I will always have a very special place in my heart for the "America the Beautiful" curriculum from Notgrass Company. This was one of the review products that I received during the part of the summer when we were not “officially” doing school. There were only a couple of these, and as part of the“bribery” offered to my daughter for doing some extra school during the summer (which I will admit to participating in), I told her that I would do the chapters as a “read aloud”, which she enjoys a great deal. Since she became an independent reader so early, I truly haven’t done this as much as I should. Even though I know that reading aloud to your child has next to nothing to do with how well they read on their own. AND since she is capable of working so independently, I allowed her to work alone much more this year than we had done in the past. Not for everything, but enough that when we sat down to begin this history program, I noticed it. As far as learning how to work independently….for many areas, that is a good thing. It is an excellent skill to develop. And I’m not sorry we did it that way.
However, what working with her on "America the Beautiful showed me is that I missed a lot this year.
And that is going to change this year. She will still do all of her reading independently for our spine curriculum. She will still do her piano, math and typing independently. But everything else we will do together. And since she was also taking science for the last two years as an outside subject, we get to add that back in too. I am looking forward to the additional time I will be truly teaching her this year, as opposed to “administering” her subjects. There will be a time for that when she is older. For now? I am going back to how we did school when we first started. This year was valuable. Both for teaching her some extremely important lessons in working alone, and for teaching me that I’m not ready to turn as much over to her as I did.
So I know that story wasn’t part of a review of the mechanics of the curriculum, but it is a part of my story with this product. I wanted to show just how much something can bless us in ways we had no idea we needed. And all in the form of two textbooks and accompanying materials.
Now…back to the reason we are here.
I was so excited to be chosen for this review! I thought the product looked absolutely amazing on their website, and I was very grateful to have something I could use to add more depth to the American History part of our learning.
Want proof as to how excited I was?
I posted this pic on Facebook when the mail came!!!
And I wasn’t the only one! For several days, I watched Crew members put similar shots up that showed their happy mail day as well! We were all so thrilled to receive such a beautiful product from Notgrass Company. Notgrass Company is a Bible-based homeschool curricula company that is family owned and operated since 1999. They are veteran homeschoolers, so they are fully aware of the challenges homeschoolers can sometimes run into when searching for that perfect curriculum. They have resources for Art, Bible, Civics, Economics, English/Literature, Government and History.
"America the Beautiful" is a one-year American history, geography and literature course designed for students that are 10-14, or working at a 5th – 8th grade level in history. The curriculum package retails for $99.95, and includes:
- “America the Beautiful” Part 1 (452 pages with both color and b/w illustrations)
- “America the Beautiful” Part 2 (572 pages with both color and b/w illustrations)
- “We the People” (220 pages with b/w illustrations)
- Maps of America the Beautiful)
- Timeline of America the Beautiful
- America the Beautiful Answer Key
“America the Beautiful” Part 1 has 11 units with 5 lessons each, totaling 75 lessons, beginning with life in America pre-European arrival, and continuing through just after the Civil War. Part 2 picks up beginning with America’s expansion west of the Mississippi River and finishes in our modern times.
“We the People” is a collection of 150 original journal entries, newspaper articles, advertisements, poems, songs, letters, short stories, speeches and other historical documents from American history. These were especially fun to read…a few of the ones we read offered a glimpse into what life was really like from the perspective of someone who had lived it.
The map collection contains 30 maps drawn specifically for this curriculum, with activities at the end of the lessons, and the illustrated timeline is from AD 1000 to the present, again designed to accompany this particular study of our country.
The answer key gives you, the teacher, everything you need to work with the timeline, the optional student workbook and lesson review, as well as the vocabulary assignments in the main text.
"America the Beautiful" Student Workbook contains super fun crosswords, word hunts, drawing assignments and more for your 5th and 6th grade students (or older ones who enjoy this fun stuff!). It retails for $11.95.
"America the Beautiful" Lesson Review includes daily review questions for the lessons covered as well as the literature assignments, and weekly quizzes. This book is targeted for your 7th and 8th grade students, however I found that my younger student handled it quite well. This book can be purchased for $9.95.
There are many books that are assigned in the curriculum to give your child a deeper understand of the material. The list of books can be seen here, and if you don’t enjoy waits at the library, or searching on Amazon for a book, you can purchase it for $59.95. This was not something included the package sent to us, however, we already owned and had read the first two books, which were part of the six weeks of the curriculum we reviewed.
This curriculum has a little something for everyone. As I mentioned earlier, we were doing this as a read-aloud, so my daughter kicked back beside me on the bed so she could see all the pictures of what I was reading about, and we just immersed ourselves into the stories of our country’s earliest settlers. At the end of each lesson, there are a number of activities listed that are pertinent to what you learned in that lesson. If you and your family enjoy notebooks, there are suggestions as to what might go into one, that at the end of the year would reflect everything you have learned. If a map is associated with the lesson, it will note where to find that. The same goes for the timeline or workbook/lesson review. Literature is found in the form of the selections from “We the People” or the optional reading selections recommended for that time period.
We did some of the workbook and lesson reviews orally, except for the ones that involved puzzles and things like that…Zoe just loves those! And the maps are not completely filled out in one lesson…as far as we got in the book, each lesson did a little bit here and there on a few maps. Here is an example of one below:
This was our first homeschool experience with what seemed like a true textbook on the outside….but even though I was not 100% sure what to expect, I could tell right away I was going to love it. It actually seems more like a textbook that had a lot of “living book/unit study” feeling all wrapped up in it. Most textbooks I grew up with did NOT have readings such as those found in “We the People”, or family activities at the end of the book to celebrate completing each unit.
For our next school year, we are working through the 1900’s to the present, so I will be putting this on the shelf for a while. As soon as we are back to the time period where the rich curriculum begins, I will be returning to it. I also plan to check out "Uncle Sam and You", a curriculum designed to teach children ages 10-14 about the way our country works. I am thrilled to have learned about this company and their wonderful resources!
Want to see what our other Crew members thought? You can read more reviews on our Crew blog, as well as see how many of them used their “Draw to Learn the Life of Jesus” art program for all ages.