Narrative history is a great way to introduce elementary-age students to the distant events and not-so-familiar people of the ancient world. In this article, Lindsey Sodano, content editor of History Quest: Early Times and co-author of the companion History Quest: Early Times Study Guide, offers five ways to make the most of your read-aloud experience.
One of the best perks of homeschooling is the ability to do it in your pajamas, sipping a mug of coffee (or two), curled up with your student while enjoying a good book together. If you’re a homeschooler planning to hop into history using History Quest, a narrative history series from Pandia Press, and you’re also using the companion Study Guide, you’re going to need a snuggle chair. But first, do a quick read.
Do A Quick Read of History Quest: Early Times
Several years ago, I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire aloud to my young, fairly sensitive son without eyeballing it beforehand. No spoilers here, but if you’ve read the book, you’ll know there are some really devastating events near the end. Everything was going along fine in the Triwizard Tournament, and then all of a sudden, the contest took a tragic turn and I was editing, toning down, and omitting things on the fly! I can assure you that you won’t encounter anything as shocking as the end of Goblet of Fire in your History Quest studies this year, but I still recommend giving each chapter a quick once-over to be aware of anything that might upset your child. Reading ahead can also help you prepare to answer any questions that might pop up.
Find Your Cozy Place
Like I said before, the very nature of homeschooling gives you the chance to turn reading time into a warm and cozy experience that you and your child can look forward to each day.
Your child doesn’t have to be sitting at a desk in order to be learning. Try out a few different reading spots in your house, or maybe even on a porch swing or under a tree. Give some thought to your choice of time of day as well. You might want to ease into your homeschool day by starting off with a read-aloud in pajamas. Or maybe you and your child would enjoy History Quest as a way to kick off the afternoon. You might even decide to break the chapter up into two or more sittings if that suits your child’s attention span.
History Quest Study Guides also include four “Hygge History” units. Based on the Danish concept of hygge, which loosely translates to “a cozy sense of togetherness,” these units are 100% devoted to read-aloud time for you and your child. You’ll read The Epic of Gilgamesh, the Iliad, the Ramayana, and a series of Chinese folktales as part of the History Quest: Early Times Study Guide Hygge History units. In the History Quest: Middle Times Study Guide, you’ll read about King Arthur, learn a few Japanese Folktales, be whisked away with 1001 Arabian Nights, and visit the Anansi from West Africa.
The key to making these literary classics enjoyable and memorable for you and your child is no pressure. There are no worksheets, word searches, or any other kind of busywork associated with these weeks. Just snuggle up and enjoy!
Stop, listen, and discuss
There’s no need to bulldoze right through to the end of the chapter. If your kids are anything like mine, you can expect them to interrupt with questions, comments, clarifications, obscure pop culture references, and a few random non-sequiturs. Great! Talk it out. Answer questions. Go ahead and Google the stuff you don’t know. Learn some new vocabulary words. Take a break right in the middle of the Mesoamerica chapter to check out the famous Mesoamerican ball game on YouTube before finishing the reading. Or do a short lesson from the TED-Ed site about Polynesian wayfinding.
Make read-aloud time with History Quest: Early Times a family affair
My teenage son, long-since recovered from my unfortunate bungling of Goblet of Fire, now enjoys reading aloud to his younger brother. (I have to admit that his numerous character voices and accents are better than mine.) For those looking to get siblings involved, the “History Hop” chapters in History Quest are a great place to start. In these chapters, readers themselves get to visit an ancient civilization and chat with a real or legendary historical figure. This interactivity creates a great opportunity to draw in siblings of any age to help read, dramatize the story, or even just listen along.
Expand on what you read with hands-on activities
To turn your read-aloud history into a full curriculum, pick up a History Quest: Early Times Study Guide or History Quest Middle Times Study Guide, also from Pandia Press. In the History Quest: Early Times chapter book, you will read about how the ancient Egyptians made mummies. With the companion study guide, you’ll make a mummy of your own out of an apple! Meet Marco Polo in History Quest: Middle Times and then show off a favorite past journey of your own by creating a map craft from the study guide.
Our study guides include hands-on projects, crafts, recipes, coloring pages, map work, discussion questions, suggestions for further reading, and more – everything you need to expand your History Quest reading into a full year of history study. And for those who just can’t get enough read-aloud time together, the study guide also includes four weeks of literature study from ancient times or the Middle Ages.
Reading aloud can be a fun way for families to learn together. It can even help you forge a stronger connection with your homeschooled child, and with History Quest, you, the parent might even learn a few things about these long-ago civilizations that you didn’t know before.
Whether you decide to read in an overstuffed chair, on a porch swing, or under a favorite tree, when you reflect back on your homeschooling experience years from now, you might find that read-aloud time together with your child was one of your favorite parts of homeschooling.
About the Author
Lindsey Sodano is a writer and editor with degrees in English and education from Boston College. She is the development editor for the History Quest: Early Times chapter book series and the co-author of the accompanying study guide. Lindsey has three kids and runs a rather boisterous and sassy homeschool. In her spare time, she enjoys participating in community theatre and visiting theme parks with her kids. Her favorite children’s book for read-aloud time is The Maggie B. by Irene Haas, and in case you were wondering, her Hogwarts house is Slytherin.