Friday, February 1, 2008

History Day Fair

National History Day is an organization devoted to improving the study of History and encouraging students to look indepth. All across the nation colleges and historical societies are sponsor local events for students to compete in a forum similar to science fairs. Most students create an exhibit examining a Historical event or person in light of the theme, this year's being Conflict and Compromise in history.
Other students are getting really creative with Performances, Documenatries, and Web Sites or are going really in depth writing 10 pages Essays. All are learning the importance of going to look at Primary resources rather than only reading other peoples opinions on an event. So they read the Declaration of Independance and the letters of Thomas Jefferson rather than a text book and an encyclopedia only.
Last night our homeschool group ran its local event and it went off well. 2 of us took over managing it a few years ago and while I love it I don't get to see all the displays while I'm in the back room. I definitly need to get a better plan in place.
That said the kids worked hard and the event went well. We had 26 students with 18 displays. Five parents helped with judging and we had a visit from the woman who runs the Regional competition at STCC in Springfield, Virginia Ahart. Her insight into which projects should move on to compete was so helpful and its always wonderful to meet a true educator out to find new ways to get students to grow.
One unique part of our night is Kids Vote! All the kids get a ballot and help choose the 'Most Fun' ' Most Informative' 'Most Colorful' 'Neatest' etc. It gives them a voice and gets them looking more carefully at each project so each child is exposed to new parts of history. Did you know that organge rabbits in England during World War II were part of a plan to win the war?
With homeschool families we get some very interesting ones and our little ones want to be included. we had an almost 5 year old who did Famous American Landmarks. The best was his 4 foot model of the Empire State Building complete with King Kong and Fay Ray! (but his favorite monster is Godzilla he told me.)

Lots more information is available at

Events are simple to run: Judging forms are available online as are the rules for those who wish to move on and compete. However at the local level you certainly do not need to use the rules as more than a guideline especially if you want to inclue little people. Participation Certificates are an easy take home to make for the kids. We ask $3 per exhibit(or per student) with a $10 max per family. If we have money left we give some toward the registration of students moving on to Regionals. We also set up a coloring contest for the little people. we have even had a quiz for the grown ups matching famous people to a list of quotes. Get creative! Start one for your community!

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