Helping Your Child Learn History
With activities for children in preschool through grade 5
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The activities in this section are arranged into two groups that reflect the meanings of history as story and time. Each group is preceded by a review of three elements of story and time from the perspective of history. The review is meant to give you information that can support your conversations with your child as you do the activities.

For each activity, you'll see a grade span—from preschool through grade 5—that suggests when children might be ready to try it. Of course, children don't always become interested in or learn the same things at the same time. And they don't suddenly stop enjoying one thing and start enjoying another just because they are a little older. You're the best judge of which activity your child is ready to try. For example, you may find that an activity listed for children in grades 1 or 2 works well with your preschooler. On the other hand, you might discover that the same activity may not interest your child until he is in grade 3 or 4.

In a box at the end of each activity, you'll find questions to ask your child about some part of the activity. These questions help your child develop the critical thinking skills he'll need to participate well in society, learn history and learn from history.

When you choose or begin an activity, keep in mind that the reason for doing it is to help your child learn something about history. Whatever the specific purpose of the activity, make sure that it's clear to your child. The information in the introduction and the questions for each activity can help you do this. After you complete each activity, discuss with your child what they learned. For example, making bread is one thing, recognizing bread's historical meaning is another. An added bonus: achieving a goal you set together at the beginning of an activity gives your child the pleasure of a completed project.

The materials you need for these activities are found around most homes. Before starting the activities, give your child a notebook—a history log—in which he can record his own ideas and opinions about each activity. If your child can't yet write, encourage him to draw pictures of what he sees, or tell you what to write for him. In addition, you may want to keep a camera nearby so that your child can include photographs in his history log. You may also wish to have him decorate and label a shoebox to use for keeping history-related items and project materials.

Finally, feel free to make changes in any activity—shorten or lengthen it—to suit your child's interests and attention span.

We hope that you and your child enjoy the activities and that they inspire you to think of additional activities of your own. Let's get started!

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Last Modified: 02/11/2009