Wednesday, December 29, 2010

History Fair

I need to catch up a little. Over ten years ago, I started a history fair for our homeschool group. It's pretty much just like a science fair, though in our case there is no competition to have the best project. Everyone gets an award and a comment sheet. Community members volunteer as 'judges' to visit each project, ask questions, listen to the students and make comments for the students. I also allow the students to present any 'drama' such as a skit, speech, or demo. Some years, I have invited special guests w/ a history passion, such as a local re-enactor.
I wanted to start a History Fair, because hands on projects are usually the best way to 'internalize' history and geography, but the motivation for mom to handle the mess is not always high enough for 'just at home.' By providing a place to showcase work, we encourage both the students and the moms who help, to present history in a more formal, public way. Most students make a tri-fold display board. Many make 3-D models, arts/crafts- paper mache, clay items, kits from craft stores and my all time favorite: food from the period/culture. Some students wear costumes too. It is a lot of fun for not that much work. Our History fair is in the fall, after Halloween and before Thanksgiving. This year, our younger co-op students did projects on the early middle ages and our older co-op students did Alexander the Great. They picked these topics because that was what we were covering this fall. But some students pick projects that they are especially interested. We usually have about 30 students from the area- and the variety of topics is always exciting. I always believe in double duty. If you have to write a paper for History and a speech for Speech class and attend the history fair; why not write 1 speech on your history topic and present it at the fair w/ some pictures/art? Voila, 3 subjects with 1 effort. I thought I had great pictures of their projects, but alas, I can't find them. The younger students made pockets for spoon puppets and flaps/doors over their information on their display board- sort of a huge lapbook. The older students had the 'speech', maps and a hand drawn time line as some of their items. And with the help of my friend and fellow mom, they made a paper mache dragon head. By doing group projects the moms can help out where they are more gifted. While one mom did paper mache, the other helped make Greek dolmas. [stuffed grape leaves]
If there is not already a history fair in your area, you might just want to start one!