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Finding Your Heritage
by Jen Holmstrom

In almost every town, there is a historic site, home, or museum. The site will signify the local culture and history. When you set out to find a place to visit for your curriculum, a local historic site would be a great choice.

For younger children, it is interesting to be introduced to another way of life and to understand that things change over time. They are not familiar with washboards or wood burning stoves these days. Even a record player is foreign to current generations. And older children will benefit from the investigative work it will take to find out more about your town’s past. Sometimes there are some fascinating stories to dig up.

The best way to incorporate this into your curriculum would be to find the closest site available, and schedule a tour. The year of the house can determine how you will supplement the trip with lesson plans and projects.

For example, in Santa Ana, California is the Howe-Waffle House Museum. The house was built in 1889 and was home to two well known physicians who raised their family there in Orange County. If I were to visit the site, I would look up what books were written around that time or books that are about that time period. My children could read the book and do a report about it. We could also research how medicine was practiced in that time. Since Willella Howe was a prominent female physician, which was very rare for the time, we could also research women’s rights and how that had developed in the local area.

(Source: http://www.santaanahistory.com/dr_howe-waffle.html)

Here is a list of some of the more appealing historic homes in the US:

http://www.traditionalhome.com/lifestyle/travel/25-best-historic-homes-america

Some of these homes are so rich with history and talented architecture, that it would be almost impossible to visit without taking some memorable photos. Take your budding photographers to get some inspiration to build up a fabulous portfolio.

While visiting a historic site, you are surrounded by antiques and vintage photographs. This can spark more interest in history, and can even encourage some to decorate their home in a retro manner. And there is usually someone who asks the tour guides if the site is haunted. Most historic homes have some story about hauntings, which can be fun for the kids to hear. And these historic sites often inspire people to dig up their own family’s history.

Thankfully, there are historical sites preserved all over the world, allowing us to experience the past in a more hands on manner; giving us insight into the lives of those who came before us. Take advantage of these places and if you can, and volunteer your time or donate to these sites in order to support the preservation of history.

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