They say that those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it.
But one of the problems with this is that it’s not always easy (or fun!) to learn history in a classroom setting. Most history classes call for kids to do little more than sit and read out of a textbook.
If you’re a teacher looking to put a fresh spin on your history lessons, there are all kinds of ways that you can get out there in the world and do it.
Take a look at seven unique ways kids can learn history outside of the classroom below.
1. Take a Trip to a Museum
There are more than 35,000 museums in the country today. And just about all of them are filled to the brim with historical paintings, artifacts, and more.
If there is a museum in your city or in a neighboring city, put together a field trip for students that will expose them to all the history found inside of one. This is actually a great idea both for those who teach history classes and for those who teach other types of classes, like art and even music classes.
Kids can learn history by soaking up everything a museum has to offer. Have them tell you all about it by doing a project on the trip once you get back into the classroom.
2. Visit a Historical Place
No matter where you might live, there’s a good chance that there are at least a few historical sites there.
Whether it be the site of a major battle during the Civil War or a home that was once owned by a prominent person, there is history in every city and town all across America.
Schedule a visit to a historical place in your general area to give kids a new appreciation for it. They very well may have driven past a place hundreds of times now without realizing all the rich history located inside of it.
3. Meet With a Historian
There aren’t very many historians operating within the U.S. right now. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says there are only a couple hundred of them in the country.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in a place with a historian located nearby, why not have them help kids learn history? You can bring them into your classroom or have them suggest a more appropriate setting for a history lesson.
Historians can tell kids everything they need to know about specific time periods. They can also tailor their lessons to whatever kids are learning about in school at the time. For example, with history comes a lot of mythology, people can link events and ‘beings’ to certain time periods, resulting in speculation and stories, some are facts, and others are fiction (depending on who you ask). This opens up history for everyone to dive into different periods and see what is still alive in people’s minds today. There is a long history of religion throughout the world, so kids may learn about angels and what a Cherub is, as well as other kinds of religions and their beliefs. The great thing about history is that there is always more to learn.
4. Attend a Reenactment of a Historical Event
You can spend weeks at a time teaching kids all about, say, the Battle of Gettysburg. You can go over the reasons for it, the things that happened during it, and the result of it.
But even then, kids might not feel like they have a firm grasp on what the Battle of Gettysburg was all about. You would be a whole lot better off showing them the Battle of Gettysburg in the form of a historical reenactment.
There are lots of different historical reenactments that Americans should check out, if at all possible.
They’ll give people a first-hand look at what took place during battles and other important events—and help them understand these events better than any textbook could.
5. Go See a Historical Movie
Hollywood is always looking for ways to make new movies. And one of the things they’ve done time and time again is turn to history to help come up with movie ideas.
The result has been movies like the 2012 hit, Lincoln.
When you see that a historical movie is about to make its way into theaters, think about taking a class of kids to go see it. Most kids love watching movies, so you can really drive some of your history lessons home by using movies to your advantage.
6. Make Your Way to a Cultural Event
There are cultural events that take place in cities and towns throughout the country every weekend. These events often feature everything from great music to delicious foods that are inspired by the culture that’s being celebrated.
While you might not necessarily think “history” when you see an advertisement for one of these events, they provide an excellent opportunity for kids to learn history. You can educate them about a particular culture and its history through a cultural event.
At the same time, it won’t feel like learning when everyone is dancing, eating, and having a good old time.
7. Find a History-Themed Escape Room
Escape rooms have become all the rage in recent years. There used to only be a handful of them in the U.S., but today, there are more than 2,000 of them scattered throughout the country.
These escape rooms all rely on themes to make them fun for people. From haunted house themes to safari themes, people can pick and choose which themes they like best and take part in escape rooms inspired by those themes.
For history students, something like this Revolutionary War escape room would be perfect. It would let them enjoy everything an escape room has to offer while also providing them with history lessons at every turn.
Make It More Fun for Kids to Learn History Lessons
Are you finding it difficult to get a room full of kids to learn history out of a textbook?
Shake things up by giving one of the ideas listed here a try. Whether you take students to a historical reenactment or sign them up for an escape room, they’ll have a ball learning about history thanks to your outside-the-box approach to teaching it.
They’ll also be more excited to learn history from now on. It’ll be something that they’ll want to do as opposed to something that they feel like they have to do.
Check out our blog for more tips on helping kids make the most of school.