Historical past content material for youths
So this one is for fellow historical past fan mother and father. Youngsters are uncovered to some form of historical past content material from very early on – by means of video games and tales, and I’d very a lot encourage that. Essential the narratives are very simplified and infrequently perhaps a bit dated (knight in shining armor, cowboys & indians that form of stuff).
I’d be curious to know what’s your expertise in balancing youngsters (and also you!) having enjoyable with out perpetuating varied misconceptions whereas not being “Uhm, truly..” at each flip.
Hope that is the best subreddit.
Comments ( 39 )
So this is a good question, and I think there is some room for some discussion on this here.
I think mainly you need to look at how teachers approach this subject. At the early levels we do need to stick a bit to narratives. This does create some issues as it does simplify “history” to the point where a lot of people think that just telling the stories is what historians do, when in reality we just call that class “history” for simplicity’s sake. Because what historians do is far more complex, and we try purposefully to avoid narratives and story-telling.
But this method is effective for younger kids for a few reasons. 1) It’s simple. To compare it with science, it’s a popular meme, but there’s a reason people still remember things like “mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell”; that’s effective teaching. Some kids are going to want to go “okay, but what does that actually mean, what’s actually happening?” and learn more, but for the average person with no real desire to learn more about cells beyond the requirements this is ensuring that kids have a basic basic basic understanding.
So in comparison to history, we might say “Ostracism was a practice in Ancient Athens created by Cleisthenes in the late 6th century that allowed the people to remove politicians that they saw as dangerous which began in the early 5th century.”
Anyone familiar with ostracism at an academic level would immediately go on about the weaponisation of ostracism, how it did pretty much nothing to help the Demos, and that its origins (while still more firmly in the Cleisthenic origin/Hipparchos camp) are murky when we take into account the problems of the fragmented statement of Androtion compared with that of Aristotle and the whole τοτε πρωτον debate.
But you’ve lost most kids, and most undergrads, at that point. That’s point 2 about why narratives are good, they’re a bit more accessible for everyone. If a student shows they’re really keen on ostracism and really interested in ancient Greek and historiography and want to learn these things it’s easy enough to open up and start going “well, it does get a bit complicated, but…” and scale up the lessons. But if kids walk away at the end of the term knowing “Cleisthenes. Ostracism. Athens. Politicians sent away” then that’s a win.
And this is visible throughout most podcasts, most youtube videos, and Popular Histories. People tend to want the story told to them, and then allow themselves to branch out if something in particular piques their interest.
And after a long winding rant which ironically boils down to “get to the point, you’ll keep people more interested in that way” I’ll do so. The point being that you can still teach your kids the truth, and not hide the dark parts of history from them. But also you want them to be engaged, and you want them to learn early to start exploring, to start questioning. If you tell them a bit and they just respond “okay” then leave it at that. But ask them if they have any questions, ask them what they think, get them talking and if they show interest in developing a wider understanding then you can guide them towards that. And don’t be afraid to say “You know, I don’t know, but let’s find out” and teach them how to find information, how to check out books from the library, etc. Hell, do that even if you do know the answer sometimes.
Being a kid is kinda like an internship. You want them to understand how to do the basics and get them to the point where they can take out the rubbish without accidentally starting a fire, but a lot of interns lead to great employees, and some even to bosses. But it’s not going to happen all at once. Build that foundational knowledge, and let them add to it, guide them as you see fit, but don’t pile things on if they’re not keen. So discuss Columbus, discuss transatlantic trade, and even slaves, but let them start to connect the pieces and just facilitate their learning instead of just megaphoning knowledge at them. Eventually you could get to a point where a kid wants that, and wants to have in depth, lengthy, difficult conversations about the dark parts of history, but it won’t be on day one.
Hope this helps and I’ve actually answered your question instead of just ranting away.
My boys have enjoyed a few episodes of the podcast You’re Dead to Me
I loved the horrible history books as a kid and have watched the cbbc series as an adult and loved it. Is it an accurate representation of history? No, it isn’t really. Did it get me super interested in history? Yes, and I and many people I know, even the really nit picky historian types give it a pass because it gets kids into the idea that history isn’t just a series of events written in boring books.
I also do school history workshops and try and bring along as many props/replicas as possible so the kids can be hands on. The best objects are:
Clothing – always one kid who tries to wear everything I have and then overheats because it’s mainly wool and they were already wearing school uniform
Quern – it spins! It hypnotizes, they can see it working as the grain turns to flour and they are all waiting to take turns
Flint and steel – difficult to get right but keeps them focussed
Weapons… doesn’t need much of an explanation why
Kids respond to stuff that is sort of familiar to their day to day life but not the same, it gives them something to relate to!
Where in Time is Carmen San Diego was fun. Then later the computer game ” A Brief History of Time” with the accompanying book by Stephen Hawking.
