When I was taken paralegal courses after high school, I had an assignment to read Wills and Deeds from the 1800s at the local courthouse.
Loosing track of time was easy as I was absorbed in reading not only legal language but reading the household property that was bequeathed to family members. It was like stepping back in time as I read about the lives of past Americans.
Engaging US History
It was fascinating and stirred a love of not only the history of law but of American history.
Remembering that time in my life, I was determined to supplement U.S. history for high school in a creative way.
I’ve rounded up 7 unique ways to supplement U.S. history for high school because engaging ways to learn history for high school can easily be overlooked.
One/ Read old documents.
Planning a trip to the courthouse to have your teen read old documents which are public record is a fun field trip for a teen.
Also, we used primary resources from Jackdaws when we read about Lewis and Clark.
Scanning, studying, and analyzing old documents are a wonderful way to allow a teen not only a chance to step back in time, but to develop critical thinking skills.
Two/ Historical reenactment.
Many areas in the states put on historical reenactments whether it’s the American Civil War or visiting the Plimoth Plantation.
Remembering the past by visiting and participating in historical reenactments is another way of bringing meaning to past events.
Instead of focusing on the terrible woes of war, we tried to focus on people that lived during that time and how they were were affected by the decisions made.
Three/ Watching documentaries or movies.
Using documentaries as a unit study opener is a great way to engage your high school kid.
I’m always looking at ways to connect what we’re learning about to a movie so that it’s more memorable.
Look at this quick list that hopefully will stir you or your teen’s creative juices:
- Gone With the Wind
- The Searchers
- Drums Along the Mohawk
- The Alamo
- Davy Crockett
- Wyatt Earp
- Far and Away
- History of Henry Ford
Four/ Visit historical homes or towns.
Visiting a section of town like the French Quarter in New Orleans which is full of history widens your teens’ love of how other cultures influenced America, immigration issues, and architect.
Also, tour famous historical homes like the White House or Monticello.
Some homes are more famous than others, but many towns have a historical home or two preserved.
What better way to learn about Amelia Earhart than to visit her birthplace in Kansas?
Five/ Use American artifacts.
Whether it’s blue jeans or Fiestaware, this is a great site with a free teaching guide and writing activities using artifacts from American culture to teach history.
Six/ Field trips. And not to the Zoo.
Let’s just face it. Field trips at the high school level may seem harder to find. They are, but there are also many opportunities to extend a teen’s learning past a textbook on a field trip.
It may take a bit more creative wit, but the opportunities are there. Unless your teen is planning to be a zookeeper (which is great too) he probably has been to the zoo many times.
Look at these ideas for field trips for a teen that bring history alive:
- Plan to attend a trial in the local courthouse or a court docket call. Check with the bailiff because he is the person that deals with the public. He may recommend an upcoming trial that would be permissible for your teen to sit in. We did this one time and my boys never forgot it.
- I planned a trip to the federal money reserve for our teens to learn about the federal government and how money is made.
- Our local ferry was a great way to learn about the history of the port and about early life on the coast.
- Living near a major college, we watched showtimes for plays about history and got invited one time by local students.
SEVEN/ Supplement American history through reading about the life of an American.
Instead of thinking about the events in American history as isolated from the rest of the world, these books tie in other world events happening simultaneously as key American history events.
Studying U.S. history can be challenging when trying to make it engaging for a teen. Add one or two of these ideas and your teen won’t easily forget some of the key events of U.S. history.
You may also like:
- How to Teach History in 14 Lessons (From Daunting to Doable)
- 14 Fun and (maybe Frugal) Homeschool High School Electives
- What You Must Know to Teach High School Unit Studies
- 22 Awesome Homeschool History Field Trips.
Hugs and love ya,