Building an appreciation for history is one way to help kids understand and connect with the world around them. History not only shows how people lived long ago, but it also gives clues about how society evolved into what it is today.
From playing games and visiting museums to exploring cultural heritage sites virtually, there’s no shortage of ways to engage kids in fun history lessons.
From traditional bound books to digital formats, there’s a practically endless list of titles dedicated to historical people, places and events. If your child has an interest in a particular topic, consider starting with an age-appropriate non-fiction book that gives a high-level perspective of the topic. Then delve deeper by looking into biographies about the people involved and even related fictional tales to build knowledge and a broader perspective.
Movies or theater
Like books, there are hundreds of options for historically themed movies and theatrical productions. All you need to do is pick a topic or era. It can also be fun to look at how different movies depict the same historical topic at different points in time. Watching different genres can help give a fuller picture of an event or topic. Informative documentaries and entertaining historical dramas are also options for looking into the past.
Another way to look at history is through visiting historical destinations with cultural significance. Travel isn’t always practical, but you can go nearly anywhere in the world with a virtual tour where you can move around sites and monuments to see the details up close. An option like Flyover Zone’s app-based tours even take you a step beyond seeing the monuments as they look today. You can see ruins as they are today and beautiful virtual reconstructions of how they originally looked.
One example is “Baalbek Reborn,” a tour of Baalbek, a World Heritage Site in Lebanon, that dates back thousands of years. With this free virtual tour, you can explore the ancient city of Heliopolis, meaning “City of the Sun,” in Roman times. Experts from the German Archaeological Institute who explored the site guide you through the tour and show you treasures that have been compared to some of Rome’s most impressive landmarks.
Numerous organizations offer online classes that let you learn about a wide range of historical subjects. Some may offer credit toward a diploma or college degree, but many are simply for the joy of learning. Check with your local library and search the internet for options. Many classes are offered for free and, in most cases, available to do at your own pace in spare time.
Events that celebrate cultural heritage provide a unique look at history and the way it influences modern times. These celebrations often include a well-rounded sampling of everything from traditions to culinary and artistic styles. You can find lectures, demonstrations, performances, sampling and more as you explore the diverse aspects of almost any chosen culture.
Play is an important way kids learn, and historical games can provide insight to the past. While some are more historically accurate than others, games set in a historic time period can provide insight about the scenery, lifestyle and customs of the era. Historic video and board games can even pique an interest in learning more about history through other methods.
Collections of actual artifacts (or replicas) in museums can bring history to life in a tangible way. Especially for younger children, understanding historical details can be difficult. However, seeing museum displays about the kinds of homes or dishes or utensils a historic family used lets kids connect a visual reference with stories they’ve heard, lending a greater sense of reality.