It is almost impossible to conceive that young children would not develop an interest in history if it is introduced in a fun and stimulating way. History is steeped in such glorious tales that are guaranteed to fascinate and give free licence for a child’s imagination to run riot. Introducing real events which saw heads lopped off at the guillotine, new lands discovered, marauding pirates on the high seas and the dastardly deeds of the famous cannot fail to create interest in historical events.
Instead of teaching dull lists of dates to be recited use fun ways to get young children interested in history. A day out at haunted castles or ancient fortresses brings history into the present, and children will be thrilled to imagine boiling oil, bows and arrows, cannons and cutlasses, used to defend these buildings.
Young children love to dress up and it is far more fun if they know the personae of the character they dress up as. Dramatically introduce characters from the past and encourage children to speak in old dialects and use strange accents to recreate their favourite figures. Long dead kings and queens, pirates, explorers, despots and rebels, can all be brought to life. It could be such fun that plays are staged as children immerse themselves in the roles.
A trip to a waxworks museum is another great fun way to introduce historical figures to children. They will always remember the lifelike figures they are introduced to at a young age, especially if they are told of the figures historical impact. Try and ignore the age limit and sneak the children into the chamber of horrors as ghoulish deeds are always fascinating. Children benefit from knowing about the gruesome aspects of history rather than a white washed version.
Children love to re-enact old battles whilst dressed in historical garb. Stir their imagination with tales of the civil war, Hannibal, Alexander the Great and the Spanish Armada. They can have fun pretending to be pioneers crossing the vast span of America to the West, or re-enacting Nat Turners rebellious uprising.
Nothing brings history to life as much as a good book. Reading the ‘Little House on the Prairie’ series of books to young children will fascinate them as they learn that Pa used to bring home dinner from the plains rather than from the supermarket. As they learn about life before the advent of electricity and modern devices their imaginations will soar. Expand the lesson into the kitchen by encouraging children to join in recreating the pioneer dishes found in the ‘Little House’ cookery book.
Other great reads for children must include the ‘Horrible Histories’ series of books which are written to appeal to children’s imaginations. They incorporate facts with jokes, illustrations and odd things which aren’t generally known, and cover a vast range of history.
Once children are introduced to history in a fun and stimulating way they will never lose their fascination for this wonderful subject. History should never be lost and introducing it to children early gives them a marvellous gift for life.