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5 Hands-On Games for History or Social Studies Lessons

hands on learning ideas and materials for history

Research supports a multisensory/hands-on approach to learning. Hands-on learning engages students and leads to higher retention of concepts than the traditional lecture or “reading to retain” methods of learning. That’s why we recommend these five hands-on games/activities for history and social studies lessons

5 Games for History or Social Studies

1. The National Geographic Construction Model Kit lets students learn about Leonardo Da Vinci’s creations.

Students can build three wooden 3D machines from history (1400s/1500s). The three machines include a Ballista (an enormous crossbow), a Bombard (an early form of the cannon) and a mighty Catapult.

2. Way Back When in History Board Game

Go back in time! Players travel through five time periods in early America: Explorers, 13 Colonies, American Revolution, Constitution and the Civil War. The game aligns with national and state standards and is a wonderful learning tool.

3. History of the World Board Game

Take a ride through human history! Command mighty empires at the height of their power – from the dawn of civilization to the twentieth century.

In this fun game, minds work toward technological advances, ambitious leaders inspire their citizens, and unpredictable catastrophes occur while empires rise and fall.

4. Similo History

Similo is a cooperative game of reasoning. Players need to guess the secret historical character!

Cards are vibrant and bright. Children have 12 characters to choose from! When a player guesses the secret character it is removed from the pile.

Other character cards are used as clues to guess who the secret character is by comparing similarities and differences between the characters in a player’s hand and the mystery figure.

5. Buffalo Games Chronology

Which came first – the invention of mayonnaise or decaffeinated coffee? Lincoln’s Gettysburg address or John Deere’s first plow? With Buffalo Games Chronology you can test your knowledge!

Each player builds their own timeline of cards. When it’s your turn, someone will read you a historical event from a card. You decide where that event falls in your timeline. If you are correct, you keep the card and your timeline grows. The first player to build a timeline of 10 cards wins!

You Might Also Like: Hands-On Social Studies Curriculum

Can you make up your own hands-on or interactive activity for history?

Try these: Dress up like George Washington and pretend to struggle with “whether or not to chop down the cherry tree.”

Act out a scene from the civil war and record it!

Create a diorama of the pilgrims using art supplies (e.g., paper, markers, popsicle sticks, play-doh).

Multisensory/Hands-On Games and Toys for History Lessons

Hide toy historical figures in the sand and have your child or student find them! Put them in water and ask your child to take them out one at a time (e.g., take out Abe Lincoln, find the 16th president, etc.).

hands on and multisensory  learning ideas and materials

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