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For years I’ve fought my tendency to just stick a worksheet in front of my sons and call it American history. Knowing that learning by doing is effective, but creating uncomplicated hands-on projects are two different things for me.
I tend to complicate and over-analyze the details of a history activity. Next thing you know, and much to my kids’ disappointment, I’ve completely deleted any kind of fun learning activities from our day. Can you relate?
So when I found out about the chance to use 8 family-friendly hands-on American history activity books from Dover Publications, I was tickled to check them out.
Key Benefits of Uncomplicated Hands-on American History
Having activities that an older and younger sibling can work on together is one sanity-saving tip. When all of my children are engaged in learning together, they are more motivated while we do simple and fuss free hands-on American history activities.
The second tip I’ve learned is that sometimes I need activities that have little to no teacher prep time. This doesn’t mean that I always want activities for my kids that take little time.
I want to maximize learning time while minimizing my time. In addition, when needed, I want my kids to be able to self-teach, self-check or learn independently.
It seems like a lot to ask for, but I’ve had to widen my scope of what is a hands-on activity. Adopting a view that hands-on American history crafts have to always be over the top is extreme. Besides, my kids’ are always delighted when I’m not stressed out when we do simple activities.
Look at these 4 simple shortcuts for learning American history with no fuss, no stress, and literally no preparation.
ONE/ Learn American history through using museum-quality coloring books.
When I started homeschooling, my house was full of useless coloring books. As I attended more field trips, I found educational quality coloring books in museums. Shortly thereafter, when I taught American history I used Dover Publications coloring books because of their educational value of events, people or objects.
Museum quality coloring books are books that make learning about events in American history come alive.
While studying the details of an accurately portrayed person or event, a child is engaged. His imagination is stirred to think about a time period back in history.For example, while coloring the pictures of each president, we researched about time period clothing and objects.
Reading the short captions about the presidents while looking at events on each page from a president’s term easily cements important American history events in my son’s mind.
Museum quality coloring books are a fascinating way to rekindle a child’s love for learning about history. And the best part is that there is no teacher prep.
Too, if you have a kid who prefers to color his way through learning the states rather than drawing them in a notebook or creating a lapbook, he’ll love completing a United States Coloring Book.
A younger kid can grab an atlas and locate each state as he reads information about the state motto, the state tree, and the date each state entered the Union. Facts about the past then become something that is relevant today.
As your child researches about the plants and trees of each state, coloring to match the details of the flora and fauna of each state becomes a valuable teaching tool.
Paying attention to details when coloring and fostering the child’s natural desire for creativity leaves a lasting impression of what is learned.
TWO/ Build a paper model of the White House.
This next project, the whole family got in on because it was just plain fun. Admittedly, my kids have spent way more time on digital devices than I have wanted them to. It’s been a struggle to find projects that are educational much less finding one that focuses on American history.
How to Easily Turn an American History Research Topic into a Hands-on Learning Project
We were delighted to build the paper model of the White House.Looking at pictures of the White House and noticing details he hadn’t paid attention to prior to constructing the paper model of the White House was a relaxed way to learn about the nation’s capital.
Not only did Tiny have to read directions carefully in putting together all the small paper pieces, but it took patience to glue them.
An unexpected benefit of building the paper model was learning the fundamentals of engineering.
THREE/ Use activity books to teach about American history.
For an older child there is no more engaging way to review the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution than to do a fun decoding activity in the U.S.A. Constitution Activity Book.
I wished I had introduced the Preamble in this way to my sons when they were younger instead of having them memorize it or fill out a worksheet.
Fun activities like crossword puzzles, mazes, finding hidden objects in a picture and comparing two pictures to see what is missing are relaxed and informal ways to teach facts about the nation’s capital.
If you have a younger child who needs help in fine motor skills, he’ll love being able to do mazes instead of having to color.
When the boys were real little, we did mazes a lot because I read about the benefits of learning how to problem solve. Looking ahead in a maze and seeing what will work and not work is a fun way to learn problem solving skills.
