Getting school students interested in history is easy when you have some fun activities to hand. Often, all that students need is to be able to visualize the past, to engage with it and to relate it to their own lives – and it will come alive for them. Different students have different learning styles (some learn through talking and interaction, for instance, whilst others prefer a more visual learning style), so make sure to use plenty of different activities so that all of the students in the class can learn. The more interested and engaged they are with the past, the more that they will feel they want to learn more about it!
You can find on this website details of some castles that would be perfect for a school outing. Most children are fascinated by castles, and often there is room to run around!
Dress up and re-enact
Few things get history into kids’ heads more than re-enacting it. Whether you want to put on a play depicting a scientific discovery or stage a debate about a major political event, the very act of getting involved with their bodies will help your class to stay switched on throughout the history lesson. Teaching them to research contextual details such as costumes, the chain of events that led up to the moment that they are re-enacting and the biographies of the main historical figures that they are looking at, will all add depth to their understanding.
Visit a historic site or artefact
Whether you pay a visit to a battlefield or head down to a museum to check out a mosaic, there is no denying that seeing is believing here. School students who found it hard to understand what chain mail was will find it much easier when they have touched some (even if that is a replica in a museum). If you do not have the resources or time to pay a visit out of the classroom, bringing in some historic photographs or paintings will serve a similar function.
Hire an Expert
A fully costumed historian can visit your school to present a history workshop on and period. The best presenters will bring along a variety of historical resources that can be handled by the students. One of the best is Medieval Days who will attend all schools and cover most periods of English History. They can even arrange a school history visit by an expert bringing hundreds of historical resources and activities.
Engage all of the senses
Try researching and then cooking Tudor recipes, or listening to some Renaissance instruments playing traditional tunes on Youtube. Learn a dance from centuries ago, or teach your class to do embroidery in the way that it was done in the year 1900. Engaging all of the senses in creative ways really is a great teaching tool. When you combine activities like this with theoretical and factual knowledge about the time period (for instance, a mini Tudor feast could round off a lesson on English court hierarchy), you will have a class full of interested students who are willing and eager to learn more.