As a college history major who once, as a child, dreamed of working as a costumed historic interpreter, I've taken my kids to more than the usual number of historic sites and history museums in their young lives.
I think it's important for even kids to understand where we've been so they can get a better idea of where we're headed. Also, I like looking at old stuff.
I've wanted to take both of my girls to the N.C. Museum of History's Time for Tots series since my older daughter was old enough. I finally got my wish - just a month before my younger daughter aged out - in August. The series is designed for kids ages 3 to 5 and their adults. We spent 45 minutes learning a bit about the history of pottery in North Carolina with a book, a quick discussion and working with clay just like the famous potters do.
"We have programs like this to tell one little story of all of the people of North Carolina," said Emily Grant, the museum's youth programs coordinator, as opened the morning program that included about a dozen kids, along with their adults.
Grant went on to talk about where clay comes from and how it's used. She quickly explained different kinds of items potters make with clay - from a pinch pot to a decorative item. Kids got to work making a turtle or any number of other things out of their ball of clay. And they listened to Grant read "Dave the Potter," about a noted potter who was a slave in South Carolina.
Grant said she knows that some might wonder if preschoolers can really understand the concept of history - if they can really take away something from a program like this.
"I say, 'Yes,'" she said. "They can definitely connect with the stories. It's a great way to introduce people to the museum."
Grant said she also works to connect kids from history to the stories that she tells. During the clay program, she included a picture of a boy, who would later grow up to become a famous potter.
The kids sat on the floor or on their adult's laps as Grant read the book and talked a bit about pottery. My then five-year-old came away from the program excited about showing her big sister the clay turtle she made and, later, pointing out clay at construction sites that we drove by.
Time for Tots runs on the first and second Tuesdays of each month. The program explores a new topic each month. In October, the focus is on football. Pigskins and Leatherheads is 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., Oct. 6 or Oct. 13. (Both sessions are the same). The cost is $3 plus tax per child or $1 plus tax for museum members. During the program, kids will hear about the history of football and then create a handheld football game to take home.
These programs can fill up so it's best to pre-register, which you can do through the museum's website.
The museum also offers weekday programs for kids ages 6 to 9 called History Corner and for kids 10 to 13 called History Hunters. Both happen on the first Wednesday of each month and are popular with homeschoolers and kids who are tracked out from year-round school. The museum is at 5 E. Edenton St. in downtown Raleigh.