History Quest Review

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With its literature-based teaching, narrative style, immersive and meaningful activities, multisensory approach and broad, multicultural outlook, History Quest can be a great alternative to traditional history textbooks that can teach younger students history without boring them to tears. 

What We Like

Engaging secular history curriculum with narrative/story approach
Very open and flexible curriculum that can fit many homeschool styles
Lots of multisensory learning
Very easy to teach, open and go curriculum
Touches on more than history, with geography, spelling exercises and more
Available in print format, audiobooks and PDF
Exposes students to many different cultures and civilizations throughout history
Try before you buy option lets parents check out curriculum before committing

But Be Careful

Lots of hands on activities means that parents may end up having to shop for some supplies
Quite a few books in the optional book lists that parents will have to buy to make full use of the program’s enrichment options

What is History Quest

Pandia Press’ History Quest is a full, secular history curriculum designed for students in grades 1-6.

The program uses a combination of storytelling, multisensory learning and craft projects to engage students and teach them history from the perspective of a number of cultures and people. 

Currently written to cover the 7th through the 17th century, the curriculum is expected to eventually cover modern and US history, ultimately replacing Pandia’s History Odyssey, Level One series.  

What Ages or Grades is History Quest Intended For?

History Quest is an elementary level history curriculum aimed primarily at students in grades 1-6.

At the moment, there are two, year-long levels covered by History Quest: 

  • Early Times – which covers prehistory to the 7th century or so
  • Middle Times – which covers the period between the fall of Rome to the 17th century or so

Future titles in the program will cover Modern Times and US History, although these are still in development as of writing. 

Taking students through an overview of prehistory through the 17th century, History Quest is designed to replace Pandia’s previous history series for the age group, History Odyssey Level One.  

As might be expected from a homeschooling program, Pandia Press doesn’t really provide a specific grade level for History Quest.

With its immersive instruction, audiobooks, hands-on activities, interesting and illustrated texts and a book list that accommodates a variety of reading abilities, we feel History Quest can easily be used by students at pretty much any grade level in elementary school.

Beyond the core books and activities, the program allows parents to pretty easily scale the complexity of learning and activities up or down to suit a child’s needs or abilities through the use of optional enrichment readings, assessments and activities. 

Parents teaching younger students can, for example, rely more on reading the material aloud and focus more on the hands-on activities, while those teaching the upper grades can use the curriculum as independent study, making use of the more sophisticated enrichment books, critical thinking questions, writing activities and, of course, supplement the program with research and reporting activities as needed.   

What’s included or required in History Quest

Rather than adhering to a single textbook, History Quest makes use of a few books as the core or spine of its curriculum. 

There are the History Quest texts themselves (Early Times and Middle Times), which take students chronologically through various points and places in history (each as its own unit) and approach its study as an immersive story or narrative retelling. 

They also include History Hop! Chapters, which we will discuss later. 

Alongside each History Quest text is a study guide, which provides essential structure to the course and contains lesson plans, supply lists, lesson scheduling and pace, teaching tips, hands-on activities and assessment questions, links/information for further study (i.e. enrichment), and an appendix containing map keys and various history travel logs that students can remove, work on and add to their own binder. 

The curriculum also makes use of the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History With Internet Links, supplementing each unit of the History Quest texts with select passages from the visually impressive classic. 

photo of usborne encyclopedia of world history pages

The History Quest texts, study guide and Usborne Encyclopedia essentially make up the spine or core of the program, and parents are encouraged to add to it with various resources, such as online maps, geography content, digital links included on the Pandia Press website and more. 

There are also a couple book lists that are included in the program, a Hygge History book list and an enrichment book list, from which parents can select books to enrich and deepen learning in various units. 

The Hygge History books are their own units in the course and so, should parents choose to include them, require a few books to be purchased separately. 

In contrast, the enrichment book list includes optional books that allow students to explore existing units in more depth, and parents are free to pick and choose how many of these they wish to include (if any). 

Overall, there are a few more moving parts to History Quest than there might be with a single, standard history textbook and workbook. 

That said, it is far more engaging, being literature and story-based, and very flexible. 

Parents are free to use the core books exclusively,  purchase the recommended Hygge/enrichment books, or even add their own resources to the mix. 

How it Works

As mentioned above, the core or spine of History Quest is in its study guide, text and the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History with Links. 

