the global child traveler: hands on history

This post is part 2 of the global child traveler series. As frequent travel adventurers, we like educational games for kids, like “travel homework” before a trip. Since we live in Europe, the travel homework is twofold: learn 12 travel phrases and research a bit of history of where we are going.

You don’t need to go on an around the world trip to use these educational games. There is history all around us! Plan an activity for a weekend stay-cation and have your kids learn something new about their town.

The goal for your kids is to have some knowledge about the destination and what makes the place personally interesting to them. Once you arrive, make time to visit the places related to their historical research. Each child can take a turn as your family’s personal tour guide, sharing what they know.

educational games for kids
“Hey Dum Dum, you give me gum gum!” – Night At the Museum movie

Our daughters are 8 and 14, so there is a noticeable age and learning difference. We tailor this and all educational games for kids according to their age and learning style. I generally suggest a few landmarks or an era to the 14-year-old and let her explore independently, according to her interests. To get the 8-year-old started, we talk about a place, I share some interesting (and simplified) historical stories and let her ask lots of questions.

On a recent trip to Paris, our girls had 2 vastly different travel itineraries. The story of a teenage girl in Paris is here. The story behind Paris for an 8-year-old lover of stories and fairy tales here.

Our children will often ask their school teachers for help in the fact-finding mission, as well. This is wonderfully helpful not only to our girls, but the classroom in general. Their teachers will sometimes discuss the visit with the class and they all work together as a team in special projects about the topic or place. After our trips, our girls are always excited to get back to school and share what they discovered with their teachers and classmates.

[bctt tweet=”Help your kids self-study history. It’ll spark interests in topics they may have never discovered.”]

Because what they learn is guided by their personal interests and experienced through all their senses, the knowledge a child uncovers on their own lasts a lifetime. This activity is especially helpful for kids whose learning style is less memorization based or for kids that are kinetic, hyper-active and sometimes disruptive in a classroom. That would be my 8-year-old!

Holding court at the King and Queen's table, Stirling Castle, Scotland. Should you visit, count how many unicorns you can find; the queen had a thing for them!
Holding court at the King and Queen’s table, Stirling Castle, Scotland. Should you visit, count how many unicorns you can find; the queen had a thing for them!

Before your next trip, google some interesting places at your destination. Typing in the name of the city and “kid friendly” in the search will bring up some great topic ideas. With this information, sit down with your child and help them choose a place or event related to where you are going. If you find they need extra help in developing the details, I have listed some good questions you can write for them or ask. Over time, with more practice, your kids will not need as much guidance before their research.

You are doing a great job in helping your kids develop the vital study and research skills they will need in school and beyond, in a sneaky way! They think it’s all fun and games, you know they are practicing valuable life skills.

Here are 10 questions you can ask for more detail about their topic:

  1. Tell me more about how people live(d) during that time
  2. If you lived back then, what job or trade would you work in?
  3. What person or character would you be?
  4. What did you not like about this time?
  5. Who is your hero?
  6. Who were the bad guys or villains?
  7. Are there any good books or stories about your subject?
  8. What do you want to learn more about or see when we get there?
  9. Are there any special secrets about the place we should look for?
  10. What was happening in other parts of the world during that time?

Let your kids dive into what excites them. Beyond guidance, step back! Perfection is not required for this game and your kids will impress you with their enthusiasm and creativity. Hands-on history is a wonderful activity not only for your “personal little tour guide”, but for all of you as a family.

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