March 31, 2020

13 Virtual Ways to "Edutain" Kids About History and Preservation

  • By: Emma Peters

During this period of uncertainty, schools around the country have either closed completely or shifted to online learning in an effort to keep everyone safe. Consequently, many parents and guardians have been forced to become caretakers and educators (sometimes in addition to their own full-time careers). In an effort to help parents and guardians bridge this gap, here is a list of virtual learning resources from some of our Historic Sites, partners, and other cool museums.

1 Check out Brucemore’s online activity sheets, and explore the mansion and estate through their online photography tours.

2 If your child is into architecture, find ways to nurture that interest by checking out our article on How to Explore Architecture With Kids. You can also check out this collection of books and activities from Start With a Book, which has a “Builders and Buildings” theme and boasts a wide variety of resources (and offers book recommendations based on age ranges).

3 Browse the Lower East Side Tenement Museum’s wonderful collection of educational resources for remote learning (and scroll down to find links to interactive games!). For an even more comprehensive list of resources, check out the Tenement Museum’s vast collection of lesson plans, which you can filter by type and grade level.

Exterior of the Lower East Side Tenement Museum

4 Introduce your young reader(s) to the power of preservation with one of our ten recommended books for children and teens. Or, for more ways to engage your child with history and preservation, check out our article on Ways to Get Kids Excited About Preservation.

5 Cliveden has created a curriculum based on their annual dramatic event Liberty to Go to See. Learn more about this event and download their lesson packets here (which are designed for middle-school students and cover math, science, and literature). If you have an elementary-age student, Cliveden also has a variety of printer-friendly activity sheets..

6 The Museum of African American History has a variety of educational offerings, including classroom guides on “Black Entrepreneurs of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries” and "Archaeology of the African Meeting House," both of which contain a substantial amount of historical information in an easy-to-read way.

7 Explore the history of Los Angeles and Terminal Island with these learning resources, which include downloadable activities and guides and recommended resources for kids interested in architecture and/or historic Los Angeles.

An Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) building is just beyond President Lincoln's Cottage. Credit: National Trust for Historic Preservation

President Lincoln's Cottage

8 This is a great time to get your child involved with National Parks by engaging them in the Junior Ranger program, which is completely free and includes a variety of online resources. Though this program is geared specifically toward children aged 5–13, children of all ages are encouraged to participate. Parents can also check out this guide for tips on exploring the parks with your kids.

9 The National Park Service also provides kid-friendly resources more generally, with activities online that cover a range of themes, including women's history.

10 For children who love art: check out these lesson plans from the Edward Hopper House Museum & Study Center, or these curriculum guides (which include links to activity pages and recommended content) from the Elisabet Ney Museum. The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum also houses an extensive collection of creative activities that introduce kids to the concepts and principles of art in a simplified and engaging way. For more resources and ideas, explore the rest of our Historic Artists’ Homes & Studios.

Exterior of the Elisabet Ney Museum.

11 If your child loves video games, consider introducing them to one (or all!) of these three games, which explore history through learning about the power of storytelling, the Inupiat people of Alaska, and empathy with those who endured life during World War I.

12 Support your downtown by engaging in the We Are Main Street campaign, which invites children of all ages to celebrate their local community by drawing (for ages 0-11) or writing a short essay (for ages 12-18) about what their downtown means to them. (The latter could be published on Main Street America’s blog and shared across their social media channels!)

13 Check out these resources on Abraham Lincoln from President Lincoln’s Cottage, including organized lesson plans and activities for students in grades 4 – 12.

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Emma Peters is the Associate Manager to the Chief Marketing Officer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. A history graduate, she is constantly humbled by the way past lives and societies can alter the way we consume the present.

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