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Rub Against History


Younger children find rubbings great fun. Cornerstones and plaques are interesting, and even coins will do.

What you'll need:
Tracing paper or other light weight paper
Large crayons with the paper removed, fat lead pencil, colored pencils, or artist's charcoal
History log

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What to do:

  1. Help your child make a kit to do rubbings. It could include the items listed. The paper should not tear easily but it should also be light enough so that the details of what is traced become visible.

  2. Have children make a rubbing of a quarter or half dollar. Make the coin stable by supporting it with tape. Double the tape so that it sticks on both sides and place it on the bottom of the coin. Lay the paper on top of the coin, and rub across it with a pencil, crayon, or charcoal. Don't rub too hard. Rub until the coin's marks show up.

  3. Go outside to do a rubbing. Look for
      • Dates imprinted in cement sidewalks
      • Cornerstones and plaques on buildings
      • Decorative ironwork on buildings and lampposts
      • Art and lettering on monuments / doorways

  4. Your child can ask family members to guess what each rubbing is.

  5. Have the children tell about each rubbing. Tell them to look for designs and dates among the rubbings.

  6. Children may want to cut some of their rubbings out to include in their history logs. Or they can fit several on one piece of paper to show a pattern of dates and designs.

Questions to ask:
What showed up in your rubbings? What did the date and designs commemorate? Historical preservation groups in America have worked to preserve old buildings and to install plaques on public historical places. Is this interesting or important work? Why have humans left their marks on the world from early cave drawings to today's Vietnam Veterans' Memorial?







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