Have Fun with History

Website review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
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Watch American history on film, plus a few interactives.

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The parents' guide to what's in this website.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about historical periods ranging from Colonial America to the 1980s. Sections focus on the Great Depression and other eras; presidents, including Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy; and notable figures like Martin Luther King, Jr. The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, World War I, and World War II are covered; info is also divided into subject areas like money and finance, Washington, D.C., or aviation. The well-organized site's visual take on events should spark kids' interest; its admirable coverage may not replace a textbook, but the site can serve as a fun supplement to what kids are learning in class.

Positive Messages

The site conveys a sense of excitement about historical events and some films that represent them.


A few items include links to the National Museum of Crime and Punishment, which has content on executions, murder weapons, and famous crimes. 


Users don't have to buy anything to use the site, but interior-page Google ad links can be distracting; an online store sells books, and additional links lead to sites that sell games and teaching materials. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Have Fun with History is a great place to visit for both fact-based and fictional film versions of historical events. Kids don't have to register to use the video-centric site, and they can't contact each other through it. Ads for books, teaching materials, and other items are displayed fairly prominently, but you won't find much information on who created the site. However, many of its sales plugs lead to sites with educational games and teaching materials, so Have Fun with History's material is generally safe for kids. It makes an excellent supplement, bringing to life the sometimes boring but very important highlights of history.

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What's it about?

HAVE FUN WITH HISTORY's coverage centers on dozens of movies culled from U.S. public-domain sources. Most are housed on the site, but some videos and activities are on websites from organizations like PBS. Hollywood has a tendency to get creative with historical facts; the site reminds users that even well-intentioned filmmakers don't always get everything right, but dramas, documentaries, and other programs still can provide insight. Many films are a half hour or longer; kids also can view one- to two-minute videos for a quick history hit.

Is it any good?

Have Fun With History features dozens of free videos, presentations, vintage filmstrips, newsreels, and other visual resources that can be used to illustrate key historical moments. The site provides a decent overview of time periods ranging from early America through the 1980s. Although some, like the fictional drama "Drums in the Deep South," are dramatic interpretations, many films come from government agencies or other factually sound sources and provide a realistic look at historical events. Kids may struggle with some of the longer videos, but the shorter selections, particularly the History in a Minute clips, can help them more thoroughly understand topics ranging from the Revolutionary War to the invention of the telephone.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about verified vs. unverified information. How can you tell if information is factual or not?
  • How many sources do you think are needed to ensure that something's true, history-wise? If it depends, on what does it depend?
  • Discuss time lines and how some of the events featured on the site influenced each other. Can your child identify any chain reactions during past eras, starting with an event that caused later occurrences?

Website details

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