When it comes to thinking about American history, some of us cringe. We’re reminded of school days when we were compelled to learn about dead people we couldn’t relate to and “important” dates that were anything but that to us. Everyone, however, loves a good story, and when history is taught as a series of stories, it is as fascinating as any work of fiction you will read.
For 20 years, I have researched, written songs, made albums and performed thousands of school concerts about great Americans. When heroes are presented to children as real people with the same complexities, challenges, losses and triumphs as the rest of us, they become real and believable.
Here are five fun ways you and your elementary school child can dive in and become hero know-it-alls.
Read them Fifty American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet!
Read them Fifty American Heroes Every Kid Should Meet ! by Dr. Dennis Denenberg & Lorraine Roscoe. Here you will find a wide array of heroes from many walks of life. The book is easy to digest one hero at a time. Each is given a two-page spread full of interactive suggestions, quotations, and internet follow-up suggestions. My favorite aspect of this book: each hero was what I call a “day-after-day hero” –someone who lived a long heroic life grounded in solid character traits.
Take Your Kids to Visit a Historic Site
Visit a historic site to help your kids connect their senses with their heroes. I once received a letter from a mother who jokingly complained that her kindergartner practically kidnapped the family. After hearing me sing “Washington’s Hat,”the boy latched onto the “man of many firsts” and wouldn’t let go until his parents drove the entire family to Mt. Vernon, Virginia. There, her child was able to see 3D images of his hero, touch the wrought iron gates that protected Washington’s tomb, see the distant Potomac River from Washington’s front porch and hear experts dressed in period costume tell stories of early colonial life on the plantation.
Have a Historical Doll Join the Family
If your child is young enough to enjoy playing with dolls, why get Barbie, Ken, G. I. Joe, or a Ninja Turtle when you can get Benjamin Franklin, Abigail Adams, George Washington Carver and Laura Ingalls Wilder?Visit Creation Station to find a doll who will help you bring history to life. These dolls are fun and educational!
Read Books about Strong Heroes to Your Kids
Read the books of Candace Fleming, Random House Books author, with your children. Candy does an inordinate amount of research and finds fascinating stories you never heard about people you always knew. These are books written for children, but equally enjoyed by grownups. My favorites: Amelia Lost(2011) (find out what probably really happened to Ms. Earhart)… The Lincolns (2008) in which Mary Lincoln receives nearly equal billing … and Our Eleanor (2005) which reveals many heart-opening anecdotes about this painfully shy girl who overcame her fears to become the most respected woman in America.
Create a Heroes Fair for Your Neighborhood or School
Create a Heroes Fair for the children in your neighborhood or school . Each child learns about and becomes a specific hero for a day. Add a Wax Museum component where each hero strikes an
About The Author:
This article was written by Jonathan Sprout, Children’s Artist. Singer-songwriter and recording artist, Jonathan Sprout has dedicated the past 33 years to creating meaningful and captivating music for children.
He has written over 40 songs and has released four American Heroes albums about some of the most remarkable men and women in American history. He has performed more than 5,000 concerts and lead more than 750 songwriting workshops for children. His 10th album, American Heroes #4, was released in early 2014 and has won 10 national awards including the 2014 Academics’ Choice Smart Media Award, the 2014 KIDS FIRST! All-star Award, and the 2014 Creative Child Magazine Preferred Choice Award.
Find him online here: http://www.jonsprout.com/
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