Hands on History
Learning by Doing

Crafts, cooking, and toys are a part of hands on history. Projects can help your child understand different time periods.

Handcrafts and Replicas

When we were studying about pioneer life we made a mob cap, and quilted potholder.

mop cap quilt potholder

Boys might like to do make something out of wood using hand tools.

You can also make replicas. We made a butter turn out of a coffee can and a dowel. If you do not want to use fabric and tread you could make a quilt pattern out of colored paper.

There are craft books for different time periods such as;

  • The Crafts and Culture of the Ancient Hebrews 1st ed. by Jovinelly, Joann.
  • The Crafts and Culture of the Ancient Greeks 1st ed. by Jovinelly, Joann.
  • The Crafts and Culture of the Aztecs 1st ed. by Jovinelly, Joann.
  • My Little House crafts Book : 18 Projects from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House Stories by Collins, Carolyn Strom.


We did a lot of cooking when my children were young. We made butter, bread, and hard tack. You can find recipe books at you local library. We have used The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods form Laura Ingalls Wider's Classic Stories by Barbara M Walker when were studying about pioneer life.

We use the cookbook Civil War Cookbook by William C Davis when we were studying about the civil war.

Each American Girl doll also has a cookbook for different time periods in the United States history.


Toys can also be used for hands on history activities. We have used Lego bricks to make replicas of forts and castles. You can read more about using Lego bricks for homeschol activities here.

My girls liked to play with paper dolls. Dover Publications has themed paper dolls reasonably priced.

Coloring books are also fun for most children. We have used the Light and Glory and From Sea to Shining Sea coloring books. I had my children color pages when I read from the books.

Dover Publications also has coloring books with a historical theme.

We aslo played history games.

Museums and Reenactments

While we may not think of museums as being a hands on history project, there are some museums that cater to children. We have gone to a pioneer museum when my children were younger. In the museum were a farm and a one-room schoolhouse. On the farm they had to do some chores such as milk the goat and find eggs. In the school they had to sit at a desk while they listened to more about pioneer life.

At historical reenactments children can see how people in history did things. We have seen a blacksmith, how pioneers made a fire with flint and a tinder box, and how people dressed. At reenactments sometimes you can buy food of the time period.

Lapbooks and Unit Studies

A lot of families use lapbooks or unit studies for hands on history projects. There are quite a few historical themes that you can choose from. Some are;

  • Ancient Egypt
  • Ancient Greece
  • Ancient Rome
  • The Middle Ages
  • The Renaissance and Reformation
  • The 20th Century
  • Colonial America

With lapbooks your child can share what he has learned about different eras with other people.

Using hands on history projects help children learn to love history.

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