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© Gail Underwood Parker

Monday, January 9, 2012

School Bell: History Help

Kids often complain that history classes and history itself are dull, boring, and too hard. Flashcards, outlines and charts may help them organize, cluster, and memorize information. But, if you own a television, a DVD player and a library membership you have another opportunity to get your kids involved.

Children who have grown up in the television era [not to mention computer age] will find it far easier to focus on a television screen than a textbook.  Your job is to find sources that have accurate information.  These DVDs [or older videos] also help kids who are visual learners and can retain information they have watched better than information they have to read. Some of you may be old enough to remember the days of filmstrips in school.  Even filmstrips were more fun to watch than reading the history book assigned chapter paragraph by paragraph each child around the class!

Look through your child's textbook to see what topics and people will be covered during the year. Then search for programs about those.

Go online and search for National Geographic, Biography, and History Channel specials.  National Geographic has an array of interesting programs on state parks, regions of the country, and other geography based topics.  The History Channel is your source for info on wars, historical eras, etc.  The Biography Channel will help bring historical figures alive with details and more.

Once you have found a program, check out your school library or your town library to see what they have available for sign out.  If there is a specific one you want, ask the librarian if it is available through inter-library loan. Plan a 'Desserts and DVDs' or 'Brownies and Biographies' night at the start of each unit.  Your child will have an introduction to the topic that will be a baseline to hook with the information they cover in class. This will not only build interest, but help them retain what they hear in class. Try it!

PS. These DVD programs also provide great idea starters for history projects. [Ex: The History Channels program on the Navajo Code Talkers really fired up one of my kiddos to get excited about his project!]

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