Teaching Kids About History Through Stories

Storytelling is one of our most powerful teaching tools. Think about a story that touched you on a deep level — it was likely because you formed a personal connection with the characters. We all have greater empathy and understand stories better if we are able to connect with them on a personal level. This is why storytelling is the perfect way to teach kids about history. By making a historical event the center of a narrative, whether it be in a book, a film, or a stage production, we can engage children directly with history.

Learning our history (and the history of other peoples) is crucial to being an empathetic, contributing citizen. We’ve all heard the saying that if we don’t know history, we’re doomed to repeat it. But history is so much more than that –it’s an opportunity to understand our place in the world — what came before us, how we got here, and the amazing contributions and challenges of our ancestors. Sometimes this information can be overwhelming, or even boring. Storytelling provides a way for children to engage with history on a deeper level and find an important sense of self in the world. But why history?

Why Children Connect to History

As the Department of Education explains, “Children also want to have a place in history—their first historical questions are: “Where did I come from?” and “Was I always here?” These two questions contain the two main meanings of history: It’s the story of people and events, and it’s the record of times past. And because it’s to us that they address these questions, we are in the best position to help prepare our children to achieve the lifelong task of finding their place in history by helping them learn what shaped the world into which they were born.

Without information about their history, children don’t “get” a lot of what they hear and see around them. History is crucial for kids because it helps them understand their place in the world by giving them a context for their lives. One thing kids do understand and respond to is storytelling — by taking historical facts and placing them into a story, kids can learn about the past in a way that makes sense to them. Many museums and historical institutes are already using these techiques to reach younger audiences.

History and Museum Programs

One example of the effectiveness of teaching kids history through stories is the OurStory program, an outreach initiative developed by the National Museum of American History. The program called on children’s authors and illustrators to bring history to life, creating stories that connected to specific exhibits and events at the museum — thus, it encouraged students and children to engage with history directly in the museum after drawing them in with storytelling.

This literacy-based learning program has highlighted a variety of cultural traditions and histories, including Puerto Rican santos, Iroquois pottery and folk tales, Flag Day, Chinese American traditions, African American migrant workers, Teddy Roosevelt and the first teddy bear, and life on the home front during WWII. The OurStory program encourages kids to get hands-on with history via historical storytelling and children’s literature. Thus, children could learn more about the various cultures that make our nation’s heritage so rich — by engaging with historical storytelling, they can get a better sense of the American story. Storytelling and history don’t only mix in educational and museum settings though — pop culture and more entertainment based forms of storytelling can have an even wider reach.

History and Pop Culture

For high school and college students, the musical “Hamilton” engaged them with American history and our nation’s founding fathers via a storytelling method that made the tale immediate and compelling for them. It spoke to them using diverse storytellers and cultural modes that echo their interests, thus engaging with them on a different level.

Statue of Alexander Hamilton

While they might consider the American Revolution boring when reading about it in a history textbook, “Hamilton” and its story make it come alive. The words on a page may seem dull, but when you make history into a vibrant story using a multitude of musical traditions including hip hop, rap, and musical theatre, the facts become compelling and gripping. Since the musical premiered, relevant historical sites have seen up to a 75% increase in tourists and visitors. How’s that for living history?

But “Hamilton” tickets are impossible to secure (and prohibitively expensive). So, how can you echo its successful techniques in your own home? Children’s history books are affordable and can be revisited in the comfort of your home again and again. If you can find a way to make your child part of that story, even better.

History and Storytelling

Luckily, KD Novelties doesn’t only offer children’s history books, but also personalized books that place your child in the heart of the historical action. By placing kids in the story, like KD Novelties does with their upcoming “My Adventures with the Presidents of the United States,” we can make them a part of crucial historical moments and help them understand their place in our cultural history and national story. Books are the perfect way to give kids first-hand access to a historical tale by putting the story in engaging terms they will understand and including illustrations.

If you want your kid to become a lifelong learner and appreciate the value of history, there’s no better way to do it than to give them lots of history-focused books and stories. Much of our lives are spent trying to better understand ourselves and our place in the world — understanding our role in the scheme of history is a crucial part of this. If you engage your children with history through storytelling from a young age, you’ll be preparing them to be better equipped, more thoughtfully engaged human beings.

