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Exploring History's Greatest Adventures throughout time!

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Epic Adventures for Your Homeschool History Curriculum: Teaching History through Historic Novels

October 27, 202312 min read

When it comes to teaching history in your home school, keeping your kids engaged can be quite the challenge. After all, history can sometimes be perceived as a never-ending parade of names, dates, and dusty old tomes. But fear not, fellow homeschooling parents! There's a way to keep history exciting and adventurous in your homeschool history curriculum.

The Power of Adventure in History

The thrill of adventure can make history come alive for your young learners. Think about it – history is filled with epic journeys, daring explorations, and fascinating discoveries. By focusing on the adventurous side of history, you can turn what might be seen as a dry subject into an exhilarating quest for knowledge.

Travel Back in Time with Epic Journeys

One way to inject some adventure into your homeschool history curriculum is to embark on epic journeys through the annals of history. Dive into stories of brave explorers, intrepid adventurers, and fearless pioneers. Take your kids on a virtual time-travel experience without ever leaving your living room.

Imagine sailing the high seas with Oliver Hazard Perry or trekking through the Amazon rainforest with Percy Fawcett. These exciting adventures are waiting to be explored through historical novels. And trust me, when your kids are living these adventures through words on the page, they won't want to put their history books down.

Unconventional Heroes: Portraying History's Realities

Another way to keep history engaging is by introducing your kids to unconventional heroes. History isn't just about kings, queens, and political figures. There are countless unsung heroes, ordinary people who did extraordinary things. These are the stories that can captivate your children's hearts and minds.

Think about the brave nurses of the American Civil War like Clara Barton or the young Anne Frank, who documented her experiences during the Holocaust. Introducing your children to these remarkable figures through historical novels can help them relate to the past in a more personal and emotional way.

These unconventional heroes are the ones who can inspire your kids to be empathetic, to stand up for what they believe in, and to appreciate the value of everyday courage. It's all part of the adventure of history, and it can be a powerful lesson for your young learners.

Charting Unexplored Territories: A Reading Adventure

Historical novels can vividly recreate these epic journeys, immersing your children in the experiences, challenges, and triumphs of these intrepid explorers. Through the eyes of fictional characters, they'll hike through dense rainforests, brave treacherous waters, and marvel at the beauty of new lands. It's not just a homeschool history curriculum; it’s an action-packed novel.

Unraveling Mysteries and Secrets: Learning Through Adventure

As you read about these epic journeys, your kids won't just be following a story; they'll be solving mysteries and discovering secrets. History is full of unsolved puzzles, hidden treasures, and unknown territories. When your children join in on these literary adventures, they become explorers themselves, uncovering the past's enigmas.

Take, for instance, the quest for El Dorado, the legendary city of gold. As your kids follow the path of explorers like Francisco Orellana, they'll learn about the tantalizing myths, the search for riches, and the challenges faced during these quests. The excitement of solving these historical mysteries is an unparalleled learning experience.

Traveling Through Time, Space, and Imagination: It's More Than Just a Story

The beauty of incorporating epic journeys into your homeschool history curriculum is that it's not just reading—it's an immersive experience. Your kids will travel through time, space, and their own imagination. They'll visualize the landscapes, smell the scents of the jungle, and hear the calls of exotic birds.

Reading about Magellan's circumnavigation of the globe isn't just a lesson in geography and history; it's an exercise in empathy. Your children will feel the thrill of standing on unknown shores, the anticipation of navigating uncharted waters, and the camaraderie of sharing a small ship with a crew of adventurers.

They'll learn not only about the historical context but also about the human experiences that make history come alive. They'll understand the sacrifices, dreams, and determination of those who dared to explore the unknown. It's a profound connection that goes beyond the pages of a book.

 

Practical Tips for Your Epic Journey

Ready to embark on these literary adventures in your homeschool? Here are some practical tips to get you started:

  1. Choose Engaging Novels: Select historical novels that are well-researched and engaging. Look for books that immerse readers in the era and culture they depict.

  2. Create a Reading Schedule: Set aside dedicated time for reading and discussions. You can even include historical snacks or music to enhance the experience.

