History books are a great way to teach kids about historical events, but if you want to inject a bit more fun then playing interactive games for kids is the best way to really engage them.
Lacking imagination? Don’t know where to start? Let us help you!
The best place to get started with setting up fun history games for kids is to consult educational websites. We say educational sites, because the whole purpose of this activity is to teach them something lasting, as opposed to offering them information that isn’t in any way an accurate representation of ancient history. Playing games that help kids learn can be both great for bonding and good for their development.
Studying History is important for all of us, no matter our age and interests, because it allows us to understand our past, and thus our present and how the world came to be what it is today. History offers us answers to so many questions, and rather than ‘letting history repeat itself’, it can also offer us solutions to move on from mistakes made in the past by studying the successes and failures we have experienced as a race.
Studying History also provides us with insight into our cultures and religions so that we may all increase our cross-cultural awareness and understanding, something that is very important for children growing up in the modern world.
AQA, one of the top exam boards offering a History curriculum and assessment at various levels of education, believes in “the importance of not just learning history, but learning from history. Understanding past events and people and their significance gives students a better insight into the world around them.”
As a result, the educators working on this system have worked hard with teachers to develop a range of highly relevant topics to give students a wide scope of information about the past and present.
The subject content for GCSE History states that the scope of study should include history:
from three eras:
-Early Modern (1450–1750)
-Modern (1700–present day)
With these three vast periods in mind, there are various important historical and cultural topics that can be covered, with the curriculum offering some flexibility
Key subjects that schools tend to cover at this Key Stage 4 are:
Ancient Egypt is one of the key topics kids should learn about. Photo credit: D-Stanley on VisualHunt.com / CC BY
Get involved in your child’s learning by helping them to get enthusiastic about learning about History. Photo credit: jurvetson on Foter.com / CC BY
Now that we are familiar with the primary History content for young learners, how can we prepare our youth for this around the home? Indeed, a lot of things that pupils learn in the classroom will be completely new to them, but there are ways that we, as adults and parents, can teach our children a bit about history and their past before they start their primary and secondary school courses.
As with most subjects, teaching young kids needs to be approached with patience, care and attention, but most of all… FUN!
See below how you can make learning about History enjoyable with games and other interactive activities.
Add a new dimension to playing dress up at home by getting hold of some alternative costumes. Ditching the princess or superhero outfits and opting for some more meaningful costumes can help you to set up a role play that is not only fun and interesting to your child, but also teaches them something they didn’t know before.
Don’t worry, the outfits don’t have to be boring and, even so, you can increase the fun factor by spending time crafting and making your outfits first if you wish to! Here are just some examples of costumes you might like to consider, available from most fancy dress shops or online marketplaces like Amazon, which offer the opportunity for you to discuss important historical periods with your little one.
Even if you only dress your child up for a costume party, just giving them some brief background information regarding the theme of their attire means that they can show off to all their friends that they know something fascinating. It’ll make them stand out from the crowd too!
The Historical Association claims that “Drama works best if it is set in a specific historical context. ”
They suggest thinking about the following three factors before you set up a role-play activity with your child or tutor group.
-the identity/roles of the people involved in the situation;
-the time and place of the events;
-a focus or issue that concerned the people involved.
Moreover, you should, first of all, have an idea in your head of what you’d like the child/children to learn through this game. For parents casually teaching their kids about history, then the outcome may not be as important yet for private tutors or a History teacher, they will need to have a solid theory for their learning outcome.
An interesting historical resource such as a story, piece of text, picture or artefact can provide a good starting point for a drama activity at home or in class.
The Historical Association offers a real-life, already tested case study by a History teacher, John Fines, and he explains how he made the game a success with his pupils:
“[…] I decided to use the story of Akhenaten […] reduced to basics, [which is about] a pharaoh who looked strange – he had a very elongated head – decided to abandon all the gods of Egypt except one. That god was Aten, the rays of the Sun. As part of the new worship of Aten, the Pharaoh wanted to move his capital city and build a new one dedicated to Aten. No more detail than this is needed for the drama.”
Fines goes on to explain how he set up the situation:
“First I set up a situation in which I, in role as the new Pharaoh, lived behind a curtain and would not be seen. As some children struggled to see me, others were sent off to close the temples to the other gods and to research a new site for a capital city. The children, to my surprise, decided on absolute obedience to Akhenaten’s radical orders. They coped well with the responsibility, so finally I rewarded them by drawing my curtain and revealing my intentions. Then I told them how Egypt had revenged itself on Akhenaten after his death, removing his name wherever they could and hiding his tomb. […] I could see at once that several children had a notion to find that tomb, so to end the lesson we arranged the tomb’s contents, became archaeologists and broke through into it.”
It sounds like the adults involved in such an elaborate but fascinating game can have as much fun as the kids during the situation itself as well as during the preparation of the material!
Kids Past is a scholarly website that includes history games that make learning and retaining history facts really fun, with combining the history concepts you have previously learned on the website with attention-grabbing games which reinforce the subjects covered.
Just some of the games that can be found on this useful online tool are:
-Hopping through history game
-History galactica game
-Brick busters history challenge
-Kiana orca preserve history game
Ducksters, similarly, is an education site that provides a range of question sets containing 10 questions on a given history subject. All the questions refer directly to information from the linked page, which you will ideally just have learned about. The idea is that you or your child should read the page and then test your knowledge and reading comprehension by taking the relevant quiz.
The quizzes can be taken online or printed out.
You can find some great History games and apps for kids which are more beneficial than watching TV. Photo credit: flickingerbrad on Visualhunt / CC BY
BBC Bitesize: History For Kids
This now archived page on the BBC pages is dedicated to children learning about History and enables them to enter ancient worlds, meet famous people from History and hunt for interesting facts by exploring the various sections, games, and activities offered by the professionals behind the fun and animated site.
Upon falling on the History For Kids page, kids can discover a gallant knight who throws up a range of options of paths for them to choose, which are as follows:
As you can see from this selection of areas covered, the website offers a broad overview of both British and World History as well as details on ancient civilisations, all adapted for fun learning. Not only are the different topics covered in easy-to-understand language, they offer up numerous opportunities for interactive learning with a range of online or printable games like educational games, puzzles and activities to make use of, encouraging learning whilst having fun.
This makes learning fun for all, whether you are playing silly learning games with your toddler, doing a Year 5 History assignment with your child, or you are a fifteen-year-old trying to make sense of a specific period in History that you find challenging!
See facts about the Roman Empire here.
Discover more about Egypt here.