Washington State History for Kids

November 13, 2010 in Seattle for Kids

University of Washington, Seen from the Floating Bridge

One of the nicest ways I get to interact with my fourth grader is helping out in his classroom, where I get an intimate knowledge of the details of their school life and times, and get to know his teacher and the other parents.  Community is so vital and creates such a depth and strength of experience.  My son’s teacher asked me to create a web quest for their current foray into Washington State History… and you know what popped into my mind of course.  Your kids might like to know something about the history of this lovely state too!  Here is a gathering of websites and resources you can use with your kids to explore what Washington State and Seattle was, is, and perhaps… will be!  With their help.

The Washington State Dept of Early Learning does a great Just for Kids site, which includes “fun facts” about the state… for example, what’s the Washington State flower?  Bird?  Tree?  Dance? Fish? Fruit?  If you’re not sure, you might want to check this one out yourself :-)

What about an Online Tourof the Washington State Capitol?  You can see the  Campus Grounds, winged victory monument, war memorials seeped in history, the North Steps, the 42 steps symbolizing that Washington was the 42nd State, the doors of the legislative building which are six doors cast in bronze with images of the early industry and scenic beauty of the state, and much more.    Made by students for students, the site is the creation of the 7th and 8th graders of Washington Middle School which is in Olympia.  Great stuff!

On the Washington State Historical Society there are many stories and explorations sorted by grade level groups.  One is the Journey of Lewis and Clark which includes pictures, maps of the Columbia River country and stories of the progression of their exploratory journey and the tribes and native traditions and help they encountered, the geography and the life and times.  As some of the foremost explorers in American History, this is a vital and lively place for many of our kids to start imagining our history as live and vibrant.  The materials here are great and include a very cool Sign Language Primer in the Online Activities section, and excerpts from the Lewis and Clark Journals which include these Descriptions of Chiefs they encountered (with teaching notes).

Another great resource from the Historical Society is Columbia Kids, an online magazine that presents bits and pieces of the state history as fun facts and activities.  It doesn’t take long as you start to dip below the surface of the stories and events of the days gone by before you get totally fascinated by the adventurous and amusing people that make up the history of our state!  Think of 20 year old Fay Fuller, who tried to climb Mt. Rainier in 1890!  The Winter 2010 issue is current but there is a link to past issues too, so enjoy and explore.

Somewhere between 40 and 17 million years ago the Cascade Mountains were formed.  From 17 to 6 million years ago, lava flooded the Columbia Basin and distroyed the waterway of the Columbia river.  What next?  Well, between 10 and 6 million years ago (not really next I guess) was Washington’s ice age, in which huge glaciers covered the mountains as well as Puget Sound! For a timeline of these and more recent events here is an interesting website, great for high schoolers on their own but perfectly useful when you sit down with younger children and a very long sheet of paper and start making the eons down along a timeline you draw yourself, along with appropriate colored pencil drawings of the long-ago events… this website also has state symbols, elected officials, forests, and more.

Don’t stop till you’ve visited the site provided by History Link.  It’s called the “Free Online Encyclopedia of WA State History and gives a fun format and a very readable gathering of history, both tidbits and in depth!  On the current splah pageyou will learn that the Denny Party landed in what’s now West Seattle, on Alki Point, on Nov. 13, 1851… really the start of what was to become Seattle in just a few years.  Or can you guess when the first bicycle arrived in Seattle?  Well, Nov. 14, 1879 to be exact.  That was certainly the start of a very popular trend, as the Northwest is now one of the country’s most active cycling locations, both for sportsmen and in that so many of the inhabitants are active cyclists.

For now I expect this will start as just a group of websites with little hints as to what you’ll find there, but as time goes on I can sort it out by age and give a better idea of which sites might appeal to different interests.  And of course if we get the Web Quest up and running later in the winter, I’ll be sure to share that too.

Let me know which ones you like or if you know any I’ve missed!!