Several years ago we stumbled upon a great program that has enriched our home school experience. The North Carolina Tar Heel Junior Historian program based out of the North Carolina Museum of History is open to students in grades 4-12 and has some great opportunities. We started a small club of only two families (though there are much bigger clubs in other areas). There are clubs in schools, homeschools, and even clubs formed by museums and historical sites.
Each club meets monthly to study and learn about history. You can focus on a particular topic or change topics each month. We do a lot of field trips as well as service time at a local historic site, Tryon Palace. They publish a bi-annual magazine filled with interesting state history that can be included in your studies or just used as a fun read for the students.
Each year the organization holds a convention and contests. My 10 year old daughter says that her favorite part is the workshops at the convention. The contest entries are turned in prior to the convention and they present awards to the winners on the afternoon of the convention. They have different contest divisions covering essay, exhibit, photography and more. My son loves the art/exhibit contest best. The first year his Lego model of Tryon Palace actually won first place for his age group and was displayed in the museum for the year. This year he completed a model of two of the helicopters from the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association. He didn’t win but he had a good time and learned a lot during the project.
During the convention students have the opportunity to attend several workshops on various history topics. This year their two favorite ones were a sword fighting demonstration and a presentation on recycled crafts. My daughter also enjoyed a presentation about Native American ceremonial dancing clothes.
This club has encouraged my children to write and create (it is so much easier for them to write a paper for a contest) and study various components of our state history. My son in particular does not enjoy writing and will often try to avoid writing. These contests have given him added incentive to write and helped me to strengthen his writing. They have also had the opportunity to meet children in clubs from all across our state.
I need to be a proud mama and club advisor for a minute and tell you the results from this year’s contests. Three of the kids from our club entered a group project into the video documentary contest and won first place! You can check out their video about the North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots here. We also had a 2nd place in the magazine article competition, and recognition in the artifact search. Finally, we received and award for Rookie Club of the Year! The children put a lot of time and effort into all of their projects and I was really proud of them.
I encourage you to look into this program if you live in North Carolina. There are many clubs across the state. If you are an out of state reader check to see if your state has a similar program. It is a great way to expand your history studies and meet some great people.
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