Nebraska’s birthday is coming up on March 1, which is a great opportunity to incorporate Nebraska-related activities in your home or classroom. In honor of our state’s 156th birthday, here are some educational (and fun!) ideas to connect children’s learning to Nebraska’s history and present.
One approach to activities is exploring the history of Native American tribes in your area. Today, six tribes (Omaha, Winnebago, Ponca, Iowa, Santee Sioux, Sac and Fox) have reservations in Nebraska. You can use this website to input your address and find Indigenous territories that overlap with it. Once you’ve found that information, you can do further research about the way that tribe lived, how they grew food and about their current culture if the tribe is still in your area. To help present positive and accurate information, this blog post is a good starting point for the do’s and don’ts for teaching about Native Americans in preschool and kindergarten, including how to approach craft projects, how to select appropriate books and how to curb stereotypes that children may encounter.
You can also explore Nebraska through locally produced foods. Harvest of the Month is a statewide farm to school program that features a different Nebraska local product each month of the school year. The program promotes local fruits and vegetables, and it provides schools with resources to support sampling and serving local foods to students. If you’re interested in getting even more involved with local foods, the Nebraska Department of Education now hosts a comprehensive webpage for Farm to Preschool, providing guidance for providers and families on purchasing local and in-season foods, ideas for educational activities and use of gardens, tools for how to get started, and fact sheets and reports on Farm to Preschool research specific to Nebraska.
Interested in taking a more geological approach? For younger children, creating sensory bins with different Nebraska soils or rocks can be a fun and easy activity. For children who are a little older, you could create an aquifer bin to show what’s happening beneath our feet in 84% of the state.
Guest speakers are always a great option, too, like a farmer who can talk about local livestock or crops, a meteorologist who can explain local weather patterns, a horticulturist who can discuss local flora and fauna, a historian who can dive into your area’s history, or a member of a local tribe who can share their culture. If you have the capacity to take a field trip, there are more than 40 museums or historical attractions across Nebraska, from The Durham Museum in Omaha, to The Archway in Kearney, to the Capitol building in Lincoln, to the Museum of Fur Trade in Chadron.
This is just a starting point for the many ways you can celebrate Nebraska’s history and present. We’re excited to see what you’ll try out, so be sure to tag Step Up to Quality on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter.
If you’re a child care provider who’s looking for even more ways to elevate the quality of your care, we’re here for you. Step Up to Quality has helped more than 650 Nebraska child care and early childhood education programs with supports and resources that improve quality. Learn more about getting started.