Five Go-to Practices to Energize Your History Class

by Deana Swanson


Photo by Matvey Smirnov on Unsplash

History is actually a class where we learn about real people and true stories about what they did. It should be fascinating—not boring. Here are a few ways to make history more interesting for your students.

  1. Show actual pictures. Photos of the Native Americans, the Great Depression, suburbia in the 1960s, the Twin Towers, and anything since cameras were used in the mid-to-late 1800s are great. They speak volumes to students and make more relevant what the students are reading in the textbooks. Use drawings when pictures are not available.
  2. Discuss the reasons for what people did and why they did it. Most of what occurred in history was done for greed and power. Talk about what God’s Word says about this, and what the response should have been. Was the Civil War really the only way to end slavery? Discuss how whatever you are studying relates to us today. We are currently studying the American Revolution. We talk about how the colonists had said that they would obey King George and didn’t. Then we talk about who we should be loyal to today. When we get to studying westward expansion, we will discuss what people might do today to start their lives over.
  3. Put the students into the scenario being studied. If you are studying the Great Depression and read that around 20% of the people were unemployed, apply that to your class. If you have ten students, two of them wouldn’t have jobs or any income. Ask what we should do as Christians to help them.
  4. Complete projects in class that directly relate to what is currently being studied. Construct buildings out of popsicle sticks, replicate art forms from different cultures, eat foods from different countries, make string art maps of continents. I have compiled a list of over fifty projects for American and world history, most of which can be completed in the classroom in one class period. Contact me if you’re interested and I will gladly share it with you. (littleflock7[at]gmail[dot]com)
  5. Read and discuss the text together as much as possible. Have students read paragraphs and digest the content together, asking them questions and discussing what happened. It is also helpful to have them write down key concepts, take notes if they are older, or label diagrams or worksheets with as many visuals on them as you can for younger students.
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CONTRIBUTOR: Deana Swanson

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