The study guide provides the essential structure to the learning, providing parents with a fairly detailed and scripted lesson plan that includes key vocabulary and concepts, readings from both the text and Usborne, various suggested activities, assessment options and as well as options for further study and enrichment.

The study guide also offers a ready 5 day schedule that parents can follow that follows a common essential plan to cover a unit – Discover, Explore, Create, Demonstrate and Enrich.

Day 1 – Discover

The first day of History Quest is called discovery, and is where the unit material is introduced and the week’s reading is done. 

Typically parents and students will read a chapter from the main History Quest text, which introduces the key ideas and events in history and forms the basis of the unit. 

There are 27 units in Early Times and 28 units or chapters in Middle Times (as well as 4 Hygge History units sprinkled throughout) in total, and they are designed to cover roughly a year’s worth of learning at a unit/chapter a week pace.

The units are very informally written and are very engaging, at times reading very much like a story, and are designed to draw kids into history rather than inundating them with facts and dates, as is so common.  

screenshot of History Quest

Parents of younger students are, in fact, encouraged to read these chapters aloud as sort of a story, which they certainly can given that the chapters aren’t terribly long (usually under 10 pages or so) and use a casual, illustrative and engaging writing style that won’t bore the listener (or reader). 

Older students and precocious readers can, of course, read these on their own as a self-study text. 

In fact, we feel that average readers over the age of 9 or 10 or so should have no issue reading and comprehending a chapter of History Quest if left to it. 

Despite its casual writing style, however, the History Quest texts are still quite informative and are filled with useful information, dates and facts that students should know. 

The History Quest readings are bolstered by specific assigned pages in the Usborne Encyclopedia, which supplements the story-like learning with a more formal, chronological and highly illustrated examination of the specific unit’s topic. 

Beyond the two texts, students typically also do some mapwork, where they identify that unit’s particular geographic locations, important features and so on. 

In addition to adding a more visual and hands-on element to the learning, it also gives students a better understanding of what they’re learning (and the relationship between geography and historical development), and interestingly can serve to provide extra practice and draw a link to the student’s social studies learning, which is kind of cool. 

Overall, between the two texts, we feel that students get a pretty solid, entertaining and comprehensive overview of history.

It is somewhat reading heavy, usually covering around 20 pages between the text and Usborne, but keep in mind this does represent a week’s work and the Usborne Encyclopedia (and its links) are very visual and don’t have a huge amount of text and so don’t take much as much time to read through. 

Day 2 – Explore 

The second day’s learning is really about diving into history a little more deeply and connecting it to the student in a more personal way. 

Parents and students return to the History Quest text, reading a second component to the unit, called History Hop!

History Hop! is a section of the unit that seems to be designed to personalize history a little bit more. 

It is more of a story, written in the second person, which is designed to help students picture themselves traveling back through time into the period and place in question. 

screenshot of history quest history hop

In the rather descriptive story, students explore the location and period’s geography, visiting cities and towns, meeting contemporary people and overall getting a more personal sense of what it must have been like to live in these places. 

Following this reading, students create a History Travel Log, where they detail (through writing, illustration and/or craft) their experiences and thoughts on the unit’s history, geography and people.

picture of history quest history log

They may, for example, connect where they live to the area in question with an arrow on a map, create a timeline, or make some artwork that represents what they did, who they met and so on. 

We found the History Hop and Travel Log component to be kind of interesting. 

A big problem with many history courses is that they tend to treat history as a series of events and dates, disconnected from our own era and lives. 

As such, kids often have a hard time finding their passion for history, since it doesn’t mean much to them personally.  

By making history a little more interactive and giving it a little more flavor, History Quest can help students better understand and appreciate history, even if they perhaps aren’t necessarily the biggest fans of these sort of role playing activities.

Day 3 – Crafts

Day 3 in History Quest takes a bit of a departure from formal learning and involves some crafts that kids can work on. 

Generally speaking these are little hands-on activities that kids work on that connect to the overall theme of the unit in some way. These may be creating artwork, going into the kitchen and cooking up a local and contemporary delicacy, or even constructing models, such as ziggurats, or doing origami. 

Not only does this provide a nice break in the week for students that need it, but also introduces a good amount of hands-on, get up and go learning that can be very beneficial for more tactile learners and really underscores the overall multisensory nature of the program. 

And the crafts are kind of fun and interesting, going well beyond the simple paint, macaroni and glue projects that most programs include. 

