Do you have a distracted child who can’t seem to pay attention during your history lessons? Break up your routine with storytelling and hands-on activities. Try reading the story and have them tell it back to you. Or, describe the lesson with a drawing or complete a coloring page. Re-enacting history stories with puppets or paper dolls may also help your child to focus. Simple hands-on activities can help your kids remember their lesson.
Retell the Story
Read part of the lesson, then ask your child to tell it back to you in their own words. This encourages them to listen actively and may help them avoid daydreaming. Choose the length of your story based on your child’s narration abilities. Narration is a technique reintroduced by Charlotte Mason in the last century and is a powerful tool that you can use throughout your child’s education to build their storytelling and writing skills.
Resource for narration: Narration Ideas from Simply Charlotte Mason, Know and Tell: The Art of Narration by Karen Glass; A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola.
Sketch the Story
Provide each child with paper, colored pencils or crayons. After you read a small section of the lesson, ask your child to draw a picture of what they just heard. Your child will build the ability to recall important ideas and use their creativity to express their ideas on paper. Read the next section of the lesson and repeat with the drawing activity. Continue until you have finished the lesson. Depending on the age of your children, you may read the whole lesson and have them summarize it with one drawing. Let your child tell the story of their drawing after they complete it.
Color a Picture
Color an illustration of a historical person, place, or event while you are reading. After they have completed coloring, ask your child to tell you what they have learned from your reading.
Resources for Coloring Books: Dover History Coloring Books, Figures in Motion History Coloring eBooks
Re-enact Your Story with Costume, Puppets, or Paper Dolls
Let your child bring history to life by acting out the story of an actual person. Dress up in costume or use a historical paper doll or puppet. They can either make one from their own illustration or use a book of historical paper dolls or articulated paper puppets. This will engage your child as they have fun making the paper puppet and using it to tell the story of his or her life. Place magnetic tape or velcro on the back of the figure and use it on a white board, refrigerator, or felt board.
Resources: Famous Figures series of historical articulated puppets, Dover paper dolls
Storytelling, drawing, coloring, and making puppets or paper dolls of famous people can be fun, and can also draw your kids in and build retention. Try using one of these techniques with your next lesson.