Whenever I do a history program for kids, someone inevitably asks me if whoever I’m talking about is still alive. “No,” I smile, “Abraham Lincoln died over 100 years ago.” Or Harriet Tubman, or whoever we’re talking about.I want the kids to feel the immediacy of the past — so when we begin a class, I often ask if they keep a diary. I remind them that what they are doing is recording history. I use tools like diaries to find out about the past now, and in the future maybe someone will read their diaries to get info on life in the early 21st century.This seminar, the kids and I are examining the American Civil War: Battles, Leaders and Heroes. Our last session we looked at some of the causes of the war, Ft. Sumter, Abraham Lincoln and Harriet Tubman. One kid was just thrilled because he’d been to Charleston, right where we were talking about. When we started the discussion of Lincoln — one little guy grimaced and said, “I don’t like that dude.” I asked him why? Evidently, Lincoln caused the ENTIRE war because he hated the South?! We talked about that a little, the idea of the Union as Lincoln’s responsibility — I don’t know if I changed any minds. For fun, we looked at some of the animal mascots — like “Old Abe” and Sallie.This week we’re going to look at Fredricksburg, Stonewall Jackson, and Richard Kirkland. I’m going to let them try hardtack and they’ll do a little drilling. We laugh a lot in class as each child figures out how to interpret the lessons in their own way.My goal is for kids to have fun when they learn history, to laugh and remember it as they study it in school — so that they never have the “I hate history” stage.Music for laughing and learning –> John Lennon, Los Lobos, Little Feat, and Liszt.Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. –> Abraham LincolnTake care,Aly

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