Make History Come Alive This Summer

It doesn’t matter if our kids are homeschooling during the summer or not, the season presents a number of great opportunities for fun and education at the same time. From Memorial Day to the 4th of July to Labor Day, there are lessons to be learned for kids of all ages. Start planning your summer teaching lessons with these great activities now!

1 – Get Printables

SchoolExpress offers great printables for free that you can use to teach math, writing, colors, or puzzles. No matter what the child’s age, these printables are a great addition to your summer routine. Look for ones that have historical scenes or characters on them, or ones that reinforce quotes or specific ideas.

2 – Teach Past Presidents

This can be an exhaustive task, but if you narrow your focus on just the top five to ten presidents of all time, you can easily cut back on the heavy work. To make the task more interesting and impactful to your kids, look for visual ways to make your points and to make these men more real to them. There are sites that can help. The Raab Collection, experts in historical documents and autographs, offers a number of lessons on presidents like Abraham Lincoln. Showing your children actual documents, used in the forming of our country, can make history come alive in a whole new way.

3 – Teach Historical Places

There are a number of great historical locations around the country. If there is one close to home, take a day trip there to learn more about how your area fits in to the greater picture of our country. Maybe a Civil War battle took place there, or something significant was invented nearby. It doesn’t have to be something huge like the signing of the Declaration of Independence or the site of the final spike of the Transcontinental Railroad to be fun and educational. Sometimes it’s the smaller lessons and accomplishments that make history more real to kids.

If you don’t want to drive or don’t have a location nearby, you should visit the lessons that Teaching with Historic Places offers. You can get lessons on America’s battle for independence, the Civil War, the Great Depression and many others. By tying history to locations, kids are better able to connect with events than they are out of a history book alone.

4 – Create the American Flag

Teach your children about the significance of the stars and stripes while giving them hands-on experience creating their own. For younger kids, you can use construction paper and sticky foam stars to decorate them. Older children can use this as an opportunity to learn to sew, knit or crochet as well, combining real world skills and a history lesson! Be sure to talk about how the flag has changed over the years. When they are done, hang them up for decorations in their room or around the house, or give them as gifts to a nursing home or Veteran’s home.

5 – Make a Timeline

What better way to teach kids how America went from being a colony to an independent nation, for example, than by creating a timeline? There are resources available to help them research the events and map the timeline themselves. This also works great for the Civil War era or even from 1900 to present day. Include things like wars, significant events like elections of presidents and major inventions. You can do one big timeline, or do several smaller ones that focus on one area of history at a time.

6 – Make a Map

This activity pairs perfectly with the timeline and teaching historical places. In addition to creating a timeline of events, you can have the kids map out where important events take place. USHistory.org has great information to help with the mapping process. Add other locations like where you and other relatives live, landmarks and so forth so kids can make a personal connection to the events. Older children can use the information to calculate distances from home and you can make up math and geography quizzes from the data as well.

7 – Study the Documents that Make History

This is more appropriate for older kids from age 8 and up. Take time to read through and talk about the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, The Gettysburg Address and others. Once the conversation comes to an end, you can have your children take an assessment quiz to find out how much they remember and understand.

8 – Play a Game

Most kids love role-playing at any age. Learn about one of the events in history, then have the kids divide into teams to re-create the event as they remember it. Let them use props and costumes to add an extra layer of fun. Civil War reenactments, the Gold Rush, Washington crossing the Delaware and so many others will be more memorable when they “take part” in the events themselves. While it’s important they learn from the game, remember to let them have fun with it and enjoy it in their own way as well.

With these 8 activities, you can keep the summer fun and keep the learning going without them even realizing it!

Photo by: Lucelia Ribeiro

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Jethro

I'm Jethro. I'm a carpenter, and love to build things! You can find me in the garage or at work most days of the week. My sister is Crystal, who you might know from this very blog. Her son Johnny loves video games just as much as I do - so we have a lot of fun playing together!

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