Teaching Illinois History in Primary School

Many primary school teachers actually do not teach their state’s history. Teachers generally like to focus on overall United States federal government history and issues, while the states’ histories come up now and then in such topics like the Civil War or the war for American independence. At any rate, if you are a teacher in Illinois, teaching Illinois history is not as difficult as it sounds, as long as you have the right tools helping you.

The best website to find handouts and other reading information, both factual and fictional, is Illinois’ state history website. This website offers plenty of readings for your students to do. After your students finish the readings, you can ask them the questions found at the very bottom of the handouts page. This way, your students can learn history by talking and reading about it.

Teaching should also be a multifaceted approach, because learning is multifaceted. So, do not expect your students to get excited about learning Illinois history if all that they are doing is reading about it. Instead, have them see history for themselves. Take inexpensive field trips out to the country and just study the prairies and woodlands. You can go to state parks and learn about the native fauna and flora of Illinois while teaching your students about the Native Americans who used to live there. You can also visit farms. Find some local farms and call the owners and ask if you can have a short tour around the farm. Illinois has an important history of farming, both plants and animals such as cows. If you cannot go on field trips, you can bring the field trips to your students. You can go on these trips by yourself, bring a video camera to record and narrate what you are looking at, and then show the video to your class.

When the year is almost finished, each student should have a project to present to the class. Some students may want to do models of farms. Some students may want to do a poster board about the famous people who have come from Illinois. And, perhaps some students may want to create a timeline of Illinois’ history. 

As you can see, teaching history has to include different aspects of learning. Some students learn just fine reading from a book, but many students love learning by doing and experiencing. If you cannot let your students experience the history for themselves, you can bring the history to them.