We clambered into the covered wagon, laughing. We wondered how ladies climbed in and out of wagons in the 1800s, in heavy skirts, with such grace. We jolted forward as the horse obeyed the giddy-up call from his driver. We experienced a small taste of life as a pioneer while journeying across fields filled with the long native grasses of the prairie.
My family and I spent the rest of the day trying our hands at carrying water, washing clothes, churning butter, taking care of livestock, and picking our way down muddy roads marked with wagon ruts. It was a remarkable, never-to-be-forgotten day, but to be honest, it was also very uncomfortable.
Fun Teaching Ideas for State History
You can read all the books, watch all the documentaries, write all of the reports but nothing trumps experience. Who will ever struggle to remember prairie life: after you have mucked out stalls, rubbed your aching backside after riding in a wagon, fed chickens, all completed in the blazing sun of the great Midwest?
History becomes real when you stop and get your hands dirty. Here are three history ideas to help you find local events in your town.
1. History Ideas: Festivals
This is one of the best ways to experience the history of your local state for free (or a nominal amount). Local festivals are typically held during the decent weather months of the year, so make sure to research and plan your teaching schedule well in advance. You can find information about local festivals via your local city and state websites, local newspapers, city parenting websites, and even local homeschooling groups.
2. History Ideas: Overnight Experiences
Did you know that you can spend the night in a covered wagon, work on an Amish farm, and stay in a lighthouse? This is just the tip of the iceberg for creative overnight experiences.
Visit websites like Airbnb, plug in your home state, and access their unique stays tab. You could stay in a local castle, a cabin in the woods, or even a houseboat.
These overnight experiences don’t have to break the bank either. As a homeschooler, you can take advantage of finding amazing deals by traveling in the off-season, utilizing coupons via sites like Groupon, and even limiting your stays to overnight. You would be amazed at the unique places you can stay with a little bit of creativity.
3. History Ideas: Local Historical Sites and Programs
I am always surprised at the number of hidden gems found in each state, from replicated towns of the 1800s to jails where famous outlaws were held, to old hotels. Each state has a plethora of field trip opportunities.
It is important to note that most historical sites offer festivals, homeschooling days, and workshops. I would sign up for their newsletter, so you don’t miss out on the fun. You can find these sites by visiting your local visitors’ bureau website, through sites like TripAdvisor, Pinterest, Only In Your State, and your local kids’ activity websites or magazines.
It is truly amazing what lifelong memories you can create with your kids by immersing yourselves in your local state history. Happy planning!