Wednesday, August 14

American History - A Review

Sometimes I don't read review descriptions as well as I should. I try, but sometimes it happens. Such was the case when I read about an American History review opportunity. I read about it and it looked lovely. I was in need of an American History program, so I said, "Why not?" and signed up.

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The box sat unopened for a couple weeks after it arrived. There just wasn't time. Finally, I opened up the box from the Notgrass Company and I was blown away. I nearly cried, and I'm not exaggerating. It was lovely, yes, but so much more. It wasn't just a book about American history it was the complete America the Beautiful Curriculum Package. In addition to that beautiful package, Notgrass generously added in the Lesson Review book (7&8th grade) and a Student Workbook (5th&6th grade.)

It is intended to be read by students in grades 5-8th, but I opted to do it as a read aloud and my 2nd and 4th grade daughters enjoyed listening along to lessons as much as my 8th grade son, as did I.
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History is my family's favorite subject. We've tried a LOT of history books through the years, and this one has truly impressed me. The illustrations are stunning. The content is God-honoring. The activities are thoughtful.

The package contains two spine books, one for each semester. It is designed to be completed in one year, with 15 Units in each semester. Each Unit contains five lessons, one per day. Samples are available online. Book 1 begins in the year 1000 and proceeds until 1877. Book 2 continues through Modern Times, specifically to the 2010 Senate election.

We opted to stretch it out over 2 years instead of one, supplementing with more literature selections.

Each lesson contains about 4-7 pages of text, with many illustrations. The last page of each lesson contains Activity instructions. Not every activity listed below is assigned for every lesson, and even then, the book stresses that they are optional. Here is a brief summary of the activities you'll find:
  • Thinking Biblically This section generally includes a scripture copywork or prayer notebook activity that is relevant to the lesson studied.
  • Map Study Students look at a particular map while reading many of the lessons and write or color in the designated Maps book when instructed.
  • Timeline Most lessons require an entry into the Timeline book. It is recommended that they read a few events surrounding their new entry each day.
  • Literature This most frequently refers students to the book "We the People", which contains excerpts from original source documents, speeches, songs, etc. It also assigns books from the literature package.
  • Vocabulary This section has students add 5 words from the lesson into their notebook, with definitions.
  • Creative Writing This section gives writing assignments such as creating a compact after reading the Mayflower Compact, reading a letter from a historical figure and then writing an imagined response letter, writing a campaign speech, etc.
  • Student Workbook or Lesson Review instruction - These optional books are chosen based on grade
Literature Package
This is sold separately from the History Package and includes:
  • The Sign of the Beaver
  • Amos Fortune, Free Man
  • Brady
  • Bound for Oregon
  • Across Five Aprils
  • Little Town on the Prairie
  • All-of-a-Kind Fmaily
  • Blue Willow
  • Homer Price
  • Katy
This book comes with the Complete Package and it is fabulous. This gives an excellent geography lesson to accompany the history being studied. If you have more than one student participating, you'll want to pick up an extra copy of this book for $8.95.



This book also comes with the Complete Package and it is equally incredible. It is simple, but it is easy to follow and really helps students understand the chronology of what they're studying. Extra copies of this book can be picked up for $6.95.

This spiral bound workbook is intended for grades 7 & 8. It contains 5 review questions for every day's lesson. These are mostly fill-in-the-blank, list, or directly answer the question. We did these questions orally. This optional book is available for $9.95

This spiral bound workbook is intended for grades 5 & 6. It contains reviews in the form of crossword puzzles, word searches, matching, etc. When there were multiple choice questions, I asked them. Otherwise we skipped this book due to lack of time. This optional book is available for $11.95.



The Answer Key comes with the Complete Package and it provides answers for everything in the Timeline, Student Workbook, Lesson Review book, and the vocabulary assignments in the main text.

Things I love:
  • The back of both core books contains a Family Activity for each unit of the books (one per week.) These include things such as making your own Navajo Flatbread, learning about Colonial Printing by making movable type, building a model of the Erie Canal, and much more.
  • It is intelligently written. It definitely seeks to bring glory to God and it does this without any manipulation of facts. It is up to date and honest about how things happened.
  • It does much more than just tell what happened. The books describe the landscape, introduces landmarks, gives biographies, and more. It describes music and its influence through the ages. It tells the story.
Things I didn't love:
  • It's a tiny thing, really, but the text frequently gives instruction to "See a photograph at right" or something similar. It is rather frequent and gets a bit annoying. It breaks up the flow of the interesting text and seems a bit silly since it is already obvious that the picture to the right relates to what we're reading.
The Complete Package is available for $99.95.  This does not include the Literature Package or the two optional books. It does contain the most beautiful American History program I've ever seen. It contains a history program that implements geography and a timeline and writing assignments, projects, Bible study, and more.

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