Museums are in a unique position to make history fun for kids. Take advantage of our informal learning environment and start a History Club!
Start by talking to teachers. Transportation is always a problem, so you might have better luck having a school host your History Club. Plus teachers can help spread the word and generate interest among their students.
Establish a regular schedule for meeting. Try to work around the kids’ schedules, but know that kids are busy and no time will be perfect. If there is a late bus at the school, meet right after their last class ends.
You don’t have to do it all yourself. Ask other people in your community to come speak to the History Club. Find local authors, college professors, “history buffs,” antique dealers and collectors to talk to the kids. Don’t forget other staff members at the museum. You can also ask an intern to develop a program for the History Club.
Pick topics that are interesting and FUN! To connect with kids, you have to do something that resonates in their lives. What about a program on the history of dating? Or dancing? Or sports? There is a history behind everything. You can even ask the kids what they’d like to learn more about.
Use your collections. Bring an artifact, photograph or document to share. In today’s world of digital technology and virtual reality, an authentic experience is rare.
Check out some young adult history titles and have a book discussion based on the theme. Historical fiction can help bring a time period alive for kids. Or watch some movies set in the past and talk about the parts that are authentic and what has been "Hollywood-ized."
Ask the kids to make a Museum of Me using items and photos that best describe them. Let them present their exhibits to the rest of the club.
Spend a few meetings talking to them about how to put together a "real" museum exhibit. Let them guest curate a small exhibit in your museum using artifacts and photos from your collection. Where else could kids get to do that?
Visit the Museums forum to share your ideas for History Club activities!