As the mother of four I am often asked how to keep children interested in history, as it is so important. Children that find a love for history don’t just make great citizens but a love for history can lead to many great things later down the road. Some might not be that obvious – history majors are often sought after by med schools and other important factions- that even relate to the crisis today. The White House Historical Association and many presidential libraries have a wonderful selection of puzzles, games and more on their sites right now (some are even on sale) that can help assist conversations about history.
Here are some of my favorites for kids – of all ages:
Avenue in the Rain and the Blue Room Extreme Double Puzzle are my some of my personal favorite puzzles- (Extreme Double Puzzle also comes in the Red Room with iconic Dolly Madison and also the Green Room with founding father Benjamin Franklin – I just ordered the other two).
For those with little ones, the Presidential Pets Puzzle was a favorite of all my girls when they were younger and one that I give regularly as a birthday present. (If you have a copy of my second book, Pets at the White House (there is a limited supply left available at the Reagan library!) you can then read to them about who these pets belonged to! There are many fun stories on many of these iconic pets such as Caroline Kennedy’s pet pony Macaroni and Millie, Barbara Bush’s Springer Spaniel. I can even still occasionally find copies of her fabulous book Millie’s Book, as Dictated to Barbara Bush on ebay and more which all children and adults love. The White House Cut & Assemble, also on the WHHA website, is another great one.
Have a child that is interested in planes and space? The Reagan library has a ton of fabulous Air Force One toys and other products to choose from: Air Force One playing cards to this magnificent Mat-Deluxe Size Air Force One Play Set just to name a few. The Nixon library has a fabulous Presidential Helicopter Set in addition to their Apollo Lunar Module Kit to corollate with all six lunar touchdowns, beginning with Apollo 11 in 1969 and culminating with Apollo 17 in 1972, which occurred during Nixon’s presidency (making Richard Nixon the only president to witness a moon landing during his time in the White House).
If you have a fashionista- there are so many ways to get them into stories of First Ladies. One of the favorites for kids is the Fashions of the First Ladies Paper Doll book. For the preteens- no better way to get them interested in First Ladies and American history than through fashion! Look through all the fabulous quarterly journals “White House History,” – and see Number 52 with Haley Rivero’s article “The Jackie Look”. And for the moms, if you want to treat yourself my absolute favorite book of all is Nancy Reagan: A First Lady, my girls and I love looking through this book.
Don’t forget to remember our elderly! My girls have been using the White House Postcards to color and send notes to their grandparents and great aunts and uncles that they can’t visit right now because of social distancing.
Of course for kids there is nothing better than Cat in the Hat, and the Nixon Foundation also sells One Vote, Two Vote, I Vote, You Vote. At the end of the day “An informed patriotism is what we want,” said President Reagan. So this flip book is a great thing to go through with your child: The United States Government.
Enjoy! I hope everyone is staying healthy!