There was another computer game where time was all scrambled up and the player had to put time back together by knowing which object or invention could be used to solve a puzzle. Can’t recall the name of the game though it was from 1995/1996.
One of the first puzzles was how to lower the draw bridge to get into the castle. You had to go to the apothecary shop and get a flask of Phosphorous to add to a screen where you turned knobs to get a sine wave on the now working oscilloscope to match a carving on the stone next to it, then the draw bridge opened. Then to get into the basement you had to get the steam powered pump to draw more than 32 feet of water. The solution was to dip a bucket into cold water and put it under the condenser cylinder of the steam engine so that the steam was cooled more quickly, creating a vacuum permitting the steam pump to pump another 32 feet of water out of the basement.
Now the nuclear reactor was accessible and you had to add cadmium control rods to the reactor in order to control the reaction and generate electricity so you could go to the telegraph office and send a message. But first had to find the player piano in the saloon that played horrible music because the player piano roll had been coded with Morse code not music. Put the player roll into the auto telegraph and the message gets sent in Morse code to call your mont golfier balloon to come pick you up.
The game kept going with all kinds of inventors puzzles having to be solved.
Cannot remember the name of the game but there was also a sinister figure who would show up and mess up time again if you were taking too long to solve any one puzzle.
I’d start off with Spanish Inquisition and then go from there
There is a french animation franchise with the title “Once Upon a Time…”. They did a series about human biology, history, science fiction, the age of discovery and the history of the USA and while it is dated, it’s some of the best material I have experienced that gives young children a broad understanding of history and science in general.
I would start young children with that before anything else and leave deeper topics of history for later.
Edit: Also if your child starts to take interest in any part of history. Feed them books from Osprey Publishing. They go a damn good job of showing the tools and clothes of past centuries and you learn more about history if you know the technologie the people had back then in their daily lifes, than from tales of wars and political events.
Time Team! My son and I loved watching it together.
I homeschool both my sons, and as part of their classwork, we play The Campaign for North Africa
I loved the Horrible History books. They’re not always accurate, but they’re entertaining.
When I was a kid my parents were pretty laid back about what I read because it was always educational, however that meant 6/7 year old me reading about the Holocaust in an encyclopaedia and seeing photos that I still can’t unsee. Also the atomic bombs and their aftermath… the teacher wasn’t too impressed when I started talking about that in our WW2 history lesson.
It must be tricky getting the balance right, because it’s so easy to gloss over things, oversimplify events to the point where it’s no longer accurate, or kids can be exposed to the absolute horrors of humankind when they’re a little too young.
I quite liked reading encyclopaedias because they contain a lot of factual information, but not too much at once and not too much detail. I think that’s pretty good for kids because they’re learning, but the entrees are quite short so their attention can be kept.
The basic detail they give is also just enough to get the interest of a child so they can then learn how to seek further information about something they’re interested in
I am a 13 year old and I love history it’s my favorite topic
For high school-age kids and mature middle schoolers, Crash Course on YouTube is good. Turn on closed captioning — John Greene talks really quickly.
The People’s History of the United States, by Howard Zinn
Curiosity channel has great kid history/science programs, well worth the subscription.
They are so well done my children in gradeschool has even sat with me through entire episodes of evolution 😛
Horrible Histories books and tv show were absolutely great as a kid. Now I watch documentaries and listen to podcasts on HistoryHit (historical streaming service) as an adult.
I’m in my late 30’s but my first exposure to history told as a story was watching the James Burke show Connections when I was like 5.
I understood very little of the details, but I loved the overall story of how technology progresses in small steps instead of big leaps. I’ve watched the series many times over through the years, and picked out more and more things as I grew up.
I consider it a large part of the reason why I like history so much.
I have created this playlist, containing all of human history, the birth of the universe, all the way around the industrial revolution.
(Myths, fables videos included as well)
Simple History on YouTube, Oversimplified, Curiosity channel, Crash Course on YouTube.
English Heritage has some nice bits and bobs on their Kids Rule page, they have some kid’s content on their YouTube too. https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/members-area/kids/
Make recipes off of Max Miller’s Tasting History. He includes history, it’s a fun group activity, nothing too offensive about it.
Honestly, though, a lot of kids aren’t built for nuance. That tends to come later. Most people who grew up with the idea of knights in shining armor, cowboys and Indians, or noble samurai had no problem adopting the reality that the knights, cowboys, and samurai were people too and therefore frequently the bad guys in the situation and that native Americans aren’t from India.
My son has always been very interested in various things. I used to read atronomy books to him when he was 2 and 3.
After that he could read well enough to read by himself (and his attention moved to Ninjago etc.).
One thing he always liked was books from Mauri Kunnas (he did books with dogs and cats as main characters, telling about vikings, pirates, Kalevala, all the good stuff). You could check if you find something similar.
