When my daughter was in Kindergarten I read her three or four biographies. She hated it! In my defense, it was during the first couple of month of my home schooling career. I've since realized not to force such things and when you are ready to give them another try- MAKE IT FUN! And I'm ready to give it another try!
What inspired this second wind attempt to try to instill a love of biographies in my kids was my friend's brilliant idea to host a HISTORY FAIR!
This was the first time I had heard of such an event. I learned that a history fair is when a student studies someone from the past, dresses up like them and gives a short presentation in character. Like a science fair, but for history!
We had a fabulous experience with our homeschool group history fair and in the process, I found dozens of other fun ways to make history really come alive. Here are a few of my favorites.
Hands-On History Ideas:
1. Give the History Fair a church spin- Make it an "Ancestor Fair" or stick to people in church history. You can't go wrong with this incredible project.
2. This picture is of Helen Keller with Heber J. Grant reading the Book of Mormon in braille! This made me want to do my own project and be in the History Fair. (Only I tear up every time I talk about Helen Keller, so I opted out this time). To learn more about this picture click here.
3. If your kiddo has a special talent, it may be encouraging for them to read about someone else who has the same talent. For example, if you have a little baker on your hands (lucky you) you may have him or her research Julia Childs or Emeril Egasse.
4. To help your kids understand what a biography is, here is a link to a group of biography anchor charts you may be interested in mimicking.
5. Find a biography book on CD to listen to as you work on these projects together.
6. Make Biography hanger people. A fun way to get your students excited about history!
7. This is a smaller version of the above activity. Who do you think these people are? I would love to know. The challenge of making a person out of paper resemble a person in life sounds like a blast to me.
Whether you study only one person or plan to do a semesters worth, this is a simple project your students might enjoy.
Step 1: Design your person.
Step 2: Attach a black piece of paper to their hand.
Step 3: fold a piece of white paper in half and glue the back side as shown in the image above.
Step 4: Have your student write a summery bio or interesting facts about their person.
8. Make a clothes pin replica of your person. Use paint, old fabric, or scrapbook paper. This may be too girly for your boys but I could totally see Clark Kent as a clothes pin person. Notice I use the word person and not doll in attempts to make the project more manly for those who have boys.
9. There is always the lap book option. This one is quite creative. I like the idea of labeling years and under the flap you can write what important event took place in their life at that time. I also like the idea of using words to describe someone. Under that flap you write an example from their life that proves they have that quality.
10. Now this is a project we are for sure going to do! I saw one on Pinterest that had holes cut for the hands and the child was wearing her poster as she read the report. Classy!
11. This was a very modern idea that I am sure none of us did in school. Create a facebook page for your famous person!
Likewise, here is a link from Teacher Pay Teachers to Instagram your bio.
12. These students used water bottles to make their bio heroes. I'm guessing that's a painted tennis ball for the head. Anyone else feeling the need to invest in some yarn with all these people making projects?
13. A good way to get your students to listen to the Bios is by having them listen for something specific like character traits. Keep this board up with blank post its so your kids can add to it quickly and easily when they hear an adjective.
This is a more fancy-fied version on the above activity:
Forget the common core stuff. Ain't nobody got time fo dat. Instead do this:
Step 1: make a life size body out of paper. Trace your tallest child- they are close enough to life size ;-).
Step 2: Draw a face and simple clothes but don't color them in. Remember, modest is the hottest.
Step 3: Write on the the cut out body interesting facts about your person. Be sure to include their name. When you unroll this project at graduation, your memory may not be to clear as to whom this person may be.
Helpful Biography Links and Resources:
BIOGRAPHY.COM - This is a very nice site with lots to do and learn. Nice videos and interactives “for children to learn about the fascinating people who have contributed so much to our world and history. Featured profiles include George Washington, Charles Dickens, Jules Verne, Davy Crockett, Pocahontas, and Christa McAuliffe.”
WHO WAS SERIES- Biography Series cost about $5 each on amazon. I personally own a few of these books and they are good. Not flashy, but simple enough to understand. Not too long. Good for vocab words, too.
These books are a little more of a classical approach. I've read two of these. I loved the color prints. They are more pricey then the above books.
MAKINGARTFUN.COM- is great resource website if you want to choose and artist. This website has videos, worksheets, instructions and such. I'm thinking of looking more into this site to teach Art History to J though it.
PATRIOT COLORING PAGES- Do a google search for color pages of the person you are studying. Dover Coloring Books carries a couple of bio books so check them out, too.
I would love to hear your ideas or see your projects in the comments below. Have suggestions on who to read about? Let me know! Follow me on Pinterest for more inspiration!