How cool would it be if you could travel back in time with your kids?
Reliving the civilizations of the past, how people lived their lives, the types of foods they ate, the clothes they wore, the things they used instead of modern technology to make life easier –
Wouldn’t that be an incredible way of learning more about the past?
Not just for kids but for adults too, time-traveling is an exciting idea.
History books, though rich in facts, figures, and statistics, can’t always recreate the finer details of the past.
Learning about a country’s past is a vital part of understanding their present.
Why do people follow certain customs?
Why do they eat a particular type of food?
What is the significance of their clothing, or their festivals, or their famous landmarks?
Wouldn’t it be great if you could travel back in time with your kids and find the answers to your questions first-hand?
Now, although I can’t build you a time travel machine to do just that, I can give you the next best thing.
Here are the 6 best ways you can travel back in time with your kids, and relive the great civilizations of the past, to better understand the present!
6 Ways to Travel Back in Time with Your Kids and Learn About the Civilizations of the World
1) Read Books
Of course, there are history books and textbooks, but I’m specifically talking about stories.
Did you know that novels and stories can transport you to a different world?
And I don’t just mean that poetically.
Neuroscientists find that the brains of people who have been reading novels show more significant growth and cognitive function.
Getting immersed in a good story can help your child’s brain develop.
They get to experience things that they physically can’t, like time travel, thanks to stories that activate their imaginations.
Through books, you can travel back in time and live amongst the people of ancient Greece or China, or the Mayan Empire.
You and your kids could learn about how these people used to live every day, the major inventions and industries which defined the period, the religions, cultures, and practices of the time.
Not only is this a great way to work out their visual skills, which are a critical part of effective learning, but they also learn a lot about the world without feeling that learning is tedious!
2) Play Trivia or Card Games
Why not make a family activity out of it and get some trivia card games to improve the family’s knowledge of history and great civilizations?
Professor Noggin’s card games, for example, give you great opportunities to travel back in time with your kids.
Remember, no one is going to know all the answers when you start the game.
But as you keep going over them, not only will you be learning new things, but you’ll be doing so while having fun!
This could be an excellent activity for kinesthetic learners who find it hard to sit still and concentrate when reading.
Introducing a time element to guessing the answers and making it into a competition increases engagement when playing the game.
All while you’re learning fun things about the past!
Not only is this great for learning about civilizations, but it also helps build your child’s ability to learn and recall.
Repetition and reviewing are essential parts of learning.
The more you come across certain information, the stronger your memories of that information becomes.
This is because the brain keeps building on the neural pathways involved with that knowledge.
So, playing this sort of game can boost your child’s brain for overall learning, not just learning history!
3) Play Computer Games
Video or computer games for kids are another excellent, interactive way to learn about the past!
Busy Things, for example, features games letting you interact with historical artifacts.
Activities include labeling different parts of the outfits of Romans or Tudors, or the components of a pirate ship.
It’s a great way of getting immersed in the past as well as learn new vocabulary and information.
BBC For Kids also has a ton of incredible resources to help you travel back in time with your kids!
Interactive, educational games let you immerse yourself in life in the past by exploring ancient Greece, building a pyramid for the Pharaoh, or managing a city during the Industrial Revolution!
By getting involved with elements of the past like this, kids get a truly immersive experience, which does feel like traveling back in time.
4) Go on Virtual Tours
It would be wonderful if we could visit the relics of bygone times to learn more about the great civilizations of the past.
But it’s not always possible to abandon our everyday lives and travel to another location.
Fortunately, technology makes visiting these places from the comfort of our homes more possible than ever.
Many museums, like the Smithsonian and the British Museum, offer virtual tours to let you explore all the history contained in their walls from your home.
Meanwhile, the BBC hosts a list of 3D virtual tours that transport you back into time – into a recreation of a Viking farm or a room in Elizabethan or Victorian times.
There are plenty of videos on YouTube of 360-degree virtual tours of landmarks in their heyday to try as you travel back in time with your kids, too!
With visual recreations of what places used to look like in the past, you can lose yourself and your sense of time by interacting with environments set hundreds or thousands of years ago.
5) Cartoons, TV Shows and Movies
Visual forms of storytelling, like cartoons and movies, can also greatly enhance your child’s imagination and understanding of what civilizations of the past were like.
Rather than just imagining events from reading about them, or seeing static images and recreations of older places, a movie, cartoon or TV show set in the past brings that period to life.
This is America, Charlie Brown: The Complete Series takes you down a journey through time along with this beloved gang through history.
With them, you encounter influential people and pivotal moments in American history, like the Wright Brothers, Alexander Graham Bell, and more!
The Prince of Egypt and Hercules bring to life two great ancient civilizations in an entertaining, fun way.
Anastasia is another beautifully animated film set a little more recently, though again, bringing a period of history to life.
The remake of Mulan by Disney promises to be a more historically accurate depiction of the titular character’s story and setting.
Many foreign language films also depict earlier periods.
They are an excellent way to introduce your kids to different cultures and broaden their horizons.
Treat them to some delightful, whimsical Studio Ghibli films like My Neighbor Totoro and Kirikou and the Sorceress.
Remakes of novels and books set in the past on-screen are also an exciting way to get your children’s attention!
Visually presenting the information helps kids reinforce and sharpen the mental images in their heads when they read or learn about civilizations.
They have a better idea of what things look like and how they’re used.
This can help complement and enhance their understanding of the past!
But remember, not all fictional stories are going to be one hundred percent historically accurate.
Pick and choose carefully and discuss the movies with your kids, to deepen their knowledge of history and feed their curiosity!
6) Videos and Documentaries
For full historical accuracy, there are plenty of videos and documentaries for kids to learn from too!
Like films, you’ll have to filter through content not suitable or understandable to younger children – but don’t worry.
There are lots of resources designed to hold children’s attention and simplify information so younger kids can absorb it easily.
EdYouToo and HomeSchool Pop are two YouTube channels that host informative history episodes with fun animations to capture children’s interests.
For older children, documentaries such as those hosted by FreeSchool or KidsKonnect featuring real footage are great options.
They can continue developing their understanding and appreciation of ancient civilizations and their legacies through these informative videos.
Understanding and appreciating the past is so vital for so many reasons.
It helps us understand how the world came to be the way it is now.
It helps us appreciate different cultures, their backgrounds and experiences, and what makes them who they are today.
Also, it helps them learn.
Not just in terms of the interesting facts and knowledge of these great civilizations, but also in all the ways it improves learning skills like visualization and memory.
So, what are you waiting for?
Now that you know how to time travel with your kids, let me know what adventures you’ll be going on!
Carole P. Roman is the award-winning author of over fifty children’s books including If You Were Me and Lived in Italy.
Whether it’s pirates, princesses, or discovering the world around us, her books have enchanted educators, parents, and her diverse audience of children. She
lives on Long Island near her children and grandchildren.