Sometimes, even with the most interesting time period, it can be hard to remember what happened or who did what. One way to help students (and anybody really) increase their retention of historical information is to bring history to life. But what exactly does that mean? Since we can’t travel back in time, it means visiting reenactments, living history museums, or performing reenactments in your home!
Visiting historical sites and reenactments can make the past more real to your child. They’ll be able to see historical people living, working, and fighting just as they would have back then. They’ll meet George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. They can witness the hardships slaves would have faced. They can see the work women did to help soldiers and raise families. They can meet historical heroes and even some “villains.”
Here are some examples of fun living history museums you’ll definitely want to visit:
Plimoth Plantation - Take a step back to the 17th-century with this Massachusetts living history museum. You can check out anything from the Mayflower II to a Wampanoag Homesite.
Conner Prairie - Jump forward to the 19th-century and learn about scientific discoveries at Indiana's Conner Prairie Interaction. They have interactive activities, farm animals, a prairie town to explore, and more!
Shoal Creek Living History Museum - This Missouri experience showcases 17 19th-century buildings that you and your family can explore. As someone who’s volunteered to be a reenactor at Shoal Creek (when I was in middle school!), I’d definitely recommend visiting the site.
To find more examples of museums to visit check our other articles here.
But what can you do when there aren’t living history museums nearby that cover the time period you’re studying? My first suggestion would be to visit a regular history museum to learn more about the subject. Sometimes museums will have activities listed online that they provide to help students learn more about a specific time period.
Next, you can bring history to life at home. To some people, that might mean renting a costume and having your children try it on. To others, it could mean traveling to the fabric store and having your students feel the types of cloth that people would have worn. Ask your students to try chores and games from that time period. You can watch movies and online videos or create your own content to share. Read historical writing from nonfiction to fiction to poetry. You can learn so much about life in the trenches from reading a poem written by a World War I poet.
Historical Conquest’s American Revolution Curriculum provides dozens of interactive activities that can help you bring history to life inside your home or school. To learn more about our curriculum or game check out Historicalconquest.com.