I can remember, as a child, my eyes beginning to wilt whenever my teachers gave a lecture on history. What did I care about the events that happened before my lifetime, or people who passed on centuries ago?
It wasn’t until my father took me to my first Civil War reenactment that history came to life for me. I heard the deafening sounds of the cannons and the music of the fife and drums. I smelled the surrounding smoke and saw the passion in the eyes of the soldiers. What my father taught me that day was not only that history was still alive, but it was fascinating.
Living history is a great way for children to see first hand the events that formed our country. These events take the images and words from the history texts and turn them into real life occurrences, not just teaching children about history, but showing them as well. What better way to have a child learn about the gunfighters of the West than to see a live action show, or to see how Colonial silver was forged than to visit an artisan fair.
Living history museums and public events are offered all throughout the country, in every state. From the colonists in Williamsburg to the solders in Afghanistan, history reenactors educate by demonstration and story telling, capturing the fascination and attention of children and parents alike. Most reenactors will come in costume to your school to give a talk, or offer a demonstration in your local community. It’s not only their work, it’s their passion to educate.
Plan a trip to a nearby historical site or an event with your children. Teach them about the gold rush of 1849 by visiting a California ghost town. Let then witness a battle between the Blue and the Gray by taking them to a Civil War reenactment. Have them cheer on a jousting match at a local Renaissance faire. Children love to be in the center of the action. They love to see people in costume and have the opportunity to shake the hand of an historical figure, such as Abraham Lincoln or a Pocahontas.
After your outing, go to your local library or bookstore and let your child pick out a book on one of the historical characters they encountered. Their outlook on history and the people who influenced the milestones will have greatly changed after having experienced history directly. It will no longer be a bore to them, but instead, it will be exciting.
To find a list of historical sites in your state, visit your local AAA office or Google the Department of Tourism for your state. For a list of living history events and there are various history websites you can search on the web.
DIY Drum project