I’ve been preaching the idea of history as mystery, of engaging questions for kids, of problem-based learning for a while now. Which makes it a bit weird that I haven’t heard of the PBS History Detectives series before now.
I guess I need to move out of the ESPN football channel range a bit more down to where PBS lives. (But in my defense, the KC Chiefs are leading their division so . . . )
But I am falling in love with the TV show and their very extensive website.
The show is devoted to exploring the complexities of historical mysteries, searching out the facts, myths and conundrums that connect local folklore, family legends and interesting objects.
Traditional investigative techniques, modern technologies, and plenty of legwork are the tools the History Detectives team of experts uses to give new – and sometimes shocking – insights into our national history.
Each hour-long episode of History Detectives features three investigations that delve into family legends, local folklore and stories behind potentially extraordinary objects in everyday American homes, cities and small towns. Follow the twists and turns of each investigation and find out more about the historical events that shaped America.
The viewer is included in each aspect of the detectives’ decision-making process, with explanations and rationales for each evaluative method. The viewers themselves get the chance to become armchair experts as the detectives describe in detail the purpose and method for each test.
Explore all the video, including full episodes and web exclusives, behind the scenes videos and tutorials on how to conduct your own investigations such as dating a house or spotting a fake artifact. So you don’t have record or DVR stuff to share with your kids.
If you need more help with your own investigations, visit Detective Techniques, with guides on how to research a WWII military record and more information on art and photo evaluation. You can also find a step-by-step guide to genealogy, researching buildings, document evaluation and much more.
The site also provides resources for use in the classroom. For Educators includes lesson plans and other tools to reinforce concepts from the programs, and develop student interest in the study of history and other core subjects.
History Detectives is a great way to engage kids in content at the same time as creating great questions for them to solve.