The only real downside to this is that History Quest doesn’t really provide any materials to use, relying on parents to have or be able to source these materials themselves. 

While there isn’t anything particularly exotic, most projects involve common household items and art supplies, there is a high likelihood that parents won’t have a few items on hand (such as clay pots, certain spices, modeling clay and so on) and will probably need to read lesson plans ahead of time and go shopping now and again 

Day 4 assessment

If day 3 is everyone’s preferred day of the week, day 4 is probably the least as it involves assessment. 

On this day, parents use questions and exercises included in the study guide to test their student’s understanding and retention of information.

Typically, there are short form questions, discussion questions and, interestingly, copywork and dictation.

screenshot of history quest dictation exercise

We feel the copywork and dictation exercise option can be particularly interesting because, much like the first day’s mapwork can help students practice their geography, it allows History Quest to help students with their spelling as well as their history, making the program a little more integrative and multidisciplinary. 

The exact method of assessment is left up to the parent, making History Quest pretty flexible in this regard. 

Parents can choose any option they’d like, letting students answer either through written or verbal responses, and there’s, of course, nothing stopping parents from supplementing (or replacing) the assessment with their own exercises to add some more rigor, such as a mini-research project or a multiple choice test.

It really is left up to the parent, the student’s ability and the homeschool style, which is nice.

Day 5 enrichment

Day 5 is an enrichment day, allowing parents and students to freely use material to deepen the learning. 

There are links provided by Pandia press, which offer educational videos of all kinds of videos, quizzes, articles and more, that touch on some of the topics explored in the unit and explore them in greater depth.  

A unit on the British Isles, for example, may have a video on daily life in Norman villages, a TedEd talk on the influence of the Normans and a passage from Beowulf, so kids can hear Old English for themselves.

There are also reading suggestions, usually high interest living books of some kind that dive a little more into some of the topics presented in the unit and act as an additional literature component. 

These books aren’t included with History Quest and will require parents to purchase them separately, however. 

Hygge history units

As the year progresses, interspersed throughout the different units, parents and students will come across four History Quest’s Hygge History Units.

photo of history quest hygge component instructions

Hygge is a Danish (and Norwegian) word and concept that describes a sense of coziness, particularly when relaxing and filled with feelings of contentment, well-being and the sense of living in the moment.

In education the idea is to create a calm, low-pressure and warm teaching environment that lets students wind down and de-stress.  

During these Hygge units, the learning is more relaxed and casual, with no assignments or assessments, and they are accompanied by a particular book list with a selection of books for each unit.

The books in each selection are thematically linked, for example the literature for the Middle East Hygge unit are different variations of the Arabian Nights, but offer different levels of complexity to align with different age groups. 

For example, with the unit on ancient China, parents and students can read Chinese Children’s Favorite Stories, a collection of 13 folktales, or shorter, more focused children’s books, such as The Water Dragon: A Chinese Legend. 

A Look At History Quest’s Approach to Teaching History

Unit Study

History Quest is a unit-study program. 

Each course is broken up into 30+ weekly units, each touching on different cultures, periods and places in history. 

For example, Early Times contains specific units on Paleolithic culture, Neolithic cultures and societies, Sumeria,  Babylonia, India, Egypt and so on.

Middle Times, meanwhile, has specific units on Early Islamic Culture, the End of the Byzantine Empire, the Mongols, Middle Ages Britain and the British Isles, the Crusades, The Magna Carta and its significance, Early Japan, Yuan and Ming China, the Azteks, the Incas and more.

In this way, rather than seeing history in bits and bites, students can get a better overview of and spend more time learning about how a culture and people existed in a specific time and place. 


History Quest approaches history in a more factual, evidence-based manner, without an emphasis on any particular religion or belief system. 

Although it does touch on Christianity and its influence on history, it also explores, and treats as equally valid, the different beliefs and religions of the various different cultures it explores, such as Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and so on.

Consequently, History Quest can be a great option for secular or even faith-neutral homeschools, but may not be the best fit for those who wish to follow a stricter, faith-based model. 

Cross Cultural Explorations of History

Much like it does religion, History Quest takes a rather inclusive, global view of history. 

Although it does include a good amount of content covering the Western world, students will also learn about cultures in the Middle East, Asia and South America, touching on key moments in the history of Japan, Britain, the Mongol Empire, Ethiopia, India, Egypt, Russia, the Aztec, the Inca, and the Pueblo, just to name a few. 

