The kids who are successful in school are those who remain curious even after the last bell rings, who notice the world around them, and who make connections among subjects and ideas. There are millions of ways to keep minds of all ages active and engaged outside the classroom.
The following article is part of a Noodle series about how to integrate learning into everyday life in order to instill a love of knowledge in your kids.
The History Edition
Some of the world’s best stories are based in truth, and what is history if not lived stories? Teach kids about people, culture, and how we got here by engaging in these thought-provoking, everyday history activities.
Keep a calendar.
For young children, tracking the day on a calendar is a great way to discuss the passage of time. Practice naming the day, month, and year. Use each month as an opportunity to talk about history. For instance, February is a chance to discuss Black History Month, and December is a good time to talk about the origins of different holidays.
You can also keep short calendar entries about events that happened in your child’s life. By turning back to these from time to time, you teach that history is comprised of real events that happened to real people.
Learn about the history of everyday objects.
“At Home,” by Bill Bryson, is an engaging and informative history of common objects in your house. It answers questions like, “Why does a fork always have four tines?” and “Why is a cupboard called a cupboard?”
Mental Floss is another great resource for odd, historical tidbits from lists of words that started off as mistakes, to facial reconstructions of historical figures. For elementary children and tweens, you can share facts you gleaned. Teens may find it fun to read the same article (or book) and discuss it later.
Talk about movies and books.
How might the story of Cinderella change if it was set in modern society? Who would Robin Hood help if he lived in the 21st century? This is a fun conversation for kids of every age to compare the values and priorities of different time periods, as well as the progression of technology.
Get your dose of daily history.
Check out the New York Times’ On This Day, which shares past headlines from each day in history. Seeing the actual headlines can really bring history to life for older kids and teens, since they see how much has changed and what was important in other eras.
Bring it home.
Find out unusual facts about your region. Real life can be far more ridiculous than fiction. Books like “Weird New England” tell stories about amazing, local people and include beautiful pictures. Take a walk around your hometown and find historical landmarks, monuments, cemeteries, or anything else quirky and fascinating.
Look up your heritage.
Kids are fascinated by where they came from. Go on an Internet search with your child to explore your origins. Try to find pictures and maps of your ancestors’ hometowns. You can even use Google Images to search for your family crest, if you have one, and draw it onto a banner or a shield together. As you color, tell your child stories about your family.
Explore websites like Ancestry.com. For a monthly subscription fee, you have access to dozens of resources — like birth certificates, passenger lists, and researchers — to help discover your family’s past. You can also buy a DNA test to learn more about your unique ethnic origin.
The Internet doesn’t have to be your only time machine. Invite relatives over to tell your children their individual stories. They can bring old pictures and items to make it a hands-on experience.
Look to the stars.
The skies inspired countless stories in different cultures. Discover astronomy together, and use the constellations to learn about Greek mythology and history.
Want more ideas on how to cultivate a love of learning in your child? Check out other parts of this series: