Lindsey Sodano, content editor of History Quest: Early Times and co-author of the companion History Quest: Early Times Study Guide, offers five tips for making the most of your read-aloud experience with History Quest.
One of my favorite times of year to go shopping is toward the end of the summer. Barbecue supplies, sparklers, and flag t-shirts have disappeared, making way for stacks of pristine notebooks, bins of glue sticks, and reasonable prices on the greatest pencil ever manufactured, the Dixon Ticonderoga. But if you’re a homeschooler planning to hop into history this year using History Quest, the new narrative history series from Pandia Press, you’ll need to add one more item to your school supply wish list – one that you won’t find among those glorious aisles of binders, hole punchers, and thermal laminators. You’re going to need a snuggle chair.
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 that good book happens to be History Quest: Early Times, here are some tips for making the most of your read-aloud experience:
#1 Prepare yourself with a quick skim of History Quest
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! As the editor of History Quest, I can assure you that you won’t encounter anything as shocking as the end of Goblet of Fire in your homeschool history curriculum 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.
#2 Get cozy
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.
In the History Quest 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!
#3 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. Pop over to Google Earth during one of the Egypt chapters and check out the Giza Necropolis as it looks today.
#4 Make read-aloud time with History Quest 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.
Meet Ashoka the Great in History Quest, and then use the study guide to cook a vegan Indian dinner that he would have enjoyed.
#5 Expand on what you read with hands-on activities
To turn your read-aloud history into a full curriculum, pick up the History Quest: Early Times Study Guide, also from Pandia Press. In the History Quest 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 Ashoka the Great in History Quest, and then use the study guide to cook a vegan Indian dinner that he would have enjoyed.
Our study guide includes 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 Sumer, Greece, India, and China.
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: Early Times, you the parent might even learn a few things about ancient 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.
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 chapter book series and the co-author of the accompanying study guides. 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.