SIX WAYS TO BRING ATLANTA’S PAST TO LIFE FOR YOUR KIDS
Whether you’ve lived in Atlanta your entire life or are a recent transplant, teaching children the history of our community is important to a prosperous future. Most kids, however, will tell you they don’t like history, primarily because they hate memorizing names, dates and other dry, boring facts. But history doesn’t have to be a snooze. The Atlanta History Center in Buckhead has numerous programs geared toward kids, as well as exhibits that can spark a love of yesteryear. Here are six ways to bring the past to life for your little ones—and you!
1. Get hands on.
Each month, the center hosts Magic Monday, a program geared toward toddlers and preschoolers. The event follows a specific theme and includes guided exploration, arts and crafts, and story time. Be sure to save time for a post-program visit to the on-site Smith Family Farm, where kids can pet sheep and see a blacksmith shop up close.
2. Study themes, not dates.
The Civil War was fought right here in Buckhead, and although youngsters may not be interested in the dates on the plaques around town, Buckhead resident Beverly DuBose’s notable collection of memorabilia on view at the center will likely pique the interest of older kids. One of the largest Civil War exhibits in the country, “Turning Point: The American Civil War” follows the battle from start to finish and describes in movies, narratives and artifacts what it was like to be a soldier, as well as to live on the home front. Even if children don’t read any of the accompanying text, they’ll still come away with an understanding of the toll the conflict took on the community.
3. Taste the past.
Food is a huge part of life and history. In “Gatheround: Stories of Atlanta,” kids can sit in a diner booth and pick from a menu of stories about Atlanta as told through a tabletop jukebox. Afterwards, visit a real diner for a juicy cheeseburger and malted milkshake. There are two in the neighborhood: Buckhead Diner and Landmark Diner.
4. Play a game.
Kids may be surprised to learn that the iPad wasn’t always the go-to way to pass the time. The game of graces was a popular activity for young girls in the early 1800s. Civil War soldiers played cards or dominoes to fend off boredom while in camp. You’ll find these and other historical games in the gift shop, and the property boasts plenty of green space and gardens to play them in.
5. Read a story.
The gift shop is also a great place to find kid-friendly books, such as Secret Stories from Peachtree Creek, by Marcia Mayo, a former local elementary school teacher. In it, Mayo writes about Frances, a girl who lives along Peachtree Creek in Buckhead. After her backyard floods, Frances finds an old box that connects her to the children who lived along the same stretch of land before her. It’s a novel way of making area history relatable for children. Little ones can also hear stories firsthand from the costumed interpreters who bring local residents back to life on the weekends.
6. Enjoy some screen time.
Not all history has to be in the distant past. Buckhead’s recent history includes being a favorite shooting location for numerous TV shows and movies. Kids will recognize the Swan House, a stately 1920s-era mansion on the center’s grounds, as the home of President Snow in The Hunger Games.
ATLANTA HISTORY CENTER
130 West Paces Ferry Road N.W.
STORY: Sue Rodman