they have experienced the time period.
4. Have him read non-fiction books about the time period
Reading non-fiction is a great way to be sure that your son is learning the facts of what actually happened. A great guide to use to find appropriate books is called All Through the Ages by Christine Miller.
→ Related Content: Modern American & World History with Beautiful Feet Books
5. Have him watch movies about the time period
Most boys have at least a somewhat visual learning style. Allowing your son to watch relevant movies is an excellent way for him to enjoy learning about history.
6. Immerse him in the time period
Hands-on history activities are so much fun! Let your child wear the clothes, listen to the music, try the food, forge the weapons… anything else you can think of that will allow him to experience first hand what someone from that time period might have experienced. If your son is interested in Medieval England and/or wants to know what it would feel like to be a knight in shining armor, consider trying my Time Capsule: Medieval England Unit Study.
7. Take him on field trips
Any time you can take your son somewhere so that he can see first hand the way the people lived, you should consider doing it. Visit colonial villages, castles, forts, American Indian villages, Civil War battle sites, etc. Let your son watch reenactments. Even better, help him to participate! A great place to do this is at Colonial Williamsburg.
8. Find a creative way for him to record what he has learned
Have your son create some sort of project which will help him to remember what he has learned. If he enjoys writing, have him keep a notebook or write a historical novel. If he loves photography, have him create a scrapbook or a photo book. If he’s interested in movie making, have him make a movie or a documentary. If he’s interested in computers or technology, have him create a web page or record a podcast. The possibilities are endless!
I remember being in 8th grade and our teacher had us pretend we were part of a wagon train heading west. He helped us plan what supplies we would need to bring and then we were off. Our teacher had set it up so that each table of kids was in a separate wagon – and different things would happen to us depending on the choices that we made.
If we encountered a river, we could cross safely if we had brought enough rope with us. If the journey took longer than we had expected and we ran out of food, we could hunt for meat if we had brought along a gun. Going on the pretend wagon train was one of the biggest adventures I experienced while in school. We all loved it!
We can and should help history to come alive for our kids. It takes more effort than simply having them read a textbook… but as that famous quote by Winston Churchill says, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.”
It’s worth taking the time for our kids to not only be exposed to the dry facts of history but for us to help them to love it enough to really want to dig into it!
Question: Do your kids enjoy studying history? Do you have any other ideas more making history an exciting subject to learn? Please leave a comment below.