History Quest: Early Times as well as History Quest: Study Guide was provided to Secular Homeschooler in exchange for a review. The links included within this review are affiliate links and will offer financial support for our website at no extra cost to you.
History Quest: Early Times is a fully secular history curriculum by Lisa Hawkins and Lindsey Sodano, published by Pandia Press. It consists of both a storybook as well as a study guide.
The storybook could be standalone in itself. It brings your students from prehistory to 800 CE. The storybook rivals the length of a Harry Potter novel, consisting of 516 pages and 26 chapters of an enticing narrative taking kids through a tour of various early civilizations such as Assyria, Babylon, Mesoamerica, India, Rome, Kush, Greece, Aksum, China, Arabia, and Egypt as well as paleolithic and neolithic times! The end of the book includes a table of illustrations and a table of maps for quick reference.
There is something called a History Hop offered within each chapter that offers a more “first-hand” and interactive experience for your student(s). My ten-year-old says this is her favorite thing about the curriculum. History Hops go into specific aspects of people and places. Think of it as historical roleplaying! This angle provides a way to make some abstract concepts and points more easily absorbable, I found.
Let’s Talk About Religion in History Curriculum
What’s so great about History Quest: Early Times is that it is secular and focuses on proven history without pushing or emphasizing any religious beliefs. Any religious education is strictly from the perspective of how people interacted with them throughout history. Various religions are touched upon, but the beliefs themselves are not presented as a historical account. It also doesn’t put any extra emphasis on Christianity like other programs I’ve seen, which makes sense to me because it’s already so ingrained in our culture, media, and politics that it doesn’t need emphasis. Yes, Christianity had a strong influence on history, but it still has a stronghold on modern-day life as well. My kids and I appreciate the equal attention to other world religions and their influences on history and culture.
The storybook setup of this curriculum reminds me of Story of the World, only instead of pushing Protestant views, History Quest found a way to do this from a totally secular perspective. If you’ve ever felt disheartened that SOTW wouldn’t work for your family, even though you liked the format, then you’ll really appreciate History Quest and the work that they’re doing with this new series.
An educator could read the book aloud or an older student could read it alone. Pandia Press also offers an audio version of the storybook that is excellent for parents looking to conserve energy, for kids that struggle with things like dyslexia, or simply learn best by listening. My own daughters both prefer audiobooks over mom reading aloud, so I’m really thankful that it’s an option. They also sell a Kindle version of the book on Amazon as well as a PDF version on the Pandia Press website (better for printing) for families and educators that prefer to reduce their book clutter!
This is definitely geared towards elementary-aged children and is organized in weekly units. The content can cover an entire school year of history lessons for your student(s). Outside of the readings, there are geography, writing, art, and discussion projects to enrich the learning experience.
The storybook is accompanied by a 268-page study guide for parents and educators. The study guide consists of scheduling suggestions, directions, activities, enrichment ideas, and maps. While the storybook could be used as a standalone history guide through your school year, the study guide along with it’s recommended spine The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History really helps to put it together in a structured way. The History Quest study guide includes about 75 pages of maps, coloring pages, and History Travel Logs for student use.
The study guide breaks down 26 lessons and a conclusion that could easily last an entire school year at one lesson a week. Each of the lessons is broken into five days and titled Discover, Explore, Create, Demonstrate, and Enrich. Each day comes with recommended reading and activities based on those themes. They took great care in the planning prep for parents and educators.
The first day of each lesson is called Discover and utilizes both of the spines through reading assignments and mapping assignments.
The second day of each lesson is called Explore. The History Hops are read on this day and your child or student can take their History Hop experience and journal about it in their History Travel Log.
The third day of each lesson is called Create and is an arts and crafts day! It’s a great hands-on way to explore the material being learned.
The fourth day of each lesson is called Demonstrate. It offers ideas and pushes for your child to demonstrate the content they’ve learned. Examples of this are short answer assignments, passage copy work for their History Travel Log, or verbal narration to their parent or caregiver.
The fifth day of each lesson is called Enrich and seems mostly like a guided freebie day. There are recommended links, books, and videos to explore.
Hygge History, “…where cozy enjoyment of classic literature is your only assignment.”
There are an extra four lessons, or units, that can be dispersed throughout the year that are referred to as Hygge History. I personally swooned over this concept and loved the recommended books for these units. My favorite book from the Hygge History units is the Ramayana: The Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel. I’ve actually loved this book for a really long time. His work has had me fascinated by Hindu mythology for years now. (See Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth and The Little Book of Hindu Deities and try not to be overtaken by their adorable nature.)
Okay, let’s cover some of the basic recommended supplies for this curriculum. It’s not nearly as extensive as I thought it would be. Another thing I was thankful for.
There are Enrichment Reading suggestions in each lesson. We didn’t use very many of them and still felt we got a lot out of what we’ve done so far. My family really enjoys internet links, videos, and other multimedia options over piles of library books. So the suggested internet links have been where we spend most of our “enrichment” time.
You’ll want a binder and coloring tools for your child’s History Notebook. You’ll also want basic art supplies – markers, paints, pens, brushes, flour, clay, glue, tape, scissors, leftover Amazon boxes, baking soda, craft sticks, salt, storage bags, paper, ruler, tissue paper, etc. With a standard stock of crafting supplies, you’ll be able to do just about any craft project within the study guide.
My Closing Thoughts
The printed books are stunning. Very beautifully designed and printed, which is something I appreciate as a designer. However, I would recommend the e-book version because it’d be easier to print the student pages. As I mentioned earlier, the audiobook version of History Quest: Early Times is also recommended for us parents that don’t have the energy to read for an hour every day to our younger kiddos. You can also assign your 10 y/o to read aloud to the family. For practice…