All three of our children are hands-on learners. They also have short attention spans. It seems like it wouldn’t be a good combination for teaching history. Am I the only one that thought history was boring when I was young? Based on my impression, that is what I thought teaching history would be like as well – reading long text and hoping they actually absorb some of it. I’m glad to say I was wrong!
Don’t limit yourself to text books when it comes to history because history is all around us! Hands-on learners don’t have to be limited to listening to or reading text and answering questions. History can (and I venture to say should) be hands-on! Here are some ideas to get you started:
Arts and Crafts
The great thing about homeschooling is that we don’t have to limit ourselves to always keeping subjects separate. We love combining them! Arts and Crafts are a great way to make history “come to life!” Projects can be as simple as drawing a picture related to what you are learning to crafts related to that event or time frame.
Are they learning about Native Americans? Build a teepee! This can be done on a small scale with popsicle sticks and construction paper or on a larger scale with long sticks and sheets! Gathering the materials can be part of the fun!
Learning about Christopher Columbus? Build boats or make a paper mache Earth to depict the discovery that Earth is round.
Teaching Biblical History? Make scrolls, bake bread with and without yeast, create pottery, make tablets with the 10 Commandments. The possibilities are endless really!
Acting and Costumes
Who doesn’t love to dress up? Older kids even like to dress up once in a while! Dressing up and acting out scenes in history can instill an appreciation and really make it “real” to hands-on learners. Hands-on learners really need physical interaction to make lessons “stick,” and what better way to learn about history than putting yourself into someone else’s shoes – literally!
You don’t have to buy expensive costumes or props. Simply make the most of what you have around the home. Letting your children come up with the props and clothing is a great way to really get them to see and take in the difference between what they wore then versus what we wear now as they try to adapt their clothing and materials to look like those of that time.
I never thought I’d say I miss living near Washington D.C., but the historical locations there are amazing! Of course, Houston doesn’t lack in great locations. Museums offer a great experience for learning history. Many museums have homeschool days that include more than just a tour but hands-on activities as well. Don’t limit yourself to History Museums. Art Museums, Children’s Museums, and Science Museums all offer pieces of history!
One of our favorite places in Houston is Space Center Houston. They offer a lot of hands-on activities and, of course, amazing historical information regarding the space program and history.
Some other ideas for hands-on history is to go to a cemetery and do gravestone rubbings. If you live near family members’ graves, this is also a great way to learn your own history. It’s a different way to learn the history of the area in which you live, too. View the dates and research information. Be sure gravestone rubbings are allowed as they are not permitted everywhere. Here is more information about tombstone rubbings.
Above all else, have FUN! Hands-on learners really enjoy the experience of learning hands-on. Don’t feel like you have to weigh it down with questions. Let them explore in the ways they understand and learn best!
What are some hands-on history activities you have done with your family?