They are stories tweaked to be suitable for kids (like in Kalevala Aino didn’t commit suicide but chased after Väinämöinen etc.). Little humour etc.
And of course plain old documentaries. Kids love that stuff, or my son loves. Or if a kid can read, give them books. Proper history books, there’s always some well written ones.
I have the show Histeria! To thank for presenting history in a way that started a lifelong passion for history. But obviously it was mostly wrong or heavily simplified and I know that now but it was all about getting the ball rolling for me I hope there’s something similar out there today
[If you can find episodes of Hysteria from WBkids it’s a great cartoon from back in the day.](https://youtu.be/bWB31s5OxVc)
YouTube channel: Extra Credit History
I can’t recommend it enough!
Playing through the historical campaigns in *Age of Empires* and *Age of Empires II*, without skipping introductions or cutscenes.
I played Assassins Creed way too young without my parents knowing and I now hope to start my MA in history next year. I agree with OP, this works. (based on my anecdotal experiences)
I played CIV 3 as a kid and it sets you up for one of the most important parts of history without really thinking about it. Geography. Why are river cities OP in CIV, its becuase they’re OP in real life. What does technology look like, how are some of these things related. Youre kid wont say these things aloud but the game does a really good job at giving a framework to think about history from a wholistic point of view.
Its a game that also shows a bunch of different cultures that arent super common in the western narrative. They also tend to have some interesting bios that are neat to read.
I was about 7-8 when I started playing. Just really fun engaging games that dont force history on you but deffinitly give a softer approach to many different parts of history.
Also Giant Death Robots are cool.
Once upon a time is great. The French animated show.
I started getting into history when I was very young through commemerative coins, I have gotten other people interested in history by showing them some of the more interesting things in my collection, such as my WWI gas artillery shell and very well used WWII gas mask. You can’t exactly force people to like history, but showing them stuff from it and helping them remember it can help someone realise how fun and interesting history can be.
Approx age? There’s stuff I’d recommend to a 12 year old but not a 3 year old.
Townsends, for sure. Townsends above all else – especially content made by Jon. (Some of his crew are good, but Jon has that Mister Rogers spark.)
PBS Eons if they want to learn about dinosaurs and prehistoric megafauna. (They do mention extinction events, which might be scary for very young kids.)
I’ll second Crash Course.
Tasting History with Max Miller, if they’re like 10+. The content is clean and _very_ good, but he’s not going to give you a super simplified narrative.
There’s a web series on youtube called Extra Credits. I love their content. It was originally a video game channel, then they wound up covering some stuff from video games as actual history and it kinda took on a life of its own. They typically cover specific topics, but those topics are usually very interesting. Check out the series on [The Broad Street Pump](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TLpzHHbFrHY).
mike Duncan (from history of Rome) did some graduate videos about the real story behind Paul reveres ride. at one point Paul Revere is stopped by the British while going back for John Hancock’s salmon.
when they let him go i cracked, wait a minute, that’s not just any salmon, THAT’S JOHN HANCOCK’S SALMON.
Now one of my kids gets a gift from John Hancock’s salmon for xmas every year.
I know yall are going to hate this suggestion, but my younger teens love Drunk History.
It’s hilariously funny and serves as a jumping off point for them to do their own research. They have studied several specific people and events we only learned about by watching DH.
(DH is also teaching them that too much alcohol makes you demonstrably stupid, which is a good lesson to learn at a young age.)
Yes…we watched Horrible Histories, but it always rubbed them the wrong way…trying to be too funny and silly, and over too quickly. I would have to jump in and tell them what each sketch was actually referencing. (But then the show would have done three more sketches in that time.)
They all have simplified history youtubers they watch and some of them are very good. My 12yo just did a school project on Yugoslavia after watching some youtube video about it.
Honestly my dad taught me how to play civilization as a kid and I learned more about history from that game than I did in any class up till high school.
When they are older I recommend the pacific and band of brothers. If they enjoy gaming I suggest bf1 for some ww1 knowledge not all of it is accurate. A good amount can be back up via books along with history.com and brittanica.
Try Mike Duncan’s podcasts. The History of Rome and Revolutions are great in-depth history podcasts, and they dont get too raunchy.
I don’t have a kid yet, but my younger brother loves to watch about the history on YouTube.
I would recommend them to play battlefield 1, it is a first person shooter set in World War 1, it has a campaign where you can play some of the most beautiful and heart breaking real stories from the Great War, and an online version where you can play even on the fronts that aren’t portrayed more often by the media (like the Italian, Ottoman, and Russian front both against the germans and during the civil war).
It does a beautiful job because it teaches how war is at the same time an horrible thing and an intricate part of humanity, its actually really poetic from time to time, but of course, there is a big use of violence so I recommend it only if your kids are old enough.