Given its intended age range and the limited number of pages it can devote to each culture, History Quest isn’t a deep dive into the full history of any of these cultures, but it does provide a good deal more insight into some of their more formative moments, their developments and contributions to the world than other history curricula might.

Literature based History

Unlike a regular textbook, History Quest uses a literature-based approach to teaching history. 

That is, rather than present history as a collection of facts and dates, the program’s main texts are chapter books that are written in an engaging, informal narrative style that guides kids through different periods and places in history and allows them to explore different events, cultures and figures in a way that is more meaningful and interesting to them. 

Similarly, the program supplements its main text with a variety of topically-linked books and stories, such as Gilgamesh the King (for the Unit on Ancient Sumer), Black Ships Before Troy (For the Unit on Greek Mythology), the Stone Age Boy (for Prehistory Units) and so on. 

Multisensory and Hands-on 

In addition to the main texts and use of the beautifully illustrated Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, there are a variety of links sprinkled throughout both that point to various videos, quizzes, games and activities that relate to the topic at hand.

Similarly, the curriculum also includes a wide variety of hands-on activities relating to each unit. Students may build models of important monuments, do artwork and crafts, cook, practice origami, or even mummify some fruit!

In this way,  History Quest has integrated a fair amount of multisensory learning into its curriculum that can help audio/visual and tactile learners better engage with and absorb the material.

How Easy is History Quest To Teach

History Quest is fairly easy to teach with. 

Its study guides are well-scripted and provide parents with quite a bit of detail concerning what to teach, what ideas to emphasize, interesting links to look at and what to do next, particularly when it comes to the craft activities (which is helpful for those of us who aren’t very arts-and-craftsy).  

Screenshot of history quest arts and crafts activity

Overall, they are pretty open and go, doing a pretty good job at guiding parents through history lessons, such that we feel those new to homeschooling or who are a bit rusty on their history should be able to use them to teach effectively without any issue. 

In terms of prep work,however,  while there isn’t much necessary in the way of teaching there are quite a few hands-on projects involved in each unit of History Quest, and parents will probably have to spend a little time getting things together each week, and perhaps even go shopping on occasion for supplies.  

Pros and Cons of History Quest


Open and flexible

History Quest offers a lot of suggestions and options, but doesn’t really require a whole lot in the way of teaching beyond the core texts. 

Parents can easily adjust the program, or supplement it, to fit their homeschool needs and make it right for their student.


History Quest makes use of videos, audio files, reading aloud, lots of hands-on activities, arts and crafts and more as part of its teaching style. As a result, it is quite multisensory,  engaging multiple cognitive pathways to enhance retention and is capable of suiting a wide variety of preferred learning styles. 

Engaging and colorful approach to history

History Quest eschews the traditional history textbooks for a narrative, storybook-like approach that is far more engaging and interesting for kids to hear or read, and integrates activities that personalize history by having students picture themselves exploring a particular time and place. 


Unlike traditional history textbooks that tend to heavily favor Western society and its history, History Quest explores a wide variety of cultures and people across the world and dives into their history and their influence on the world at large. 

Open and go, very easy and planned out

History Quest is pretty well scripted, providing all the directions, tools and guidance that a parent would need to complete a year’s learning in elementary history without very much lesson planning and prep required.

Touches on more than just history

With its mapwork and dictation exercises, History Quest not only helps students learn about history, but can also give them essential practice in other areas of their social studies, such as language arts (spelling and literature) and geography. 

Different options available for learning

History Quest is available in printed format, as a PDF and even as an audiobook, providing parents and students with quite a few options for learning.


Supplies not included

History Quest units include a wide variety of crafts and activities that may require parents to pick up quite a few supplies that may not be handy at home, such as clay pots and some more exotic spices and ingredients. 

Can involve an extensive book list

Although not strictly necessary to teach History Quest, making full use of the program (with Hygge and enrichment portions) can involve buying extra books and other materials that aren’t included in the course and that increase the overall cost of teaching. 

Who is History Quest Ideal for?

Charlotte Mason homeschools and other fans of literature-based teaching and living books

History Quest involves a lot of reading, and often uses high-interest, engaging books (including its main text, which is written as a story) to explore topics in history. 

As such it can be a natural fit to those following a Charlotte Mason program, as well as those who are fans of literature-based history teaching in general. 

