ABC and 123: A Learning Collaborative: Teaching with Ticia: Hands on History

Monday, July 16, 2012

Teaching with Ticia: Hands on History

Yesterday at church one of my students told me history is boring.  I just about cried in frustration thinking all he is missing out on.

Then I realized it's because he's not being taught it right, and sadly many teachers fall into this trap because they didn't enjoy it either, so they try to do as little as possible with it.

So, to help any other kids from thinking history is boring, let me give you a few simple ideas to make it more interesting:

War of 1812
1.  Act out battles.  It doesn't have to be elaborate.  This battle is acted out using scrap fabric, figures from games, and empty boxes.  Acting it out gives you a better idea of what happened and how.

French and Indian War
2.  Show it on a map.  If they don't know where it happened or how it affects them, than it's useless to them.

Steps to the American Revolution
3.  Use props.  Many kids are visual learners, give them something to associate it with that isn't just a textbook.

Fountain of Youth
4.  Built it.  Build famous landmarks, build buildings, build maps.

5.  Watch it.  National Geographic has some amazing specials that are available on Netflix and many are age appropriate for early elementary.  Liberty Kids came out a few years ago and is an excellent show about the American Revolution.

6.  Visit it.  Almost every city I've visited has some sort of living history museum, or even just a history museum.  I'm lucky to live by 2 history museums, and 1 living history museum.  Go to them.  Talk to the enactors, talk to the docents, they'll have all sorts of interesting tidbits for you to think about.  Fun stories.

Ohio: Neil Armstrong
7.  Read it.  Find picture books and read them, find classic books and read them.  Do you know how we know about the French Revolution of 1832?  Primarily from Victor Hugo's novel "Les Miserables,"  How did we find the city of Troy?  Archeologists pieced together things from the Iliad to find it.  Books have amazing ways to engage us, and teach us so much while entertaining us.  Most of my geography posts are chock full of wonderful picture books with history in them.


  1. These are great ideas! I had to laugh at the acting out battles idea--my daughter would love that! Her favorite scripture stories lately all include good guys conquering bad guys...and she loves to act them out!

  2. Thanks for sharing these great ideas! I LOVE history and it's so important that we make it enjoyable for our kiddos! Great ideas!


  3. Thank you for the post on history. History is very abstract for children and we have to bring it to life for them. The more hands-on we can make it the better.

    I even take a world map into church when I teach Childrens Church. I always show the children the map and talk about the locations in the Bible. We forget that they have no context. We have to help them build context. :)

    1. I've done that too at my church. It helps with placing things.