How To Make History Come Alive With Just What Is In Your Own Home

Happy Personal Paradise Tuesday! It’s that happy day again where we take something that is just sitting around our everyday existence and capture it in a new light to make something wonderful in our day.

This week I had a wonderful chance to make a tiny spark of history come alive for my children. I’m sure many of you have had the experience of while reading a book to your children you look at their faces and you begin to realize that they can seem to quite connect completely with the events in progress because they can’t picture the character’s life and times quite accurately. So much of great children’s literature is just a touch older than their experience and some of it is serious far-back history! Even reading a book from just 40 years ago can leave some children scratching their heads to understand why the character would need to be searching the city blocks for a pay phone. 🙂

Well we happened to be reading a family favorite as one of our bedtime reads – Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. My kids all love this book and they sincerely enjoy the historical elements. But I suddenly realized while I was reading that I didn’t have to explain how the lamp light was “lowered” in the oil lamps – I could show them!


Great Grandmother's oil lamp |
Great Grandmother’s oil lamp


I happen to have more than one old-fashioned oil lamps and I just forgot that I haven’t dug them out in years. Of course my older children have experienced them but my younger crew have never seen anything like it before. I immediately tucked the book next to my sleepy headed Mr K and gather the pieces. What fun it was to watch the children flock to see how the wick goes up and down and talk about how the wick doesn’t burn up but the light keeps going. Naturally, this also makes for a great safety lesson about the dangers of fire and how we would have had to take a great deal more precaution “in the old days” than we would now just for a bit of light at night.

All in all, it was an awesome living history addition to my kids great bedtime story. No, they weren’t in school. No, this wasn’t a planned lesson. And no, they didn’t have a worksheet or quiz on it. But I’m sure you can guess how much more they learned, and how much longer they will remember the helpful information they just absorbed by simply experiencing something in life.


The kids discovering the oil lamp |
The kids discovering the oil lamp


Now I’m willing to bet that if you took a breath and looked around, an experience of learning will present itself to you with simply the object you have stashed around your house. It doesn’t have to be quite like mine. Perhaps you have an old computer lying around. You can take it apart with your child and they can learn about technology development. Maybe you have an antique dresser and you can share with them how woodworking used to be done. It is possible that you live in a house with some interesting architectural design that can lead to a discussion on styles and applications of architectural elements in home versus commercial design. The possibilities are endless!

I would love to hear what awesome things you get to repurpose, reuse, and enjoy. Now all I have to do is convince my children that we do not have to eat dinner by lantern light every single night!

Peace and health,


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