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[10 on Tuesday] 10 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Preservation


One of the reasons we preserve historic places is so that they can continue to tell the stories of our history for the next generation. But how effective is that goal if the next generation doesn't …

One of the reasons we preserve historic places is so that they can continue to tell the stories of our history for the next generation. But how effective is that goal if the next generation doesn't understand the value and significance of these places we've dedicated ourselves to saving?

This is why it’s so important to get kids involved and interested in historic preservation now: Ignite a passion for history and culture, and spark a lifelong commitment to saving places that matter.

Here are 10 things to do with kids in the classroom or at home to get them involved in and excited about historic preservation.

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  • 1. Inspiring Young Preservationists10 Ways to Get Kids Excited About Preservation Photo courtesy flickingerbrad, Flickr
  • 2. 1. Explore family history.Ask kids to investigate places that are significant to their familyhistory. Look at old photographs if you have them, and visit theseplaces if they’re still around. Compare the significance of theseplaces from when they were built and today. Photo courtesy lori05871, Flickr
  • 3. 2. Talk to neighbors.Encourage kids to talk to neighbors who have lived on their street fora long time. Find out what they remember about living there andabout the people who have moved on. Maybe they have oldphotographs of how the street and houses used to look.Tip: Consider recording the conversation. Oral histories are aninvaluable resource and provide a tangible link to our past. Plus, thisis good interview practice.
  • 4. Photo courtesy jramspott, Flickr3. Take a walk down Main Street.These authentic and traditional commercial districts are full ofhistoric buildings and shops that are vital to the community.Take this time to begin a discussion about why buying local isimportant.
  • 5. 4. Visit a historic site.Take kids to a historic site in your area, or stopby the local historical society or museum. Talkabout what stories are told at these places. Youmay be able to find an original map of thesurrounding area -- make a project out ofcomparing the old map to the currentsurrounding area. What’s changed? What’sstayed the same?Don’t forget to check if there is a historic site ofthe National Trust or a Partner Place near you.Photo courtesy woodleywonderworks, Flickr
  • 6. 5. Research your city.Assign a group history report andask students to research variousaspects of their city -- architecturalstyles, changes in neighborhoods,stories of well-known families andpolitical leaders, construction ofimportant historic buildings like CityHall, and more. What about each ofthese elements makes your cityunique? Photo courtesy Marcin Wichary, Flickr
  • 7. 6. Participate in a community project.Ask your historical society or local preservation organization if thereare any projects that your kids can get involved in. Help clean upand repair neglected buildings, plant trees in or around historicareas, or clean headstones in a local cemetery. Photo courtesy vastateparksstaff, Flickr
  • 8. 7. Write letters to publicofficials.In our last toolkit, we laid out varioussteps to take when lobbying forpreservation. Ask kids to write to (oremail) a member of Congress abouta certain historic place and explainwhat makes it special and worthpreserving. Photo courtesy woodleywonderworks, Flickr
  • 9. 8. Create a historicalrecord.Brainstorm the items that should be included ina historical record, like photographs,construction dates, architectural styles andfeatures, and stories of who lived there or usedthe building and for what. What kinds of thingswould someone want to know about this place in50 or 100 years? Then, put together your ownhistorical record.Photo courtesy vastateparksstaff, Flickr
  • 10. 9. Volunteer.Volunteering at a historical societyor museum can offer kids anopportunity to organize historicalrecords, set up displays, and createexhibits by collecting photographsand artifacts or writing labeldescriptions. You can also look foropportunities to become a juniordocent at a historic site, or help withresearch, such as title searches atthe county courthouse.(Some of these activities might bebetter suited for an older agegroup.) Photo courtesy mmmavocado, Flickr
  • 11. Photo courtesy woodleywonderworks, Flickr10. Create a historic walking tour.Ask kids what places they think are historic. Draw a map ofwhere these places are and create a tour that you would bringa visitor on. This is a great way to get kids thinking about whatbuildings are historic and why.
  • 12. Ten on Tuesday features ten preservationtips each week. For more tips,