I’m so excited to welcome Jayda Justus, aka The History Mom, to my blog for a great post about virtual field trips, history podcasts and other ways to add a little tech to your hands-on history for kids learning.
One of the best ways to teach history for kids is through travel.
Actually seeing a place where an important event happened and walking in the footsteps of the historical figures that you are learning about is an impactful and fun way to learn about history. It transforms boring dates and facts into stories where your child is a character.
With the start of the school year, however, travel may not be as feasible as during the summer. I have found that there are several ways to
1. Virtual Field Trips
Many historical sites and museums now have a “virtual field trip” provided on their website.
Art and natural history museums led the way in providing virtual tours online but historical sites are catching up! Can’t make it to Mount Vernon to see George Washington’s study? Take a virtual tour of the home and you can make it come alive to your kids without a plane ticket!
I have learned that most National Park Service sites do not have a virtual tour but private museums likely do.
Some of my favorite virtual tours are:
Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia
Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC
2. History for Kids Apps
There are several new history apps that provide a virtual field trip to historical sites. You don’t have to leave your house to tour the Great Pyramids or the ruins of Pompeii! These include:
Clio – a location-based app to show you history where you are.
State-sponsored sites like Virginia History Trails. Check to see if your state has one!
3. History for Kids Podcasts
Podcasts are a great way to learn about
4. Online Museum Resources
Many historical museums provide online resources for teachers or homeschooling parents to bring the museum to them. Why reinvent the wheel when you can use the information already gathered by the experts in the field you are teaching?
Whatever your history topic, look at the major sites in that field to see what’s available. Examples include:
American Revolution: Mount Vernon
Civil War: American Civil War Museum
World War I: National WWI Museum
European history: The travel writer, Rick Steves, has a very informative classroom site.
5. Books on History for Kids
Of course, providing books, both fiction and non-fiction, about a place or event is the best way to travel back in time or to a specific place. Losing yourself in a novel really immerses you in the sights, sounds, and language of the time.
Plus the added bonus is that if you do get to travel to the site in the future, your child will be so excited to walk in the character’s footsteps.
Reading a book about the site, either before or after the trip, really enhances a child’s learning about the event and makes personal! Here are a few great resources for book suggestions for historical travel:
The History Mom: My own site where I always suggest books to go along with the historic sites and museums that I review.
I truly believe that kids become interested in history when they realize that the facts and dates of history are just part of the larger story. By using some of these resources, your children will be able to start making history part of their story.
Jayda Justus is a writer and blogger at The History Mom, where she reviews historical sites and experiences for families. These reviews provide helpful tips and reading lists to enhance visits for children and families and encourages parents to make history sightseeing part of their vacations. She is originally from Kings Mountain, NC and lives in the Richmond area with her family. Her blog can be found at www.thehistorymom.com.