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The Brilliant Way to Teach History for Kids – 5 Tips from The History Mom

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 virtually travel that make learning fun!

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.

History-for-kids-mount-vernon
via The History Mom

Some of my favorite virtual tours are: 

Mount Vernon and Monticello in Virginia

Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia

Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC

Dutch Resistance Museum and the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam

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!

Google Earth

3. History for Kids Podcasts

Podcasts are a great way to learn about history and to “travel” to many historical sites.  Some of my favorite podcasts that really make history come alive include:

Rick Steves’ Europe podcast and audio tours (pair the audio tours with Google Earth and the location will really come alive!)

Presidential 

History Unplugged

history-for-kids-Philadephia
via The History Mom

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 history: Library of Congress and National Museum of American History, National Women’s History Museum

Colonial times: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation and the Jamestown/Yorktown Foundation

American Revolution: Mount Vernon

Civil War: American Civil War Museum

Early 1900s: Tenement Museum

World War I: National WWI Museum

World War II: National WWII Museum and the US Holocaust 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. 

The Educational Tourist

The Best Children’s Books

Read-aloud Revival

Brightly 

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

Looking for More History for Kids Ideas?

Top 5 American History Interactive Resources

The Ultimate List of Free (or Nearly Free) High School Electives

Where in the World: 5 Geography Apps to Help Your Map Skills

history-for-kids-pin

13 thoughts on “The Brilliant Way to Teach History for Kids – 5 Tips from The History Mom

  1. Thanks! I’m going to Pin this for future reference. I’ve always created my own US History curriculum and these look like some awesome additions!

  2. I love it!!! I don’t remember any of the history that I learned in school, but my kids do. I totally believe it is from our homeschool experience of traveling to places, and having experiential units where they fully immersed in a time period and place. I love your suggestions on how to really dig in, and great resources.

  3. In my case you’re preaching to the choir (former history teacher here) – but YES! We like to combine historical fiction with history written for kids + actual trips. Yesterday we visited a recreated 19th century New England village, and had a great time comparing the relative advancement of life there to the late 19th C American frontier; earlier this summer, we spent 2 weeks roadtripping to every Laura Ingalls Wilder site we could, since my girls and I have been reading the books, and comparing the “real” history to the sanitized, selective version she wrote in her children’s stories.

  4. I love the idea of a Virtual Field Trip! My son is all about videos for everything, so that is definitely a more appealing way to go for him than books or podcasts. Thanks the for the inspo!

  5. These tips are pure genius! I love the idea of a virtual field trip, we are planning to Homeschool our now 2 under 3-year-old girls! So these are perfect! Thank you!

  6. I wish this was around when I was teaching! I love the fact that there are many virtual tours available now. I may have to go through one for my own amusement, haha!

  7. It is always good for kids to see historical things in person. We have been going to museums and historic sites so that the kids can learn more about local history.

  8. My most fond memory in school regarding history, was when I did a hands-on activity learning about the Nile River and how it overflowed for the Egyptians. Hands-on is definitely my favorite way to learn.

  9. What a cool reference to some great teaching opportunities. I’m so excited to show my girls the Mount Vernon Virtual Tour. Going there myself I can explain first hand what it was like.

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