NYC History Made Fun

by Amy Kraft on June 21, 2013


School is finally winding down. Three more days until summer vacation! Olive’s 2nd grade class has been studying NYC history as a big part of their 2nd grade curriculum. They’ve had field trips to iconic institutions like Carnegie Hall, Grand Central Station, the art museums, Central Park, and I tagged along when they went to the NYC diorama at the Queens Museum of Art. Most recently they walked over the Brooklyn Bridge as a class.


When I received a copy of New York City History for Kids: From New Amsterdam to the Big Apple, I knew it was tailor-made for their class. The timeline begins in 1524 when Giovanni da Verrazano (hey, there’s a bridge called the Verrazano!) became the first European to visit New York harbor and stretches to the recent present when the still under construction Freedom Tower became the tallest building in NYC. New York City is my adopted home, and I certainly never studied it other than as a a piece of colonial history. Well, I did watch Gangs of New York. I certainly couldn’t tell you about Peter Stuyvesant’s wooden leg. Or that Broadway’s Booth Theater was names after John Wilkes Booth’s brother, also an actor. I studied Chicago’s great fire, but didn’t know that New York had one of its own in 1835. Did you know that the pirate Captain William Kidd began as respectable city citizen before he was sent out as a pirate chaser, only to become a pirate himself. This stuff is fascinating.

In addition to the dive into the city’s history, there’s also slew of activities, including:

  • Make your own NYC bagel (I love that the word History has a bagel for its O on the cover)
  • Make “Samp” porridge like the settlers ate
  • Build a replica of Fort George
  • Using clay and water, replicate your own landfill-based Battery Park City
  • Draw a political cartoon
  • Take a walking tour of City Hall Park
  • Create your own walking tour of your neighborhood (my favorite)

For New Yorkers looking for something to do with the kids this summer, or anyone that’s planning on coming for a visit, this is a handy reference to have.

Thanks to Kari Steeves for the class picture on the Brooklyn Bridge. I received a review copy of this book. 

Mary Kraft June 22, 2013 at 7:06 am

I want to do this!

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: