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How to Teach History to Preschoolers

Updated on September 6, 2012

Teaching history to preschoolers can be quite a challenge. Grasping the idea of the past or a long time ago can be very difficult. The following are ways to go about introducing the topic of history to a young child.

One way to start introducing the past is to show your preschooler pictures of him or herself when they were a baby.You can explain that in the past they were a tiny baby. You can then explain that mom and dad used to be babies. And grandma and grandad used to be babies. Your child probably won't immediately grasp this but it is a way to get them thinking about what the past means. Preschoolers are old enough to remember events from days or weeks before. Bring these up and mention that they happened in the past.

History can be fun and interesting for preschoolers
History can be fun and interesting for preschoolers

Using Books to Teach History to Preschoolers

There aren't very many history books geared toward preschoolers. One that can be used with preschoolers is the Usborne First Encyclopedia of History. This book covers world history. It has short, easy-to-understand text. However, you don't have to read all of the text. Explaining the pictures can be far more effective. You can point out that in the past people didn't have paper to write on, so they used clay tablets. Point out the different clothing people wore in different time periods. Point out the different weapons that they used.

The First Little House Books series are a way to introduce history in a story format. Again, point out the different clothing people wore, how they got around, the kinds of houses they lived in, etc. When you read fairy tales or any other books set in the past, do the same thing.

The Magic Tree House is a series of books that can be read to preschool and kindergarten age kids. The main characters Jack and Annie regularly travel back in time. The Magic Tree House is a fun way to expose kids to history.

Videos and Apps

Learn About History for Preschool and Elementary Age Kids is a video designed to introduce the idea of history to young children. It explains that there was a time when there were no cars or planes. People didn't have running water. It shows the different kinds of clothes people used to wear. It explains that inventors had to create the things we have now.

A YouTube channel called NowYouKnowAbout has several fun cartoon videos that introduce some famous people in history. Younger children may enjoy these videos. Scroll through the videos to find the cartoons.

You can introduce your preschooler to US presidents with a fun game called Presidents Vs Aliens. It is available as an iPad, iPhone and Android app. You can limit the options in settings to focus mainly on name recognition.


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    • hecate-horus profile image

      hecate-horus 5 years ago from Rowland Woods

      Great suggestions. I wish I had done more to teach my former preschoolers about history. They don't do nearly enough history in schools, and I believe it's a very important and interesting subject.