Stuck at home with kids to educate and entertain? Trying to teach kids history long distance?
Historical fiction is a great way to bring history to life. It’s especially valuable for young people, who may not find textbook history interesting.
I’ve been impressed with the many wonderful ways teachers come up with to use historical fiction in the classroom. Consider this teacher’s review for my novel The Well of Sacrifice:
“My class (fourth/fifth graders) read this book for our theme: The Maya. The book gave authentic facts about the Mayan culture and a plausible explanation for the demise of their culture. We used the book as the backbone of several language arts exercises such as: written and oral reports about the Maya, literary criticism of characters, plot, and sequence, persuasive essays on human sacrifice vs. murder and Mayan culture vs. our own culture; and art projects from wood burning to mapping. We studied geography and the rainforest. The students’ enthusiasm for this book pushed our curriculum into other disciplines including math.”
Get her lesson plans here. I also provide free Lesson Plans aligned to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
Historical fiction can connect to other curriculum areas as well. Some teachers like to have students write their own versions of what happened after my book ends. Their answers can range from marriage and happily ever after, to massive death and destruction. This type of exercise another way to get young people engaged with history.
History Lessons That Resonate
Using historical fiction in the classroom or at home can help kids understand history better. It can also help them understand and identify with people of the past. If they can do that, they should be better able to understand and identify with different people today.
My Egyptian mystery The Eyes of Pharaoh also works as supplemental fiction. The Eyes of Pharaoh is ideal for use in elementary and middle school classrooms.
“Using this historical fiction is a window into Ancient Egypt—its people, culture, and beliefs. My class enjoyed doing research on Egyptian gods and goddesses, and hieroglyphs. Projects extended their knowledge of this fascinating time and place. I also highly recommend it for its fast-paced plot, interesting and ‘real’ characters, and excellent writing.” – teacher of gifted fourth and fifth graders
There are loads of projects classes can do, from art to discussion groups to persuasive letters. In addition, my book explores themes of national pride and attitudes about foreigners and immigration. The book can be used as a discussion starter.
But often it’s the simple things that help kids connect. For example, the ancient Egyptians may seem wildly exotic in their religion and architecture. Yet their food sounds tasty, and you don’t find too many things that sound yucky-weird – instead it’s “platters piled with joints of meat, bread baked into animal shapes, cheese, nuts, and fresh fruit.” I did a school visit and one of the students brought in “honey cakes” her mother had made from a recipe she found online. They were similar to cornbread served with honey, simple and tasty.
Historical fiction shows our differences, but also our similarities.
Teachers who would like lesson plans associated with the book can find them at my website, or the publisher’s website links to these and lesson plans for other novels.
Find the books:
If you buy a classroom or school set of 6 or more copies, contact me via my website for a free Skype visit.