  3. Discuss and Reflect: After each reading session, have discussions with your kids about the characters, challenges, and discoveries in the story. Encourage them to ask questions and share their thoughts.

  4. Supplement with Activities: Consider complementing the reading with activities related to the time period. For instance, if you're reading about explorers, try mapping their journeys or recreating historical artifacts.

Remember, history doesn't have to be a boring subject filled with dry facts. By incorporating epic journeys through literature into your homeschool history curriculum, you'll make the past come alive in a way that's engaging, exciting, and unforgettable. So, hoist the literary sails and set forth on a reading adventure with your young historians!

Discover the Human Side of History

History isn't just a series of dates and events; it's a story of people. And people are complex, with dreams, flaws, and unique perspectives. That's where historical novels come in, giving us a window into the lives of those who came before us. So, if you want to enrich your homeschool history curriculum, dive into the world of complex characters portrayed through novels.

Step into Their Shoes: Understanding the Past

One of the most remarkable aspects of historical novels is their ability to make history personal. By getting to know the characters in these books, your kids can understand the past from a more human perspective. They'll relate to the hopes and fears, the triumphs and failures of those who lived in different times and places.

Imagine, for instance, reading about the life of a young girl during the Civil War. Through her eyes, your kids will experience the challenges of that era in a way that no history textbook can convey. It's like stepping into a time machine and living the past, rather than just memorizing facts.

Real-Life Complexities: Lessons in Humanity

History isn't just black and white; it's filled with shades of gray. And that's where complex characters in historical novels shine. They portray the real-life complexities of human nature, showing that people in the past were as multi-faceted as we are today.

By reading about these intricate characters, your children will learn about empathy and tolerance. They'll understand that history isn't a simple narrative of heroes and villains, but a tapestry of diverse experiences, perspectives, and choices. This valuable lesson in humanity is a crucial part of a well-rounded education.

Stepping into Their Shoes: Developing Empathy

Empathy is a powerful tool for understanding history and the world at large. When your kids connect with the characters in historical novels, they're developing empathy. They'll learn to see the world through the eyes of people from different times, cultures, and backgrounds.

For example, reading about the struggles of an immigrant family during the early 20th century will help your kids appreciate the challenges faced by immigrants throughout history. It will encourage them to be more open-minded and compassionate individuals. Plus, it's a fun and immersive way to learn about the past!

 

How to Choose Novels with Complex Characters

characters

To make the most of this approach in your homeschool history curriculum, you'll want to choose novels with well-drawn, complex characters. Here are some tips to help you pick the right books:

  1. Research: Look for novels that are historically accurate and well-researched. You want the characters to be authentic and representative of the time period.

  2. Diverse Perspectives: Select books that offer diverse perspectives and experiences. This will give your kids a well-rounded view of history.

  3. Age-Appropriate: Make sure the books are age-appropriate for your children. You want them to be engaged, not overwhelmed.

  4. Discussion: After reading, engage in discussions with your kids about the characters' motivations, decisions, and how their lives relate to the historical context.

Incorporating Complex Characters in Your Curriculum

So, how can you effectively incorporate these complex characters into your homeschool history curriculum? It's simpler than you might think:

  1. Reading List: Create a reading list that includes historical novels with characters from various time periods and backgrounds.

  2. Dedicated Reading Time: Set aside time for reading and discussions in your daily or weekly schedule. This allows your kids to absorb the stories at their own pace.

  3. Discussion and Reflection: After each reading session, have meaningful discussions with your children about the characters, their dilemmas, and how they reflect the realities of the past.

  4. Creative Projects: Encourage your kids to create projects related to the characters they've read about. They could write journal entries as if they were the character or even put on historical "reenactments" to better understand their lives.

By embracing complex characters portrayed in historical novels, you're not just teaching history; you're instilling in your children a deeper understanding of human nature and a greater appreciation for the complexities of our shared past. So, grab a captivating historical novel, step into the shoes of those who came before, and let history come alive in your homeschool!

