It’s always been a goal for me to keep FUN in our homeschool.
That’s not to say that there have never been hard days or struggles, but I love experimenting with different ways to make learning fun. Whether it is a good book party or a history field trip, I love adventure.
And when we’re homeschooling, it’s good if we can play to our strengths. Making it fun to learn is definitely one of mine.
And so, I’ve made it a priority to bring the fun to homeschooling history.
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Homeschooling History: Our Experience
The way many of us learned history in school was a bit … dry.
Lots of textbooks. Maybe a few maps. Lots of dates that we forgot right after the test, right?
So it was important to me to do it differently in my homeschool. Not only did I want to make homeschool history fun, but I wanted to find ways to bring it to life and make it memorable.
Homeschool History: 30 Ideas to Make Learning Fun
Remember when I said that it’s important when we homeschool to play to our strengths?
Mine is helping you bring fun to your homeschool! As a result, below you will find 30 ideas to bring fun to homeschooling history.
But, think of this like a choose your own adventure (remember those books?)
You absolutely don’t have to do ALL of these to create memories and keep history engaging. Pick what works for you!
1. Learn as a Family
First, we always made history a whole-family subject.
Learning about the same time period at the same time meant we could chat casually over dinner or in the car.
Some historical topics may be too much for younger kids, but remember, usually as you continue homeschooling, eras wrap around again and again. You can continue to dive deeper into more challenging topics as your kids age.
There are also some resources listed below that can help your older kids study subjects more in-depth on their own like classes, books and more.
2. Make It a Mystery
If you have mystery lovers in your family, this “Unsolved Mystery from History” book series is so well done.
- The Mary Celeste (did somebody say ghost ship!)
- Roanoke: The Lost Colony
- The Salem Witch Trials
- and The Wolf Girls
The books are by mother-daughter duo Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, who also paired up to write Bad Girls: Sirens, Jezebels, Murderesses, Thieves and Other Female Villains. (Recommended for teens).
3. Draw It
You Are an Artist Chalk Pastels (afflink) offers a fun way to learn history. Their I Drew It Then I Knew It Series helps students learn history through engaging drawing lessons with artist Nana.
Check out these fun drawing lessons for history:
4. Add Friends
One of the best things we did to keep homeschool history fun was to ADD FRIENDS!
You don’t have to be in a formal co-op to do history with pals. You can simply recruit a family or two.
I typically organized a group of 5 or so families who agreed to meet every three weeks. Each family would do all of the reading at home but meet together for arts, crafts, food, games, and fun in the time period (or geographic location) that we were studying.
Typically moms paired up to plan the events at our time together so the load was shared all year long.
5. Make It Musical
Listening to music from the time period you’re studying can help create an immersive experience.
You can search YouTube or try the Library of Congress for all kinds of amazing history resources.
You can find collections such as this one that celebrate America’s history.
Here’s a helpful tool to help you find a musical from the time period you are studying.
7. Use YouTube and Movies
Oh, YouTube – the many ways you help out a homeschool parent!
There are SO MANY great history channels on YouTube, and of course, you can always search for individual videos about whatever you’re studying.
Maybe it’s just an average Tuesday, and one of your kids is going to get a cold drink and asks “How did people keep stuff cold before refrigerators?” Of course, there’s a (fascinating) video for that!
One of our favorite channels has always been Crash Course, but a couple of other fun channels to try are:
- Royalty Now Studios – recreates famous faces from history
- Weird History – this channel can pull your kids in with humor
- Simple History – uses animation to explore how people have lived throughout history
There are so many great history movie options, including War World 2 movies that you can research and enjoy.
6. Take Field Trips
Field trips are just the best. There’s nothing like visiting a nearby living history museum, a historical site or even stopping by the nearest cool monument.
Field trips help make homeschool history fun and they bring learning to life. Best of all, they count as doing school for the day!
Do a little research some rainy afternoon to find the best historic sites near you (try Googling “historic places near me,”) and then hold onto that list.
Later, you can use it as a resource any time you begin planning to study a new time period.
8. American Girls
You might be thinking … that store in the mall isn’t going to help my kids learn history …
They even have Step Into Reading versions for younger students/emerging readers.
Now, I’m not saying you have to pull out the sewing machine.
Or … buy a sewing machine.
But if your kids are inspired, you can easily pull together historic costumes with a trip to the thrift store and a few safety pins.
The key is to let your kids take the lead, and yes, a Christmas tree skirt can double as a fur shawl!
10. Make a Timeline
It’s a pretty classic homeschool history project to make a timeline, but keep in mind, that a timeline doesn’t have to include a ton of work.
