We live, work and raise our families in a world-class city, but
how much do we know about the fascinating history that surrounds
our beloved Chicago? Set off with your family on your very own
Chicago historical adventure.
Start at the Chicago History Museum. The Sensing Chicago
exhibit lets kids touch, hear, smell and see some of the most
wonderful aspects of the Windy City. Ride a high-wheel bicycle down
a wood-paved street, catch a fly ball at Comiskey Park, use your
nose to navigate the Chicago Smell Map, create an oversized
postcard of your favorite sights to post on the gallery wall, and,
perhaps best of all, be a Chicago-style hot dog.
Interactive stations allow families to create and test
Chicago-style bridges, use maps to trace the path of the Great
Chicago Fire, play with a hands-on model of the John Hancock
Building and envision a day at the World Columbian Exposition of
1893 through souvenirs and photographs.
Be a tourist for a day and book an architectural river cruise
with the Chicago Architecture Foundation. Breeze down
the river and learn more about the original and beautiful buildings
and skyscrapers that dot our famous skyline. Every third Sunday of
the month, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m., the foundation offers free CA
Family Studio Sundays that feature hands-on activities, walking
tours, stories and more, all geared toward families with children
The official Web site of the city of Chicago offers a wide array
of self-guided tours that you can download before you set off on your own (and at your own pace-potty
breaks, anyone?). Of special interest to families: African-American
History Tour, Railroads and Bridges, and the Loop Tour (best seen
by elevated train, a tour that even toddlers will find
Families with older children and teens will delight in a spooky
History Tour. Join internationally renowned ghost hunter
Richard Crowe on a comfy bus ride around the city to uncover
stories of hauntings, ghosts and other supernatural phenomena.
Celebrate one of Chicago's champion of human rights and the
first women to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize at the immigrant
settlement house she founded, Jane Addam's Hull House Museum.
Located on the UIC campus, the small museum introduces visitors to
the life of a woman who worked very hard to promote public
education and social services for all of Chicago's children,
regardless of family income or immigrant status. Younger kids will
benefit from exploring the museum with the Scavenger Hunt and its
small prize at the end. Families with older children will learn
more about the upheavals of Chicago women in history by continuing
on a self-guided tour of historical sites: print out an area map
and download the free online guide.
Round out the local history lessons with resources you can
investigate at home. The Chicago History Museum offers an excellent
series of online resources designed for children age 6-12, entitled
My Chicago. Developed by the Chicago Historical Society and made
possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities,
My Chicago uses the symbols and design of the Chicago flag to
explore city history.
Chicago History for Kids: Triumphs and Tragedies of
the Windy City by Owen Herd, available at your local
library, serves as a quality reference to the dramatic history of
our city, starting with the Ice Age, and features 21 project ideas.
The littlest members of your family will appreciate winding down a
busy day of touring with Goodnight Chicago by Adam Gamble, a
charming board book that wishes sweet dreams to the sights and
sounds of our amazing city.
Amy Bizzarri is a mom of two living in Logan Square. She also blogs at tiramisumom.com.
See more of Amy's stories here.
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