Keeping History Fun

I was asked this past week how I teach subjects that I never really liked when I was a student. Funny thing was the person mentioned history, which was probably the only subject I truly dreaded when I was in school.

I was fearful to teach history to my kids and hear them grumbling, moaning, and dreading it too.  

History can be interesting and I so badly wanted my kids to be excited about learning everything. 

 I enjoy history now that I'm an adult and I'm not reading textbooks about it.  I find the stories interesting and compelling.  

Over the years I think I've found a few ways to make teaching history fun.

I search and search and search for wonderful engaging stories about the topic we're studying.  I make sure we have a variety of historical fiction and non- fiction stories.

 Notice I didn't say books.  I said STORIES.  

My kids have loved learning about the story behind hiSTORY.  I don't make them memorize dates and names; we focus on the sequence of events and learn how all these people and their lives were interwoven.  It's made it much more interesting for us all.

Some of our favorite books we've read so far:

  • Irena's Jar of Secrets; all about one women who helped thousands of Jewish children from the Warsaw ghetto during World War II.  

  • We love the whole Magic Tree House series for learning history; one of our favorites was Civil War on Sunday.  Though really we loved them all.  They're such a wonderful way to get the kids excited about a period of time in history or a historical figure.  So many of her books have fact tracker books filled with facts about the time period too.  They're just wonderful and the kids relate easily to them.  


    We look for wonderful movies to watch.  Again I try to make sure we have a mix of historical fiction and non- fiction movies to watch.  I also try to find a mix between cartoon and live action films to satisfy the range of ages I have to teach.  Not all movies appeal to all of the boys but they watch enough of them about each given topic that they "get" that period of time.

  • Sound of Music; one families escape from German occupied Austria during World War II

Sound of Music 50th Anniversary 

National Geographic - Lewis & Clark - Great Journey West
  • Pocahontas: a fictional tale of pilgrims and Indians' first meeting up on the shores of the U.S. 

Pocahontas (Two-Disc 10th Anniversary Edition)

This is America, Charlie Brown: The Complete Series
  • Valiant; for a birds eye view of World War II 
Liberty's Kids - The Complete Series
National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets

     We've acted out parts of history and had a scary morning  pretending we were slaves on the underground railroad hiding from our slave owners and the white men.

    I love when we can find some sort of video game to play to go along with our unit too.  Like the time we played The Oregon Trail while learning about the westward expansion or the time we played Hold the Fort learning about the war of 1812.

    We typically plan a few arts and crafts projects to go with our unit making everything from medieval weapons to pyramids to viking ships.  It's fun when there's something hands on that they can remember making to go along with various points in history.  Here are some we've really enjoyed:

    • Making candle holders out of tin for colonial study
    • Building castles out of play-doh for medieval study 

    • Mummifying apples for our Ancient Egypt study 
    • Paper Viking Ships

    • Drawing and painting the Mayflower 

    We go on field trips!  Usually a jumping off point for any history topic starts off with a field trip.  Occasionally we end our history unit with a field trip.  If there isn't someplace locally that pertains to our field trip we might go on a virtual field trip using the internet to help us along.  

    We bake foods from some of the time periods we've studied and talk about the types of foods and materials they had around.  There's nothing quite like eating pumpkin pie filling without sugar or sweeteners that the Pilgrims would not have had access to at the first Thanksgiving.

    How do you keep history fun and interesting for your kids?

    Linking up with:


    1. Wow! This is an amazing post! I love that you've got so many links here to all the wonderful activities that you've done throughout your history lessons. I loved doing these types of history studies, too. Kids will never forget learning this way :) Thanks so much for sharing this at Homeschool Memo Blog Hop!

    2. I love this. It is so much more important to me that they get the stories from history. We do not do any memorization either, though it would be nice for him to know which things happened first. We use Story of the World which is great at telling things in a story manner with lots of books to go along with it. We have had so much fun exploring history.

      Thanks for all the great ideas and for linking up @LiveLifeWell!



      1. I think so too; I really wish I had been taught that way. I think I probably would have found history more interesting if it had been taught like a story.. I'm hoping the order of things will work itself out as we explore more and more and talk about it.


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