The beauty of having a variety of activity books is that each child can choose what he loves to do the most. The best part of activity books are that most of the solutions or answers are found in the back of the book. Again, no teacher needed.
FOUR/ Create historical figures – the easy way. Use paper figures.
Unlike the White House paper model, which requires patience and wit to methodically put together, the historical paper models are easily punched out and glued. It’s a great project for a younger kid who wants to be involved while you teach older kids.
One of the reasons teaching American history can be boring is that we wait until high school to teach it and then we do it through a dry textbook.
Raising a budding history lover begins with introducing him to historical figures of the past and present through imaginative play.
In addition, while reading about George Washington, the American Civil War, or any other historical person or significant time period, a younger child will have a way to act out events which your older kids are learning.
Until a child is old enough to understand how American history affects us today, he needs concrete learning tools. Stand Up Presidents gives him a chance to hold and touch history.
You’re already aware of the benefits of using puppets for a young child to discover the joy of a story.
History is just one continuous story. And paper puppets draw in a young child and lets him be part of telling the story of our history.
Too, activity books are great for other reasons:
- they can revive a child’s love of learning,
- they can be used to take a break from formal learning,
- they can be used on sick days,
- they can be used for family bonding time,
- they can help you to teach a subject like American history, which your child may not like,
- they normally require just a few supplies to complete like pens, map coloring pencils, and glue,
- and the best part is that all of your kids, regardless of age can learn together because of the wide range of activities offered in activity books.
Remember hands-on American history activities shouldn’t stress you out, cost a lot, or make a big mess for your child to retain the information. Grab one or two activity books and relax.
You’ll love the activity books from Dover Publications.
How to purchase them!
►Product descriptions: U.S.A. Constitution Activity Book: Mazes, secret codes, crosswords, and other puzzles offer an entertaining way to learn about the Constitution, the foundation of the supreme law of the United States. Alexander Hamilton Coloring Book: Kids can color as they learn about the legendary Alexander Hamilton, whose fascinating life has spawned numerous books, articles, and a Tony Award®-winning Broadway musical. Discovering Washington, D.C. Activity Book: Take a whirlwind tour of Washington, D.C., with this fun-filled book of puzzles! Discover interesting facts about Capitol Hill, the National Mall, the White House, and other famous landmarks of Washington, D.C., including museums, parks, and monuments as well as neighborhoods around the city. American Presidents Coloring Book: From George Washington to Donald J. Trump, this fact-filled coloring book chronicles the history of all 45 US Presidents. Each Chief Executive is depicted in an image drawn from real life, and most portraits feature backgrounds that reflect significant events from the president’s administration. Presidents Facts and Fun Activity Book: More than 30 mazes, search-and-find puzzles, and spot-the-differences activities feature playful illustrations and intriguing tidbits about our nation’s leaders, from their nicknames and birthdays to their hobbies and pets. United States Coloring Book: An exciting coloring book spotlighting each of the 50 states. Information accompanying each ready-to-color illustration identifies the state’s motto, flower, bird, tree, capital, and principal rivers and mountains. Standups! Presidents: 8 Easy-to-Make Models!: Every day is Presidents’ Day with these charming 5-inch-high figures of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and six other Chief Executives. White House Cut & Assemble: Follow these complete, simple instructions and clear diagrams to create an expertly designed, beautifully crafted, authentically detailed model of the White House.
►Suitable for grades: K to Gray.
►Format: Physical products shipped to you.
►Cost: Prices vary, but most books are under $9.99.
You’ll also love these other resources:
- Free American History Lapbook – Learning about The Old West Through the Life of Wyatt Earp,
- Free 27 Week American History Study through Lapbooking In Chronological Order
- Pioneer Living and Cloth Dyeing (Hands-on History)
- Texas Native American History Quick Unit Study (Middle School)
- 10 Early American History Events that Happened in Fall for Homeschool Middle or High School
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