Creative Ideas Activities for Homeschool History
Chances are your memories of history class are ripe with lectures, textbook readings, and the occasional outdated movie. But as a history teacher myself, I think history should be exciting and invigorating to learn about! Even with limited resources you can make history super engaging and interesting for your children. With a little creativity and effort, we can bring history to life in our homeschools and spark our children's curiosity and excitement about the past.
6 Ways you can easily make history come alive are
- Role Playing Activities
- Field Trips
- Historical Scavenger Hunts
- Hands on Projects
- A Variety of High Interest Readings & Videos
- History Decisions Activities
One way to make history more engaging is to incorporate role-playing exercises into your homeschool history curriculum. Get your children to step into the shoes of historical figures and act out famous historical events. For example, you could have your children act out a historical event, such as a colonial courtroom trial, living on a medieval fiefdom, or a being a nurse in a Civil War battle. After doing a reading from a text or after a primary source, a role play activity could be really powerful as the text informs their actions and character. This can help them understand the context of the event and the emotions of the people involved. Ensure you give time for them to reflect on the differences between their role play and the real thing.
Another way to make history more interesting for homeschool is to plan field trips to historical sites. Visiting places like museums, monuments, and historic homes can give children a sense of the people, places, and events they're learning about. You might as well take advantage of the flexibility that you have that public school students and teachers don't! Homeschool field trips also provides an opportunity to see and touch artifacts, documents and other historical materials- you might be surprised the power that can have! And don't think just because you do not live near Mt Rushmore or DC that there is not amazing historical sites nearby. This map shows the shortest routes to 50,000 historical sites in the USA.
Obviously, you can’t always be taking field trips, but here’s a creative solution to still get outside and exploring with your children. How about taking scavenger hunts around your town or city looking for legacies and connections to history? Have your children look for connections between the historical concepts they've learned and the world around them. For example, you can have them search for different types of architecture and try to identify the historical period they belong to, or look for examples of different types of transportation and discuss the technology used during different eras. You can also have them searching for the everyday objects and how they connect to the historical concepts they learn. For example, looking at the garbage cans and connecting it to the waste management systems of ancient civilizations and how they were different from today. This type of activity allows children to see the connections between history and their own lives, and it can also be a fun way to explore your local community.
Hands-on projects are also a great way to make history come alive for children. These projects allow children to build their own historical artifacts, such as creating a model of a medieval castle or designing a quilt with a historical theme. These projects allow children to get a hands-on understanding of the material and encourages them to think critically and creatively. With projects its always important to allow for student choice- let your child decide what the project will look like or what they will explore with their research or just let them find the sources they are going to use. That is a great way for them to be empowered and own the learning more.
It's also a good idea to incorporate a variety of resources, such as books, videos, and websites, to supplement your history curriculum. This can help you child understand different perspectives while also keeping learning fresh and balanced- books and reading some days, interactive websites other days, and videos as well. There are great documentaries available on streaming services and lots of great stuff on youtube. You might want to check out my video curriculum as it teachers essential US history topics through story-lectures and there are full lesson plans, quizzes, and activities that go with each video!
Lastly, have your children do 'history decisions' activities. This is where students read or learn about a historical crisis (without learning how it ended or was solved) and they have to problem-solve their way through the crisis and make an action plan for it. This could be as a president- like JFK during the Cuban Missile Crisis or Washington during the Whiskey Rebellion or it could be a merchant on the Silk Road approaching a Mongol horde or Gandhi trying to get independence for India without using violence. This leads to so much critical thinking and makes history come alive because they have to stress out a little and try to respond to a real-life historical crisis! Such a great activity for homeschool history and I have some premade lessons here to check out!
And the more spicy little activities like these you can throw in here and there, the more willing your child will be to do the more 'boring' things like readings and worksheets. If they only do worksheets or notes, it might be pulling teeth, but when you keep learning fun and exciting some of the time, it goes a long way to help your child settle down and still enjoy the quiet learning days as well!