Organizing a homeschool history fair need not be complicated. Save the date, arrange a venue, and determine a theme.
Homeschoolers do not have to miss out on anything that their public school counterparts do. They can even participate in history fairs.
Save the Date for the Homeschool History Fair
When considering setting a date for a local homeschool history fair, it is best to set it prior to the county and state history fairs in preparation for the national history fair. Homeschool groups are allowed to enter the public history fairs the same as public schools.
Usually, the national history fair is in the spring. State and local fairs are likely several weeks prior to that. Therefore, the homeschool fair should be scheduled in time for the winning entries to then enter the next fair. The 2011 Kenneth E. Behring National History Day Contest will be held June 12-16. Preliminary fairs will, of course, be held prior to June, 2011. March is a good time to schedule the initial homeschool history fair.
Location for the Homeschool History Fair
There are many available venues in which to hold a local homeschool history fair. Historical homes are a good choice. The 2010 homeschool history fair in Fort Smith, Arkansas, was held in The Clayton House. According to The Clayton House Website, “This wood frame antebellum house served for years as the family home of William Henry Harrison Clayton, the federal prosecutor in the court of celebrated frontier judge Isaac C. Parker.” The home was obtained at no charge under the Home’s program of community service. Simply contact the directors of the local historical homes in the targeted homeschool area.
Other possible venues to hold a homeschool history fair include, but are not limited to, local churches, local public or private schools during their spring break, or weather permitting, a pavilion in a local park. Many local parks have community buildings that are available for community use at little to no charge. Local museums may have a conference room that would be suitable for a homeschool history fair, as might the local public libraries.
Homeschool History Fair Themes
A homeschool history fair can have a theme or not. Individual entries can be on any topic or be required to speak to a theme set by the local homeschool group’s advisory council. However, if a homeschool student has aspirations of competing at the state and local level, their individual entry must adhere to the requirements of the National History Day Contest. The 2011 them for the National Contest is “Debate and Diplomacy.”
The homeschool history fair in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in 2010, included entries on Popsicles, Volkswagons, Abraham Lincoln (rather ironic, since Lincoln is not exactly the favorite President in the South!), and the Boston Celtics. Entries can be a display, an oral delivery, written papers, and even a media production.
Incentive for Homeschool History Fairs
Many local businesses and educational or historic sites will provide prizes free of charge. The local museum may donate historical items from their gift shop. Local banks may provide savings bonds. Local fast food outlets are really good about providing gift cards and coupons, as are local bowling alleys and skating rinks. Some small businesses may also offer a cash prize. The secret to soliciting free prizes is to ask, ask, ask, and then ask again. Don’t be shy!!
Last Minute Details for a Successful Homeschool History Fair
- Confirm judges
- Arrange for refreshments
- Confirm the venue
- Arrange for somebody to tally the judges scores as they come in to expedite the entire experience.
- Have a short award ceremony at the end of the fair to give the students recognition for their efforts
- Promote the event beginning several months in advance. Don’t forget to put up fliers, enter ads in local newspapers, and get it on the radio. This raises awareness of homeschooling in the area.
The most important part of the homeschool history fair is to let it be fun for the students. Be sure they feel appreciated and accomplished. History will then be a topic they enjoy learning about for the rest of their lives!