There are many interesting and enlightening projects to do with kids of all ages to help them understand more about the people who have come before them, changing times, how the government works, and ways to be an involved citizen. Here are some suggestions and resources.
U.S. Census https://www.census.gov
The U.S. Constitution mandates taking a count, or census, of the population every 10 years. 2020 is one of those years and the process is underway. Census statistics are used to determine the number of seats each state holds in the U.S. House of Representatives and informs legislative district boundaries. They also help determine how hundreds of billions of dollars in public funds are allocated by state, local and federal lawmakers to communities for public services and infrastructure like hospitals, emergency services, schools and bridges each year over the next 10 years. Complete the U.S. Census online with your kids and talk about the impact. This year’s form has only nine questions. It’s fun to go back and compare today’s questions with those asked in different decades and explore why the form is different each time.
Michigan House of Representatives https://www.house.mi.gov
Through the Michigan House of Representatives website, students can look up who their Representative is and learn more about him or her and their stance on issues. Through the Citizen’s Guide section, they can also take a virtual tour of the Capitol Building and nearby memorials, read the Michigan Constitution, find out about the petition process for Initiatives, Referendums and Constitutional Amendments, as well as reviewing House rules, different committees, and how a bill becomes a law.
State Senate of Michigan
The Michigan Senate consists of 38 members who are elected by the qualified electors of districts having approximately 212,400 to 263,500 residents. Senators are elected at the same time as the governor and serve 4-year terms concurrent with the governor’s term of office. Through its site, students can virtually explore the Senate Chamber and surrounding areas. They can also determine who their Senator is, find out about current and pending legislation.
State of Michigan Kids Site https://www.michigan.gov/kids
There is also a dedicated kids page on the state’s official website that includes fun facts as well as games and activities related to the government, history, reading, the environment, food, outdoor activities and more.
Buy Michigan Now (BMN) History Page https://buymichigannow.com/michigan/history
BMN has a page dedicated to Michigan History. It features articles on the state’s economic past as well as a monthly series from Erica Emelander on key people and moments from the Michigan of yesteryear. Read the articles along with your kids and discuss the impact, how things have changed, or challenge them to find additional information. The page also has an On This Day calendar that highlights a key moment in the state’s history for each date.
Michigan History Center (MHC) https://www.michigan.gov/mhc
MHC’s online collection includes Archives of Michigan research guides and indexes, as well as access to more than three million state and local government records and private manuscripts, maps and photographs. Many downtowns, city websites, and local historical centers also have websites that feature information about the history of your own community. Help your kids discover when the area was settled and by whom. What were the first jobs? Who is that street or building in your town named after, and what did that person do to earn the honor? What was it like when their grandparents or great grandparents were living here?
Family Search https://www.familysearch.org
This time indoors presents an excellent opportunity to share family stories, photos, and memories and/or learn more about your family’s history together. Family Search is one of the best online sites that is available to search for free. Go through photo albums and scrapbooks together, make a family tree, search for information you don’t know, make a video of your family’s story, and get some of those loose photos labeled, digitized, and preserved for future generations.
Detroit Historical Society https://detroithistorical.org
As the first capitol, largest population, and economic center of the state, there are reasons that any Michigander may have for learning more about the history of Detroit. The Detroit Historical Society is offering a variety of online resources including landmarks and images. New content is being released regularly throughout this period, and there is even a database of lesson plans to help you bring historical content to life.