For parents who want to help even young children develop an interest in history, National Archives education specialist Mary Alexander suggests starting with the book, My Back Yard History Book by David Weitzman (Little Brown, $3.95), "filled with simple, home-grown research projects."
Weitzman defines history as "a celebration of time passing." Among his ideas for kids:
* Draw your own personal time line. Allow enough space for each year and mark your birth date, the first thing you remember, when your first tooth fell out, when you began school and other highlights.
* Build a birthday time capsule. Fill a shoe box or carton with items -- letters, magazines, snapshots, movie listings -- that would be interesting when you open the capsule on your next birthday, or one years later.
* Create a family map. Mark where your family, parents, grandparents, even great-grandparents have lived, to create a "geography of the generations."
* Collect "people history" when you visit grandparents. If you're shy about asking questions, take along some old photographs of them and your parents. Pass out the pictures, turn on the tape recorder and you'll be recording family history.
* Visit an old cemetery. ("No," says Weitzman, "it's not scary.") See what the inscriptions on the gravestones tell you about the nationalities, occupations and lives of the people buried there.
* Find "back yard historians" in your neighborhood. They may remember when the first skyscraper was built, or what was once on your school site, or how it was to ride a horse to school.