Show & Tell: Chicago History Museum

I know that we haven’t gotten to the weeks on historical web games yet, but I was googling around just to see what kind of games might exist on the topic of my beloved hometown and I found a series of very simple games for kids presented by the Chicago Historical Society (now the Chicago History Museum). Using flash, these games create basic platforms for engaging children with familiar aspects of Chicago history and culture (the fire, the flag, the skyline, the World’s Fair, etc.). None of the “About Us” information provides a hard date for when it was created and the targeted age range of 6 to 12 years seems a little high given the simplicity of the games and the sophistication of digital natives today, but it does seem like a cute attempt to expose kids to history and artifacts related to the Swamp City. Then again, I played around with the games for longer than I care to admit. You’ll also see the familiar guidepost beckoning to teachers in the upper right hand corner that we have discussed so often in class.

Tangentially, it has been interesting to watch this organization evolve over the years. When I was in high school, annual participation in the History Fair was mandatory and local topics were king, so I spent many afternoons filling out resource request slips (how analog!), sheepishly pushing my school ID over the high counter to the authoritarian reference librarian (eerily similar, at least in my imagination, to how Santa looked in A Christmas Story), and being terrified to sneeze too loudly in their formal archive reading rooms. It seems they’ve finally turned a corner toward public history initiatives. With their new name and novel focus on more numerous curated exhibits, a film series, and even an on-site cafe, they present a much more welcoming face to general audiences interested in Chicago history.

One Reply to “Show & Tell: Chicago History Museum”

  1. This is actually a really cool/cute site and a great approach to very local history. I remember in elementary school we learned about the counties in New Jersey and how to read a map, but I feel in general (from my experience at least) local city/town history is relatively lost in the fold of history classes. This site is both educational and interactive, but also is supplemental to other lessons in history.

    In a way, the games interact with the basic terms you might learn in a classroom and gives depth to historical events. I especially liked the matching game with the artifacts from the Great Chicago Fire. By using surviving artifacts the kids can relate to or identify, it brings a personal feeling to the event you learn the basics about. (Not sure if kids in Chicago learn more about the fire than students in other areas do). Other games, like the symbols on the flag game, are also a great way to teach kids more than just how to identify the flag, but what the city holds as important to its history.

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