Sadly, history could be one of the most uninteresting topics for students. But with these fun teaching ideas you can win their attention so that they can learn from the successes and the mistakes of the past.
The Tony Award winning hip-hop musical, “Hamilton”, details the life the first treasury secretary of the United States of America, Alexander Hamilton. It was written by world-renowned writer, actor, and rapper, Lin-Manuel Miranda with Alex Lacamoire doing the music. The high-energy music of Lacamoire along with Miranda’s catchy rhymes, and dramatic retelling of the Hamilton’s life inspire students to learn more about the historical figure and the American Revolutionary War. Justin Emrich, a social studies teacher in Ohio, says that the musical has made learning about the war cool and his students are obsessed with memorizing the raps. You can find the songs on YouTube or Spotify to use in your classes.
Fun Facts and Trivia
Topics in history such as signings of declarations and politics of the past are prone to getting dry and boring. Students will have a hard time relating to such events and they will be uninterested. However, you can slip in some fun facts or trivia about the topics to keep them attentive while you teach these. Pick the facts that your students can relate to. If your class is predominantly into sports, then tell them of the sports that were popular during historical times. Cultures in the past would also be interesting like how men dueled during the 1700s and their code of conduct.
People love watching war movies but when you place the events in a textbook it’s not as exciting especially since, first and foremost, it is meant to be informative. You’ll want to bring the action to life with a bit of roleplaying.
If you a have a set of confident and hyperactive students, then invite them to the front of the class. Have these students act out how two opposing sides fought in a historic battle. Encourage them act as melodramatic as possible. The rest of the students will either get into the story or laugh at the hilarious acting. Either way will get their attention and they will have a good visual representation of how the battle unfolded; something to remember for a long time.
Netflix and DVDs
A documentary could seem boring but the ones nowadays are different. Shows such as Drive Thru History and America: Story of Us on Netflix present historical in fun and interesting ways. Such shows have been known to be useful for learning that most of them can also be found in local libraries. If you do not have Netflix, then you can simply borrow a DVD in your school or local library.
Treat it Like News
The biggest turn-off to learning history is that it happened many years ago and many students fail to see the relevance of history to today. In fact, it is not uncommon for children to complain about history class and say that they do not need it. However, there is a way for you to counter this.
Treat history like news and present it in a way like you are a reporter delivering the breaking news as if they just happened. Don’t say, “First, this person did this, and then he did this”. Instead say something like, “They went into the room to negotiate the terms of the treaty. Everyone is waiting in anticipation if they will come out with an agreement… Here they come! They just exited the room and they are shaking hands! We have peace”!
Being a teacher is not just about knowing but being able to connect with your students. Think outside of the box and turn to media, creative techniques, and relatable facts to be able to teach history lessons efficiently.