Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Guest Post: Making History Fun for Younger Kids

One of the toughest parts of teaching is instilling students with an eagerness to learn. When education is presented through the fine print of textbooks, it can get tedious and exhausting quickly – especially for elementary school students. Younger minds can benefit from being taught through a number of different methods, many of which can reintroduce history as a fun subject, rather than a stuffy one.

One thing any elementary school teacher should look into is what educational resources are available nearby. For example, the Chickasaw Cultural Center in Sulphur, Okla., has a wide range of interactive learning modules for children, as well as other historical recreations that can teach local history to children in new ways. Similar venues are likely available in your area and could be utilized as an educational field trip for your class.

But whether you're loading onto a school bus or staying in the classroom, kids are likely to respond better to learning history when the lessons don't come straight from a textbook. Following are some ideas for getting students excited about history.

Immersive learning

Although it might depend on the offerings of your region, immersive learning is a great learning tool and a fun change of pace for teachers as well as students. Find a museum or historical site offering exhibits or other learning modules relevant to what you're teaching in your classroom, and plan a school field trip to the location. If that's not an option, many historical societies and cultural centers feature extensive online resources that kids will enjoy using.

Reenactments

Teaching kids about a famous battle or other historical event? Turn it into a classroom or playground performance by having students reenact the scene. Assign parts to various students and get everyone involved as you recreate a historical moment in history, giving kids a first-hand view of what the moment might have looked like.

Educational videos

Watching a class video is a tried-and-true method of mixing up teaching strategies to engage children. When you have your students watch an educational video – even old Saturday morning cartoons like Schoolhouse Rock – they'll feel like they're taking a break from their regularly scheduled learning. They are, in a way, but that doesn't mean that learning isn't occurring – it's just being presented in a different form.


Computer games

Computer games have had a foothold in classrooms throughout the last couple of decades, with educational video games offering the chance for kids to exercise their gaming muscles while still managing to learn something. Educational games can be one of the best ways to get students to have fun while learning about history.

Even if you're dealing with a limited school budget, you should be able to find ways to diversify your teaching methods. History can be a dry subject for young students who don't grasp its significance, but by getting them actively involved in the learning process you might be able to spark an interest in them. If you're lucky, it might even pique your own interests.

-Maire Hunter

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