By: Chrissy Jones
Two of the world’s greatest museums are right here in Chicago, The Art Institute of Chicago and The Field Museum, but after paying the admission fee to this world class museums, there is nothing that upsets me more than hearing “can we go now?” Using the cool new app, History Hero, your family’s visit to some of the greatest cultural institutions becomes a real life interactive scavenger hunt for the kids, and a fun day for you too.
History is really cool, and it’s important that our kids think it’s interesting, and these world class museums are where we should teach our children to soak it up and learn. Sadly, I think the traditional methods of appealing to children like the audio tours and the paper scavenger hunts that are typically available in museums fail to engage our kids in this digital age.
Well, It seems that one clever company agrees wholeheartedly. I recently took my 12 and 7 year old boys to test it out at both The Art Institute and The Field museums (the only two Chicago museums that currently synch with it) and tried out History Heroes. The kids absolutely loved it!
Here’s the rundown: History Hero is produced by Mind Gamez and takes a gaming approach to teaching children about history during their visits to the world’s most important museums and historical sights. By downloading the History Hero app (available for both the iPhone and the android), my boys and I became part of an interactive mission whose goal it is to stop the evil “Erasers” who are targeting Chicago’s churches, museums, and other historical sites and trying to erase our history. There are 3 different level missions depending on the age of your group. Ages 4-7 (with adult), 8-12 and teen/adult. We chose to follow the mission for 8-12.
You start the game by choosing your Hero from nine choices of avatar. After some “oath” taking (clever code for no running, no touching any object), you embark on your mission. The missions are extremely thoughtful, and the number of tasks depends on which level you chose.The app subtly forces a rather in-depth exploration of whatever museum you are synched to. A typical quest may include finding the mighty Samson battling a beast to the death.
The app gives additional clues as the child searches getting warmer and warmer (and more eager and interested in the tale of the artifact.) The app asks probing multiple choice questions about the piece of art that need to be answered, ensuring that the kids are truly engaged and understand the significance of each piece, such as, “What beast is Samson fighting, what material was the statue sculpted out of?” When the task is completed, points are awarded; your child documents the find with a photo to stop the bad guys, and magically sinks that much deeper into (in this case) mythological history with a self-satisfied smile.
If you are used to spending only an hour at the museum, you’ll likely have to be a bit more flexible, as the kids are unlikely to leave before the game is completed, which took us approximately 90 minutes at both museums.
The History Hero app is a free download with each museum specific mission being $4.99. Given the typical museum entrance fees, and the high level of excitement this added to our trip, it is money well spent. We all had a renewed appreciation for these great museums.
Try it out by searching for History Heroes in the app store, and good luck on your adventure!
Chrissy Jones is a guest blogger for Chicago Like A Local and is a local Chicago mom blogger. She blogs about the coolest activities, restaurants and products for Chicago families. She lives with her husband and three kids in downtown Chicago. http://beyondthepark.com/