5 Secrets to Make History Come Alive for Kids

Rote facts. Boring dates. And lots of battle names to memorize.

Was this how you learned history as a child?

Sure, history can be dry and lifeless… unless we learn how to truly engage with the historical period and make it come alive.

 WOW! Great ideas here on how to teach history so that it’s not just a bunch of boring facts! Even if you’re not a homeschool mom, the resources and ideas mentioned here are applicable for all families wanting to engage kids in the fascinating people of history!

History needs to be pondered, savored and experienced. It needs to be multi-sensory and taught with a few lingering questions behind all those facts, such as, “Why did people react this way?” and more importantly, “What would I have done?

Teaching history well is an art, and yet it can be so simple (especially with the right teaching tools)!

Want history to come alive for you and your kids?

Here are five secrets (and one of my favorite ways to share history’s great stories with kids)!

5 Ways to Make History Come Alive for Kids

1) Make history engaging.

Bottom line? History is about stories–stories of real people, real fears and really challenging situations.

When we can break history down into powerful testimonies of not only incredible life lessons but stories of people who triumphed through difficult situations, suddenly all those “boring facts to memorize” have a relevant framework for kids!

I love how Heirloom Audio Productions utilizes audio drama to convey the stories of real people from unique historical time periods–such as Robert E. Lee from the American Civil War–to capture the intrigue, controversy and excitement of these historical events.

When kids discover that battles, landmarks and dates are simply elements of a bigger story about people, history becomes alive, engaging and powerful!

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2) Make history interactive.

Since historical events happened in living color to actual people, it’s imperative that we give kids a chance to interact with what they’re learning.

We must encourage them to ask questions, especially those like,”Why did this happen?” and “How has this historical event brought our society to where it is today?” This makes history relevant and applicable for kids.Lee-in-virginia-study-guide

And these amazing historical audio dramas (based on books by famed history storyteller G.A. Henty) make it easy and natural for kids to interact with the historical event and want to learn more.

Because Heirloom Audio Productions uses people to share historical events, these audio dramas encourage kids to take questions one step further.

When kids realize that history is about people, it suddenly forces them to ask things like, “What would I have done? Which side would I have been on? Why do I think that historical person’s decision was a bad one or good one?
Plus, each Heirloom Audio Productions audio drama includes access to additional teaching materials that you can use–discussion starters, Bible studies, points to ponder–to encourage further learning.

These study guides are packed with wonderful ways to talk to your kids about the lessons learned in the audio dramas.

I’ve also developed a list of supplemental history learning resources that will allow you to dig even deeper into the wonderful world of these audio dramas.

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In fact, you could very easily create your own homeschool curriculum by simply listening to the audio drama, engaging with the additional teaching materials and using the supplemental resources sheet!

This sheet is created exclusively for Your Vibrant Family readers! DOWNLOAD IT HERE!

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3) Make history immersive.

History is meant to be experienced by all the five senses!

Unless we can immerse kids in the sights, sounds and emotions present during pivotal moments of history, they can’t fully understand the tragedy and triumph and why these events are still affecting society today.

That’s why audio drama is an ideal genre for engaging kids in historical events.

More than just someone simply reading a book, Heirloom Audio Productions are masterful, movie-theater-like retellings of these amazing events. Kids hear the sounds of swords clashing during William Wallace’s battles (In Freedom’s Cause), and feel the terror of a shark attack (Under Drake’s Flag), for example.

Listen for yourself! Here’s an audio sample from The Dragon and the Raven:

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Kids can see themselves in the historical event because the incredible sound effects and engaging performances stories are so immersive.

In fact, after we listen to these audio dramas, I often find my kids acting them out with their own mock battles and events!

4) Make history a backbone topic for other learning.

Along with telling stories from real people, one of the best ways to teach history is to experience the culture of an era (literature, art and music for example) in order to gain a full appreciation of prayer-of-william-wallace-300-x-400how the people of that time period reacted emotionally to the event.

Beautiful retellings of poetry–and even songs from the period–are included in these audio dramas.

The set of audio dramas also includes full-color posters with quotes from famous historical figures!  I love how little touches of cultural aspects bring these stories to life and enrich the learning experience!

For example, this poster art (on the right) shows William Wallace’s prayer (Psalm 23, in the Latin Vulgate) that is mentioned in the In Freedom’s Cause audio drama.

Gorgeous, right?! You could easily print this and frame it for your home.

Along with the study and discussion guides that come with each audio drama, get a list of additional teaching resources for these four audio dramas in this download (it’s only for Your Vibrant Family readers! Download it here)!

You can dig even deeper into these rich historical periods with this list!

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5) Make history relatable (especially to God’s truth).

Part of the magic of G.A. Henty’s storytelling is that he uses a few fictionalized “everyday” characters to engage closely with the famous historical figures. This brings the reader–or in the case of audio drama, the listener–into the story itself.

Suddenly the great dilemmas of history come to life! Should Robert E. Lee defend his beloved Virginia in battle, even if it means going to war against his own countrymen (With Lee in Virginia)? Should young King Alfred of Wessex risk his life and reputation to stand against the tyranny of the seemingly unbeatable Viking invaders (The Dragon and the Raven)?

Best of all, I really appreciate how these audio dramas emphasize how these historical figures used God’s word to wrestle through their decisions. We hear characters reference scriptures, pray fervently and grow in godly character as they experience each historical event.

When we can demonstrate to our kids that the people of history are just people like we are, we can see how timeless–and powerful!–God’s truth really is.

An Excellent History Teaching Tool for Families

As you can see, Heirloom Audio Productions’ audio dramas are a powerful way to teach history using these five secrets!

If you’re a homeschool family, you could use these resources to reinforce what you’re already learning in an another history curriculum.

Or these audio dramas could become their own customized unit study (especially if you download the free list of additional teaching resources! Grab it here!).

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I love how I can teach history on the go (often without kids even realizing that they’re learning!) using the power of compelling storytelling and engaging multimedia (two things kids already love).

Our family has listened to these dramas over and over–both on long trips and while running errands in town–and they’ve become beloved treasures in our home.

With this special package, you’ll get:

  • All four audio dramas (The Dragon and the Raven, With Lee in Virginia, In Freedom’s Cause, Under Drake’s Flag) (there are 2 copies of each audio drama so that you can give one to a friend!)
  • Study Guide and Discussion Starter Sets for each audio drama
  • Award-winning soundtracks from each audio drama
  • Poster Art from each audio drama
  • Four limited edition Henty Collector Coins

Even if you’re not homeschooling, I would highly recommend these audio dramas as wonderful ways to share these incredible stories (and life lessons!) in the car with your kids!

Go here to learn more about Heirloom Audio Productions and this special four-audio drama package with bonuses.

FTC Disclosure: I received products from Heirloom Audio Productions and was compensated for my time. However, all opinions stated here are 100 percent mine, and I was not required to post a positive review. 

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 WOW! Great ideas here on how to teach history so that it’s not just a bunch of boring facts! Even if you’re not a homeschool mom, the resources and ideas mentioned here are applicable for all families wanting to engage kids in the fascinating people of history!

About Alicia Michelle

As a wife and mom to four passionate kids, Alicia Michelle loves encouraging other moms with practical tips for joy-filled living in everyday life, especially in parenting, marriage, faith and health.Alicia is the owner/editor of Your Vibrant Family; the author of Plan to Be Flexible, The Back to School Survival Manual; and the creator/producer of the "7 Days to a Less Angry Mom Online Video Course,", Christ-Centered Christmas Resources and My Memory Box Organizing System. In addition, she is a monthly contributor for several popular family blogs, including Crosswalk.com.Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

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