History.com is the website of what we in Australia call the History Channel which you can watch if you have Austar. There are many excellent resources at this site, as well as some I found that didn't seem too history-related at all. Not all of it is US history, there is a lot of world history too. AND, if you're looking for video games where your kids might actually learn something, there are some here that get the Book Chook feather of approval.
Why is it that the nicest, most lovable people, who often also happen to be male, love games and videos and books about war? I know my son when younger would have adored the Action games at History.com. I tried Warriors but am ashamed to admit I wimped out. Fighting games just don't appeal to me. But what I saw looked good: nice graphics, no intrusive ads, free, historically accurate costumes. Besides Warriors, kids can choose from : Turf Wars, (fighting dinosaurs, but the trees are pretty) Dogfights:The Game ( fighting aeroplanes, this one is a download) WWII Experience (fighting WWII, download), Human Weapon Fighting Game (belting the stuffing out of the other player.)
No feathers of approval there, but it may be my particular bias rather than the quality of the games. However, one Action game appealed. In Hidden Spirits, you are a paranormal investigator, helping to solve the haunted mysteries of the Royal Mangnall Hotel. There's lots of reading involved in this one, and it makes a nice change from all that fighting.
Expedition: You must complete the 970 mile trek from Zanzibar to Ujiji, recreating the route Stanley took to find Livingstone. You roll digital dice to accomplish tasks and avoid problems. I love the interface on this game, nice muted art work, an aged and faded journal to read, authentic jungle sounds. It has a nice "choose your own adventure" feel to it, and would make a great model for kids to base a board game creation of their own on.
The Toy Shop: You must assemble toys from the parts provided. Too easy for older kids, but perfect for under 8s.
Pawn Stars: Try to match prices to the objects described. Think Antique Road Show. Not much educational value that I could see.
Place the State: Slot US states into their respective places on a map.
You'll also find matching and memory games, a time-line puzzle and some quizzes.
Searching the site for interactives, will bring you a long list to explore. Not all are games, but all I checked did their best to use multimedia to make history more accessible and real.
There is one interactive that purports to show a global perspective on WWII. Australia doesn't rate a mention which would have amused my soldier dad very much. This would be excellent for kids who want to understand more about the causes of WWII, with annotated photos in different slideshows. Just don't expect to see much about Australia!
My very favourite part of the website is the interactive, What's Your Dark Ages Character? I described it recently in my post about using avatars to help kids write. Basically, you upload your own photo, then dress yourself as someone from the Dark Ages. You can see me as the Viking, Gisli, the Stone Fortress, above. The profile on your character makes for interesting reading, and certainly tells it like I think it was. Although I do think it's a pity they didn't actually run around in hats with horns after all!
Because this website is linked to the History.com TV shows, you will find other good resources here, like video clips, and snippets from their shows, which of course are available for sale. Under Topics, there is a wealth of textual and pictorial information, like this page on Jamestown, the first permanent English settlement in North America. There are video clips about sharks and crocodiles too, and the mysterious Ogopogo, so don't let your youngster be put off by the word "history". These people know how to fascinate!
Do you know any other great websites that make learning history attractive to kids? I have another post about history resources coming soon, and would love to include your suggestions. You can contact me via the tab above, or here in comments below.