Fans of hands-on, multisensory learning

History Quest can be great for fans of multisensory learning, as it includes a great deal of video and audio links spread throughout, and can be particularly good for tactile learners, as there are a great deal of hands-on history activities included in each unit, such as mapwork and crafts. 

Secular homeschools

History Quest is a secular history curriculum that approaches history without emphasizing any particular religious viewpoint. Consequently, its curriculum can be a great addition to a secular elementary homeschool.

Fans of Hygge learning 

Parents who want to help create a warm, relaxing and cozy homeschool atmosphere will find History Quest’s Hygge History Units can help them do just that and present an interesting, somewhat unique addition to any curriculum. 

Parents needing an open and go curriculum

History Quest is a well-scripted, open and go curriculum that guides parents through lessons without much prep work or any real assumption of previous knowledge or teaching experience. 

This makes it great for parents who are new to homeschooling or don’t feel comfortable with their own knowledge of history. 

Dyslexic students, those with learning difficulties and those who learn best through audio

History Quest is available as an audiobook. Combined with its wide use of online video and audio materials, it can be a great option to help those with reading challenges and those who best learn by listening and watching, rather than reading. 

Who is History Quest Not Ideal For?

Homeschools that want to teach through a particular faith’s lens

History Quest is a secular history homeschool curriculum that explores a variety of different religious and cultural beliefs and treats them as equally valid. 

As such, it may not be the best solution for those looking for a (single) faith-based history curriculum or those looking to approach history from a particular faith’s lens.

Students and parents who prefer more to the point, textbook learning

History Quest does involve a lot of storytelling and integrative activities, which can be a lot of fun and quite rewarding. 

Still, some students prefer a more top-down, straight to the point textbook approach to history, where they are presented with straight facts and dates that they can easily jot down and remember. Such students may get a little frustrated with History Quest’s approach.

Fans of more traditional history education

Some parents, too, may prefer to teach using a more traditional, chronological, memorize-the-events-and-dates-and-move-on approach to history. 

They may not feel as comfortable with History Quest and its approach.


Note: All prices current as of writing. All prices in USD. 

The core of History Quest is made up of a main text and a study guide, which are usually sold separately.

History Quest (Main Texts) – $22.99 each

History Quest Early Times Study Guide – $48.99

History Quest Middle Times Study Guide – $49.99

Beyond these History Quest books, the program also makes use of the Usborne Encyclopedia of World History with Internet Links

The price for this book depends on if its purchased new or used, where you buy it, but can be bought new for about $40-50 or so. 

Aside from the core texts, History Quest comes with a variety of optional books on its book lists, which can be bought new or used, and (of course) vary in price depending on where you buy them (or if you buy them). 

As always, it is worth checking out the latest prices as well as checking for any any special offers or discounts that might be available.

Is It Worth the Price?

History Quest is, in our opinion, definitely worth its price. 

It is a full history curriculum that offers a very engaging, narrative/story-based approach to history that we think students and parents will enjoy, and covers a wide range of cultures and histories from around the world, which gives students a broader perspective of history than can be found in many other history curricula. 

It is also a lot of fun to use, with lots of activities and crafts that students can engage in, and places a special importance on activities that personalize and connect students more deeply to history. 

History Quest is also quite easy to teach, with an open and go curriculum that requires very little in the way of preptime, aside from making sure that families have the supplies needed for craft days.

Importantly for homeschoolers, it is also quite flexible. Its lessons are fairly open and can be easily modified to accommodate a number of homeschooling styles and philosophies, and its spine can be expanded upon to suit different age ranges and abilities, or kept simple and lightweight to suit different budgets. 

Finally, with audio, visual and tactical components (as well as book and audiobook formats), History Quest is a very multisensory history program that can benefit students of all learning styles, and can be helpful for students with learning challenges as well. 

Bottom Line

History isn’t always every student’s favorite subject. For many, the thought of memorizing yet another list of dates and events can send shivers down their spine. 

With its literature-based teaching, narrative style, immersive and meaningful activities, multisensory approach and broad, multicultural outlook, History Quest can be a great alternative to traditional history textbooks that can teach younger students history without boring them to tears. 

Photo of Jennifer Keenes, a writer for the smarter learning guide

Jennifer Keenes is a writer and a new mom living in Florida. She studied education and, prior to becoming a freelance writer, worked as a substitute teacher at the elementary and middle school level. She is a big fan of the beach, working out and homeschooling her two daughters.