Free Apps and Websites to Teach Kids While Having Fun

With the increased popularity in mobile devices, almost everyone is constantly on their phone or tablet. Whether you are checking Facebook, your email, watching a show or playing a game, almost everything can be done from the comfort of a mobile device of some sort. As this becomes more and more of a popular practice, kids are getting hooked too. While it is important to make sure that kids do not spend too much time in front of screens, there are ways to make their screen time valuable to their education. With the accessibility of mobile technologies and development software, many companies have created fun and interactive apps that can actually help teach kids about a variety of different things while also having fun.

There are thousands of apps out there, and it can be difficult to keep track of them all. When downloading an app, a lot is taken into consideration, but price probably factors in more than most other attributes, especially for parents. Luckily, there are plenty of different free apps out there that can be fun as well as educational for kids to interact with. Kids can learn a great deal, about math, reading, chemistry, geography, engineering, languages or even coding and outer space.

Here are some apps that may be worth looking into – and it may not hurt to try, especially since they are free!

Math Playground can help teach math to kids from a first to sixth grade level. It offers activities that involve logic puzzles, math games, and arcade-style number games, as well as interactive tools for teaching fractions, functions, percents, and more.

Kodable is an app available on more recent Apple iOS devices that teaches elementary-aged kids how to code. This growing field is becoming more and more in-demand, and your child can learn basic concepts of modern computer programming from quite an early age and get a head start.

Kid Science: Chemistry Experiments, a kids app that features videos of simple chemistry experiments as well as full text descriptions that explain what is happening in the video and why. Once each video is complete, kids can take a short quiz to test just how much they’ve learned.

Duolingo is a great app for kids and adults alike who are interested in learning a second language. Duolingo features a variety of short game-like exercises that teach vocabulary, sentence structure and grammar. Duolingo has over 20 languages you can choose to learn from including Spanish, French, Chinese, and Arabic among others.

The NASA Kids’ Club website is a fun and interactive place where kids can learn about space through games and simulations.

There are so many free apps out there that can be both fun and educational. Even companies like Khan Academy have become popular with kids, teens and adults alike, and many of these apps can be used to help supplement school-work or your own personal sense of curiosity.

For more free resources and parenting tips please visit our website at KDNovelties.com or the KD Novelties Blog.

How to Find Fun Educational Apps for Kids

Educational Apps for Kids

Kids love playing games, and with more and more kids fascinated by their parent’s phones and other mobile devices, many children are spending more time playing video games and looking for apps that are appropriate for them and their interests. Some of the most popular games in the app store are big hits with kids, like Angry Birds, and while this game does teach kids some basics of physics, it’s mostly just a fun game. If your child is mesmerized by mobile devices, there are ways to harness that interest and use it to help bolster their early education.

There are plenty of educational games, activities and other apps that can benefit kids and their learning skills. With games that focus on math, spelling, language arts, science, social studies, languages, early learning, storybooks, games and more, kids can still have a blast while learning key skills that will help them perform better in the classroom.

When it comes to choosing the right educational apps for your child, there are so many for you to choose from. There are apps like Fishing with Grandpa available in the iTunes App Store that are great for developing early learning skills or Wonster Words, also available on iTunes for various devices, that helps acquaint kids with phonics. Traffic is a programming and coding game for children, a field that is exponentially growing and is becoming an arguably necessary and employable skill for people in many different fields. There are also interactive stories, like Pinky the Pink Penguin that aims to teach kids about diversity and accepting others because being different can be good. We also offer a wide variety of different personalized interactive e-books that can be downloaded and accessed on mobile devices for kids to peruse and learn key reading comprehension skills.

Personalized eBooks for Kids

There are other creative unique apps out there as well. ADHD Skill Boosters Tween is great for kids struggling with this particular disorder and helps them bolster their learning skills in a way that suits them and their needs. When it comes to finding the right apps for your kids, one of the best places to look is in recommendations lists or app pages that link to similar apps. Look at what games your child is known to like and see if there are any similar apps out there that might offer some educational benefits as well. Even searching for the apps listed here will bring you to even more “recommended” and “similar” apps that you can peruse. Before downloading an app, especially ones that cost money, make sure that you read the comments and that it is not too easy for your kids to accidentally buy features and other aspects of the app that they may advertise.

It also helps to remember that educational apps are still games. Spending time on a digital device is not inherently bad, and making sure that your child is acquainted with the various digital platforms out there can help prepare them for the world – but it is just as important that kids have variety in their daily activities. It is still important and beneficial to encourage reading from physical books, playing board games, being active in or out doors and participating in a wide range of different kinds of activities, is good for children and their overall development.