All green, nature, and sustainability posts have been moved to Loving Nature's Garden

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Living History in your homeschool

This is a guest post by Lisa Shoreland.

History lessons can become dull when they are full of dates, long lines of royal ancestry, and political play-by-plays. There's no need to make homeschool history like that!

Studying how the people of a certain time period lived every day, including what they ate, where they worked, and how they dressed, can help bring history to life, especially for younger children. Going to museums or looking at picture books are great ways to illustrate historical concepts, but hands-on projects make for more exciting learning.

Cosplay for Learning

Short for “costume play,” cosplay is a popular hobby among both comic book and gaming fans and history buffs. War reenactments and Renaissance festivals (RenFaire being the most popular) are perfect examples of cosplay in action. The costumes are created to match the details and styles of the period for which they are trying to emulate.

Of course, creating a full-sized Elizabethan gown with embroidery and bead work, a functioning ruff, corset and all the underpinnings might be a bit more than you can fit into a daily history lesson – and probably far above your skill level, and your child’s. But there are many ways to use costuming in your history lessons, no matter your skill level or your time commitment.

Attend Festivals and Shows

Just seeing all the lavish costumes can be inspiration enough for your children. There are Renaissance Faires held in each state at different times of the year. Of course, the time period covered is the Renaissance era, so you will only find a certain kind of costume at this festival. Other great places to see historical costumes are war reenactments and historical sites, where many of the characters are dressed in historical costume. With reenactments, you can even get a front-row seat to a simulated war scene. Search for what’s local to your area. A final option is to visit a museum when there is a costume display. Many history museums will feature a costume section, though the selection may be limited.

Sew Them Yourself

If you’re up for a challenge, you can create your own historical costumes with your children. You don’t have to start from scratch. If you do want to cut and sew your own costume, you can buy a pattern from a local fabric store. Patterns are available for many different kinds of historic dress. If you do choose to sew your own costume, you can easily combine the lesson with an arts or “home ec” lesson.

If you don’t want to sew the whole costume, you can find used clothing to alter to your needs. An old long-sleeved shirt would be easy enough to convert into a tunic with a slit at the neckline and some string. Likewise, a corset could be worn over a blouse and billowy skirt to create a female costume. Help you children think creatively by looking at ways they can transform objects by adding some elements and taking away others.

If you don’t want to sew any of the costume, there are tools that can help you “sew” without ever having to thread a needle, including fabric glues and fusible fabrics.

The only limit to what you can do is your creativity!

Bio: Lisa Shoreland is currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she's been researching scholarships for music students. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, taking weekend trips, and practicing martial arts.

Are your kids into cosplay? Have they made any historical costumes?

Photo courtesy of Steven Groves from FlickR under a creative commons license.


Vicki said...

My family has only been to two Ren festivals so far, but we absolutely love them! Living history makes learning so much more fun then just reading about it. =) Great post!

Alison Kerr said...

Hi Vicki, you are beating me. I've only been to one Ren Fest. I'd been meaning to go for years and I really enjoyed it. Thanks for your comment :)

jugglingpaynes said...

My husband and I met partly because he was working at a Renaissance festival and I wanted comp tickets. We have been to many, including a small one in Hungary before we had kids. We had no idea what was going on at that one!

It's good to see a new post here!

Peace and Laughter,

Alison Kerr said...

Hey Cristina,
That's a great story. Thanks for stopping by. I wish I had the energy to post here more often.

Laura said...

Cool blog, just found it today.

Alison Kerr said...

Hi Laura, I'm glad you came along. Do come back to visit :)

poo-head said...

Hey Alison! Creativity is a wonderful thing, and can be nurtured I believe, so kudos to you for doing so. The Red faires sound like fun, though I've never been!

I think I've finished my story you commented on some time ago if you want to check it out! Not sure if I've finished or not!


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Marianne said...

This has always been a highlight in our homeschool. My son loved creating amazing history days in which he would invite friends around and we would play the games/ competitions of the time period. Here are some images of our World War I day.
It was fun making costumes and creating activities to do.
We haven't been to any Festivals though. Sounds fantastic.

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