 

Where to Find Historic Novels for Children and Teens

Historic Books for Kids logo

Historic Books for Kids is a specially curated bookstore that focuses solely on historical fiction for young adults, middle schoolers, and upper elementary ages. We choose the lowest cost version we can find and shelve them by era or time period – like Ancient History, Middle Ages, Renaissance, 1700s, 1800s, and 1900s to present. Now you and your readers can zero in on an era that interests them the most, or even what they’re learning in school.

Besides the classics and Newberry winners, we also have new classics and indie authored young adult historical novels.

You may be interested in our list of over 130 historic novels especially for teens. But our book store continues to grow.

Visit the Historic Books for Kids website and bookstore here.

While there, be sure to sign up for our monthly newsletter to learn of new releases hot off the presses!

We offer an ever-growing library of free printables for teachers and homeschoolers and fascinating articles on historic topics that correspond with many of the historical fiction books we suggest. Download and enjoy for free as much as you want, as often as you want. Don’t forget to check out our Parents and Teachers Resources page too – some products are affiliates, some are our own.

Our bookstore is operated through the nonprofit Bookshop.org. Bookshop donates a portion of the proceeds to the small brick and mortar store of your choice to help them survive among mega online retailers. Plus the small affiliate portion that we earn helps us to stay in business and help you teach history to your kids. It’s a win-win-win arrangement!

 

Make History Fun with Engaging Activities

Alright, homeschool history enthusiasts, we've talked about the excitement of historical adventures, the depth of complex characters, and now it's time to roll up our sleeves and dive into the fun stuff – engaging activities inspired by historic journeys. If you're looking to breathe life into your homeschool history curriculum, these creative activities will take your lessons to a whole new level.

Activity #1: Map It Out – Create Your Historical Maps

Maps are a window into history, showing us where explorers ventured and battles were fought. So, why not encourage your kids to become cartographers for a day? After reading about a famous historical journey or battle, have them create their own maps.

Provide them with blank paper, colored pencils, and historical resources. Let them draw the route of Lewis and Clark or map out the significant locations of the American Revolution. Not only will this activity improve their geography skills, but it will also help them visualize the journey and better understand its challenges.

Activity #2: Time-Traveler's Journal – Write from the Past

Historical novels often transport us to different eras, so why not take it a step further and have your kids write as if they were time travelers? After reading a chapter or two of a historical novel, ask them to imagine they were right there in the story.

They can keep a time traveler's journal, describing the sights, sounds, and experiences as if they were witnessing history unfold. This not only encourages them to pay attention to historical details but also enhances their storytelling skills. Plus, it's a ton of fun to put themselves in the shoes of a character from the past.

Activity #3: Historical Cooking Adventures – Taste the Past

Food has always played a significant role in history, from ancient recipes to wartime rations. So, why not bring history to life through the taste buds? After reading about a specific historical era or event, challenge your kids to cook a dish that would have been popular at the time.

It's like a delicious journey through history! For example, if you've been reading about the American Civil War, try making hardtack, a type of cracker that was a staple for soldiers. Or if you've been exploring the Renaissance, whip up a medieval feast with dishes like spiced beef and mead. It's a hands-on way to connect with the past and learn about the flavors of history.

Incorporating Activities into Your Curriculum

Now that you have a few exciting activity ideas to enhance your homeschool history curriculum, let's talk about how to incorporate them seamlessly.

Dedicated Activity Days: Designate specific days or afternoons each week for engaging activities. This gives your kids something to look forward to and keeps your curriculum fresh.

Connect with What You're Reading: Tie the activities to what you're currently reading in your historical novels. This way, they complement your lessons and provide a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

Engage in Discussions: After each activity, encourage your kids to discuss their experiences and what they've learned. This helps reinforce the historical knowledge they've gained.

Document the Fun: Consider keeping a homeschool history journal to document the activities you've completed. This can serve as a fantastic keepsake of your educational adventures.

 

Final Thoughts

Remember, history doesn't have to be confined to dusty old textbooks. With these engaging activities, you can make it come alive in your homeschool. Map out journeys, write time traveler's journals, and cook up historical feasts – the possibilities are endless. So, go ahead, add some adventure to your homeschool history curriculum and make learning a delightful experience!

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