Bringing History Alive for Kids

We love to share history with kids. Most people do, and that is why our National Parks are often filled to the brim on weekends and holidays! We’d love to hear your ideas for incorporating American History into your life. Here are a few of our tips!

When you are reading books or talking about specific time periods, act them out! It’s fun to turn off all your electrical appliances for an hour or a day when reading about Colonial Times. It’s also fun to plant a Victory Garden or set up a protest (later bedtimes!)

Have a time period party! We had a time-period party when reading about the Roaring Twenties and had a great time figuring out what to wear, finding appropriate music, and learning new dances!

A friend read about the rise of factories in the U.S. and turned her house into a factory complete with child labor! While the brutal aspect of this time period wasn’t shared, she had a lot of help getting the laundry put away (assembly line) and lunch made (peanut-butter sandwich factory). She also had the kids make a model car out of blocks and then the100_2963y had to split the work and make ten new cars in five minutes (hilarious fail but the point was made!)

What kid doesn’t love to cook? Read about what people ate in different time periods and try to re-create those dishes. Talk about why these foods were popular, how they were prepared, and why people ate them. Talk about climate, refrigeration, and availability.

Music tells stories and teaches us about history. My family has spent hours on YouTube watching musicians and bands from different time periods. It is fun to talk about dress, hair, and musical styles. Try to put in tidbits about national and international events happening during the same time period.

How do you incorporate historical learning in your home? Share your tips and tricks in the comments section!


American History Through Music

Like most human beings, my kids love to listen to music. I enjoy watching them zone out and sing, sway, and feel music with every ounce of their being. They love to learn songs, to sing, and to dance. They see music as a treat, a joy, and an integral part of life. Many teachers use this love of music to inspire kids, and history teachers are no exception. If you are talking about American History at home, do it with a few songs that kids are sure to love. These are a few of our suggestions although you can find many more fine options with a quick Internet search. Search for these songs on YouTube. Please preview the songs before sharing them with your children. Some, especially the songs about war, are only appropriate for older kids.

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General Learning

The 50 States and Capitals Song, Tim Pacific

The 43 Presidents Song, Tim Pacific

America the Beautiful

Proud to be an American

The Star Spangled Banner

The Declaration of Independence, Learning by Song

In the Constitution, Learning by Song

Government, Jim Thompson

Exploration and Discovery

Age of Exploration, Learning by Song

Christopher Columbus, Kathleen Wiley


The First Thanksgiving, Learning by Song

When I First Came to This Land

Native Americans

Sacajawea, Kathleen Wiley

Squanto, Kathleen Wiley


Free at Last, Linda Brown and Dr. Thomas Moore

Freedom Riders Got to Ride, Vitamin L

Civil War

When Johnny Comes Marching Home

The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, The Band

Westward Expansion

Echo Canyon (Building the Railroads)

World War I

Over There, Billy Murray

When This Lousy War is Over

The Roaring Twenties
Louis Armstrong

Duke Ellington

Ella Fitzgerald

Civil Rights

Rise Up, Martin Luther King Day, Jack Hartmann

Rosa Parks, Andy Glockenspiel

World War II

Sing, Sing, Sing, Benny Goodman

The White Cliffs of Dover

Cold War

Masters of War, Bob Dylan

Nothing to Fear (But Fear Itself), Oingo Boingo