5 Reasons to Teach "The Curious Historian" to Your Middle Schooler

~ Written by Marissa Moldoch ~

For a few minutes, imagine that you’re standing in the middle of the Sahara Desert. Feel the sand squishing beneath your feet as you stride forward. For better or worse, you’ve chosen the hottest part of the day to set out on this grand adventure, and now you’re drenched in sweat. It’s not a comfortable feeling, but it’ll all be worth it once you reach your destination. You can’t see anything yet, but you hear chatter in the distance. You excitedly turn to your fellow travelers and feel grateful to be on this adventure with them. 

As you move toward the noise, a large workforce comes into view. You’re greeted by the sight of construction workers, sculptors, and craftsmen, executing their tasks with precision. That’s right—you’re in ancient Egypt, watching these laborers build a pyramid. You stare in disbelief. You couldn’t have imagined how magnificent it would look in person!   

Two workers approach you and explain that they need volunteers to help with this enormous undertaking. “You can live in our village so you don’t have to journey back and forth every day,” they say. You gladly accept, knowing that you’re participating in something special—something that will go down in history.

More Than Memorization

As they read The Curious Historian, students will go back in time to explore the thriving civilizations of the Bronze Age, the Iron Age, the Classical Age, and the Middle Ages. Here are 5 reasons why they’ll love this creative curriculum.

1. A Fascinating Narrative

From leaders and rulers to writers and inventors, The Curious Historian introduces students to a handful of notable figures, such as Hammurabi, Sargon the Great, Confucius, Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar. “You will read about why we remember them, what they did, and what they tried but failed to do. You will learn about what they have left behind that are still of great value to historians: monuments, writings, personal belongings, and more. You will learn these people’s stories,” says Christopher Perrin.

2. Engaging Activities

Each chapter in The Curious Historian presents students with opportunities to apply their critical thinking skills and showcase their creativity. They’ll complete crossword puzzles and word searches, draw pictures, sing songs, translate hieroglyphics, write short fiction and non-fiction pieces, and more! For instance, Level 2A asks students to consider which mystery of Greek history they would like to help solve. In their writing, they can describe what kind of clues they’d search for, as well as what answers their discovery might reveal.

3. Striking Visuals

The Curious Historian’s stunning imagery provides additional context and enriches the reading experience. After all, it’s one thing to envision an ancient coin, cosmetic box, or musical instrument, but it’s much more fun to see a real-life example. “The full-color art and artifacts pictured throughout each book will help you understand what these civilizations created and will give you an appreciation of the wonder and beauty of history,” writes Christopher Perrin.

4. Thought-Provoking Questions

The Curious Historian poses captivating questions that set the stage for riveting discussions. For example, The Curious Historian Level 1A explains how kings and warriors built monuments and pyramids to tell people about their amazing deeds. Then, it asks students to consider what famous people do today to ensure that people will remember them and what they have done. When students begin to understand the past and how it has shaped the world we live in today, they gain context about current events and recognize how societies and cultures have evolved over time.

5. Bonus Information

Each chapter contains numerous sidebars that provide additional information or summarize key facts. Some of them point out places where ancient history intersects with historical events or figures mentioned in the Bible, while others explain the Latin or Greek root words for key vocabulary. Since the sidebars are optional, students don’t have to study them to complete the chapter reviews. However, they make for delightful reads and give the students something else to ponder and take away from the lesson.

Additionally, a fictional “archaeologist extraordinaire” named Archibald Diggs has ripped pages from his own notebook and left them throughout the texts for students to examine. In these notations, he shares interesting tidbits and fascinating archaeological discoveries. For instance, he says, “The stories about the Mesopotamian gods did not always make good sense. As archaeologists, we would say these were ‘disorderly stories,’ because the facts or the order of events don’t stay the same in every version of the story.” 


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