4 Easy Ways to Explore History with Young Children
We start history early with our children because we have so much fun with exploring other time periods. It’s like getting into a time machine and traveling back in time to meet exciting people, observe historic events, and immerse ourselves in a brand-new culture.
I love history! It is a fantastic look at God’s sovereign hand writing a story throughout time with a beginning (Creation), a focal point (Jesus!), and an ending (His Return!). Throughout time, we see God giving sinful people and nations so many chances to turn toward Him before another nation falls and another nation rises.
It is fascinating to discover so many different cultures throughout the world and time who in a special way reflect the glory of God, at least in some small way!
When I introduce my little ones to the study of history, we start with their own unique story. After all, that’s their history!
All About Me
I keep a baby book for each child with pictures and information about their birth and the early years of life. We read when and how they entered the world and see pictures. We tell them how their name was chosen and why it’s so special.
“This is you when you were a baby.” “Here you are learning to walk.” “By this age, you could talk to us in complete sentences.” “Soon after you turned 3, you became a big brother.”
We tell our children: “This is your history! This is the story of you, and your story is just beginning! God has begun a good work in you, and He will finish the job!”
Little booklets are fun to make entitled “My History” or “History of Me.”
My Parents’ Stories
Once children understand their own history, it’s time to move on to their parents’ histories.
I use lots of pictures to show the kids Mom and Dad as little babies, children, teens, and young adults. I tell them where we lived and show them on a map or globe. I talk about what we liked, our hobbies, our siblings, our dreams, our jobs, and anything else that will interest them.
You and your spouse have a history, too. Children can understand that history and then move on to 4 more histories. Yes, you got it! Next is the history of 4 different grandparents.
I filled my home with old pictures of parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and other relatives to surround them with visual history. I hoped it would stir up a love of history, an interest in the folks in those pictures.
These histories eventually lead to statement like this, “Back in the olden days, they…” or “Instead of like we do today, they would .”
Often historical events come up, but in relation to our relative’s history. We might mention grandpa getting the very first home computer or grandma doing the twist at a school dance.
When children understand that they have a history, as well as their parents and grandparents, it’s time to explore a wider range of history. I look for the best stories!
Favorite History Stories
When children are little, I tell them lots of stories from history. Yes, true stories, but also exciting stories full of beauty, adventure, and fun!
My children loved the following true history stories:
- Creation Week/Garden of Eden
- Noah and His Family Rescued on the Ark
- Tower of Babel
- Minoa and the Minoans (They love the bull leaping!)
- Israel’s Escape from Egypt, Wandering in the Wilderness, and Entrance into the Promised Land
- Phoenicians (Expert sailors. Ships are sooooo exciting!)
- David and Goliath
- Persians Conquer the Babylonians
- Jesus’ Birth, Life, Miracles, Death, Resurrection, Ascension
- King Alfred of Wessex (England)
- Marco Polo
- Columbus Discovers the New World
- Pocahontas Saves Captain John Smith
- George Washington’s Military Battles
- Lewis & Clark Expedition
- Pony Express
- Gold Rush
- Booker T. Washington
- Teddy Roosevelt
- The First Flight
How do all these stories fit together?
One thing I like to do is to make a giant timeline on paper. I cut off a roll of butcher paper. I roll it out across the dining room and living room—it’s usually 20 feet long.
I start with Creation and mark off all kinds of important events. I show the children the timeline and where they fall on the timeline, leaving time after us. The timeline ends with Jesus’ Return.
After we have read all the stories, it’s time to show little children the beginning of history (Creation) and where time is right now. Then I remind them of each story and show them on the timeline.
This gives them a sense of the flow of history from beginning to end. Timelines have been the best way to show children how events fit together and in what order.
For more on teaching history the fun way, read these blogs:
Until next time, Happy Homeschooling!
Meredith Curtis, homeschooling mom, writer, speaker, and publisher, loves to encourage families in their homeschooling adventure. She is the author of Travel God’s World Geography, Travel to London Unit Study, My Creation Week Lapbook, and HIS Story of the 20th Century. You can check out her books, curricula, unit studies, and Bible studies at PowerlineProd.com. Read her blogs at PowerlineProd.com and listen to her at Finish Well Podcast.