If you want your kids to love history, throw away the text books and get out there where history was made. The fabulous thing about studying Texas History is that you are right in the middle of where it happened (as long as you live in Texas). If you are studying Texas history because your own state’s history is so woefully uneventful, then plan a trip to Texas. It’s the best vacation spot in the nation (some bias acknowledged).
So Texas History On Location is the best way to introduce your kids to the exciting and inspiring history of the state and to have a good time with the family or with other history-loving families. There is a wealth of Texas History resources, museums, living history exhibits, festivals, and old ruins to excite the imagination of most kids and adults who love a good story.
You will need some classroom time or pre-reading before you go so your kids will know what they are seeing and will understand the events that occurred there. I will recommend some books I have used and some websites that provide some good resources. But the highlight of the year will be the visits you make to missions, historic homes, battlefields, reenactments, and living history museums. I provide a schedule so you can visit the right sites for the time in history you are studying. And I will give you some suggestions of other sites that are worth your time if you have it.
Now Texas is a big place and depending on where you live, you may find some sites hard to reach. I try to recommend sites all over the state that might serve for some of the study sections, but the Battle of the Alamo only happened in one place and if you want to see it, you have to go to San Antonio ( “get to go to San Antonio” is a better way to put it).
The idea is to visit the sites that correspond to the time of history you are studying but this isn’t always possible. One reason is that you probably don’t want to make multiple trips to the same place just because two things from different study sections happened there (except San Antonio; you always want an excuse to visit there). Another reason is that the festivals that offer some great opportunities for learning occur when they are scheduled not when you would like to go. So be flexible and we will have a great time.
I will also offer one more note: The recommended sites are going to be heavy on the Texian Colonists and Texas Revolution period. Many of the other states can outshine us on Native American artifact collections, Spanish missions, and Civil War battle sites, but only Texas has the Texas Revolution, the Alamo, and San Jacinto. And the characters of that era are well worth studying: Stephen F. Austin, Sam Houston, Juan Sequin, William Barret Travis and a host of others. This era was the beginning of that much envied Texas Mystique. If you aren’t a fan of history or of Texas, I encourage you to give learning about the history of this great state on location a try and see if you don’t find yourself thanking your lucky stars you live in Texas.
A General Outline of Texas History on Location
Section 1: Texas History Overview
Section 2: Early Arrivals: The Indians
Section 3: Spanish and French Exploration (1528-1821)
Section 4: Mexican Rule (1821-1836)
Section 5: Texas Revolution (1836)
Section 6: Republic of Texas (1836-1845)
Section 7: Statehood and the Civil War (1845-1865)
Section 8: The Struggle for the Land: Cowboys, Indians, and the Cavalry (1865-1901)
Section 9: Modern Times: Oil, State Government, and More (1901 to present)