History is my absolute favorite subject to teach. I was actually working on my Secondary Education History degree many years ago, but therapies and trying to keep up with our little family has kept me from ever finishing it. I love visiting historical landmarks and parks. We have studied Ancient History and the kids, unlike me did not enjoy it as much....but we still covered it.
Now it's time to learn American History, and so I was super excited to get the opportunity to review America the Beautiful curriculum package ($99.95) from Notgrass Company.
America the Beautiful is a full year American History and Geography program for Ages 10 - 14 or Grades 5 - 8. This Christian based program covers the earliest residents of North America through the Modern Millennium. Daily lessons help students through important events and key people and places.
Each book contains 75 lessons that are not only packed full of information, but also lists what the student needs to complete in the student workbooks, Timeline book and Maps book that were specifically created to go along with the America the Beautiful textbooks.
Being a history fanatic, I would love to be able to follow a daily history lesson plan. But with our kids various disabilities, we have a 2-3 day a week history lesson plan. I then use the other days to tie in what we have learned with maybe a history movie or documentary, even some type of game. America the Beautiful is set up so that students can do a lesson each day, and finish in one school year. But you can easily break this down into longer sections, which is what we chose to do. I wanted to spend more than 1 day on Vikings. So we chose to spend a few more days on that topic. It will take us a little longer to finish, but I think the kids will retain more with the reinforcement of a few days.
At the end of each lesson, suggested assignments are given for the students. Depending on your student's level, you can have them do any number of these. The suggested activities give wonderful detail, so a student can work independently very easily with this system.
Included in the America the Beautiful curriculum package ($99.95) are the textbooks America the Beautiful 1 and America the Beautiful 2. You can view examples of the material presentation by visiting the Notgrass website and click on sample unit.
Other products included are:
This is a collection of over 150 journal entries, newspaper articles, advertisements, songs, speeches, and so much more to give your student a real look at the past. I really like this book, it is like having a portable museum in our home. It contains lots of "extras" that I like to look at and always seek out while I am at a museum. The nice things is that instead of searching out these extras for each lesson, it's already provided.
Included also is a Timeline of America the Beautiful. This paperback book gives space for students to fill in the events and people they are learning about from each lesson. I really like that all the information is contained in an easy to store booklet. At the end of the books, the students can then go back and see how much they have learned. Some information is pre-filled in for them also.
Another awesome resource included is Maps of America the Beautiful. The maps helps the students see where events took place. The map of Native American tribes has really helped Lydia to see where they lived, as she filled the information in. There are 30 maps that students can use right along with their reading. Again.....the information is all provided. I don't have to worry about looking up a map or printing the information, everything is already for me. We just simply follow the instructions at the end of each lesson. You can view examples of this book by visiting the America the Beautiful samples link.
We also had the opportunity to try out the
This Student Workbook ($11.95) is meant to give students extra "fun" materials to go with each lesson. These include drawing assignments, crossword puzzles and so much more. This material is definitely on grade level for Ages 10 - 14. Lydia had difficulty using this book, but Joey enjoyed the material. This is supplemental, and the assignments are given at the end of each lesson.
Another supplemental book is the America the Beautiful Lesson Review ($9.95) provides daily question review for students. Depending on your student's learning style, these questions provide great review opportunity for the student....and it also helps parents to measure whether their child has retained the information they read that day. It is designed for Grades 7 & 8, but may be used by younger students also if they do well with answering written questions.
The America the Beautiful Student Workbook and Lesson Review workbooks are sold separately, and one for each student would be needed. They are not necessary, but I thought the America the Beautiful Lesson Review workbook has some great comprehension questions. Even though Lydia doesn't write well yet, we verbally did these questions and I wrote the answers she gave me.
There is a LARGE amount of information included in each lesson. To date, the America the Beautiful curriculum from Notgrass Company has really been one of the easiest to use and most thorough History curriculum that I have found. We have been using for a few weeks now, and I have played around and found the right amount of material to do with the kids each week.
Because of the large amount of in-depth material presented, I broke down usually a lesson over two days. The Native American units we did 2 units a week on, because we did some online bead projects to go along with the information we were learning. We looked up a few more pictures about housing and watch some historical documentaries. I wanted Lydia to have a little more information about the Vikings, so we spent 3 days working on more reading material and a historical documentary on the Vikings.
I generally read the Lessons to the kids as a read aloud, since our kids are at such different levels. Lydia used this more than the boys, and since she enjoys workbook work and also needs some work on maps, I had her complete the map activities. The map activities generally took about 15 minutes max, and that was on a low attention/high distraction day. Very simple, and very informational. We would discuss the vocabulary terms that Notgrass suggested we highlight. I really like that they give a list of suggested words, one less thing for me to worry about. I would then discuss the comprehension questions from the Lesson Review book and Joey would work on the Student Workbook.
I like the "fun" activities that the Student Workbook presented for Joey. It made history more fun for him.
There is so much information included in these textbooks, and the illustrations have been a favorite for Lydia. I really enjoyed the full-colored pictures. There are pictures that we would have had to visit a large museum to enjoy. They provided a great perspective for Lydia while she and I were reading about the Native Americans of our country. She could see, not just hear how they lived. And I didn't have to look it up or print it. Everything was already there for me!
The "extra" information provided in the reading of We the People has been such fun. It is material that I don't ever remember having the opportunity to learn when I was in school.
We will continue using America the Beautiful from the Notgrass Company. The ease of use and the information covered has been a great fit for our family. I will also be recommending the use of this program to others!!
The Schoolhouse Review Crew was given the opportunity to try not only the America the Beautiful History package, but also other products from the Notgrass Company. Please take some time to see how their educational products worked in their homes.