My kids love mysteries. Recently, we’ve been exploring some great US History Mysteries through books and research. It’s a great way to learn more about history and geography while practicing some logic and reasoning skills. Our most recent US History Mystery was about The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 that burned from October 8th to the 10th destroying thousands of buildings, killing an estimated 300 people and causing millions in damages. Reasons for the fire are still debated today, but legend has it that a cow in the O’Leary family’s barn kicked over a lantern and started the fire. The O’Leary’s denied this charge and the true cause of the fire has never been determined. Other theories allude that someone trying to steal milk or a group of men playing a card game were trespassing on the property that night and caused the fire. Scientists have even theorized about a possible meteor causing the event due to evidence in the area! What is known is that, dry weather conditions, lots of wooden city buildings and a polluted river all seemed to leave Chicago vulnerable to the fire. The fire quickly grew out of control and devastated an area of the city about four miles long and almost a mile wide.
Fortunately, some positive change came from an unfortunate event. The aftermath lead to better building and fire codes, rebuilding the city and spurring great economic development and population growth. It’s a great topic to explore in US History, architecture, city development and living conditions, along with using logic and reasoning skills to discern information.
After our research, Ava (11) and Lily (9), decided to create a fire art scene of what the city may have looked like that night long ago. They used paper, pastels and acrylic paints to create the blazing background and then drew in the city skyline over the paint with black charcoal pencil.
The Virginia Mystery Series
If you’re looking for a great History’s Mysteries series for kids ages 6-12, The Virginia Mystery Series by Steven K. Smith is an exciting read aloud History and Adventure series that my family has enjoyed. The stories are modern-day fictional mysteries with some twists to real locations and events from Virginia history. We’ve had a lot of fun reading these books and exploring some of the events and historical figures a little deeper.
Here’s to sparking a love of reading, an interest in US history and challenging kids logic and reasoning skills – Enjoy the Adventure!