As you learn about more events, simply move the sticky notes around.
The idea of a timeline is just to help kids track the order of events and find correlations. It doesn’t have to be complicated.
You can also try this online timeline creator.
11. Try Mixing in an Online Class
If you have teens, you can try adding in one of these online history classes.
12. Go Medieval
Looking at studying Medieval history?
13. Nathan Hale is a Genius
Nathan Hale has figured out how to make history engaging, especially if your kids are OK with a bit of gore.
Our family did a book club based on his book Treaty, Trenches, Mud and Blood.
NOTE: These books are recommended for readers 8 and up by the publisher, but you know your kids best.
14. Embrace Holidays
Holidays mean traditions and history. There are so many ways to celebrate the holidays with hands-on history. This post has plenty of ideas for common and less common holidays.
Milk Chocolate Day? Learn a bit about Milton Hershey!
In fact, there’s a whole Unit Study about him!
Talk Like a Pirate Day? You can bet there’s a book for that.
15. Go For It with Graphic Novels
Sometimes parents ask themselves if kids are really learning from graphic novels.
Of course they are!
Here is how you can use graphic novels in your homeschool and feel like they really count.
(And don’t forget about Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales books!)
16. Time Travel
Time travel books can offer history with a twist, and if you have a child who is a fant of time travel, they can learn so much through reading.
This list of time travel books just for tweens and teens has plenty of options. Try A Traveller in Time and Charlotte Sometimes for you older history buffs.
17. Virtual Field Trips
Wouldn’t it be great if we could travel around the world and visit museums and historic sites?
Luckily, there are now lots of opportunities to visit historical landmarks through virtual field trips.
- View some historic artwork at The Louvre.
- Pursue some of the exhibits at the National Museum of American History
- Or take a 360 degree tour of Mount Rushmore
18. Cook Like a Pioneer (or other time periods)
If your family loves making meals and snacks from the time period you are studying, there are many options for cookbooks.
Try books like:
19. Add Audio
Whether your voice gets tired at the end of the school day, or you want to be able to keep everyone learning while running to the orthodontist, an audio book is a great solution.
There are so many great historical audiobooks like this one, about the fight for women’s voting rights.
20. Binge Biographies
Biographies are such a great way to explore history. Reading a person’s story can bring us closer to the time period.
Many of the books on this list of biographies for middle schoolers are a fantastic choice for your homeschool.
22. What Was?!
These books are another great addition to your elementary history studies and a great way to make homeschool history fun!
Include these in your weekly routine or just pull them out on a rainy day.
You can get a whole FREE printable list of history games here.
24. The Map as History
The Map as History is the largest online collection of animated historical maps.
It allows you to explore the Bible in History, Ancient Greece, the Middle Ages, the Cold War and more.
25. Pitch in on Puzzles
If you are a family of puzzle people, it can be fun to work on a puzzle that depicts a landmark or famous historical moment from the time period you’re studying.
A few great examples:
26. Make a Model
Another fun way to get hands-on with history is through 3-D puzzles or models.
In addition to building models that make homeschool history more fun, check out these intricate books by David Macaulay. They are engaging and detailed. Be sure to check out all of his titles!
27. Pick a Podcast
Podcasts are great for when you’re in the car, on a trip, during breakfast or lunch, or just need a break from talking!
Here are a few winners:
(As always, preview and use your judgment to determine which podcasts/episodes are best for your family.)
- Honest History
- Stuff You Missed in History Class
- The History Extra Podcast
- The Past and The Curious
- Bedtime History
- History This Week
28. Add Apps
There’s nothing that says that some screen time can’t be part of learning history.
These are just a few options to look for in your app store:
- BBC History Magazine
- Timeline – World History
- Civilisations AR
- History Adventures – World of Characters
- History in Pictures
- The Presidents – Flash Cards
- Kings and Queens – 1,000 Years of British History
29. Get to the Roots
Learning Latin and Greek roots might not seem like the most obvious to study history, but actually, this is a classic way to learn more.
Word Up is a series that teaches kids Latin and Greek root words and includes plenty of history.
It’s also really funny!
Genealogy can be a great way to study history as a family and make personal connections to the past.
You can begin simply by pulling out old photos and starting a family tree.
More History Resources For Your Homeschool
There are so many ways to make history fun, engaging, and memorable.
Check out these additional helpful history posts:
- A Rover’s Story Discussion Topics and Homeschool Study - December 1, 2023
- Speak Up! Book Review and Homeschool Study Ideas - November 30, 2023
- Spy School Graphic Novel Discussion Questions and Book Review - November 29, 2023