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America the Beautiful from Notgrass Company: Interesting History for Homeschoolers was made possible with a copy of the curriculum for review as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. We love this company so much that we are affiliates and use affiliate links in this post for your shopping convenience.
This past school year our family has been delving into American History.
For my younger boys, we relied heavily on living books along with some textbook reading. Some of the ones we tried using just fell short and were discarded along the way.
But, I was feeling a bit curious how we’d feel when given the opportunity to review Notgrass Company’s America the Beautiful Curriculum Package including the Student Workbook and Lesson Review book, particularly whether it would be interesting history for homeschoolers.
Interesting History for Homeschoolers: America the Beautiful from Notgrass
Since 1999, the Notgrass company has been developing Bible-based, easy-to-use homeschool curriculum that helps parents like you teach the heart, soul, and mind of your child. The Notgrass family had been homeschooling for 9 years before launching their company. Ray and Charlene Notgrass are joined with their children for writing the different books they now publish.
You will find curriculum for Art, Bible, Civics, Economics, English and Literature, Government, History and more from Notgrass. The majority of materials are for middle and high school students with some of them available as ebooks.
Written by Charlene Notgrass, America the Beautiful is a one-year American history, geography, and literature course designed for students in grades 5-8. The curriculum combines the flexibility and richness of a unit study with the simplicity of a textbook-based approach to history.
Daily lessons guide your child chronologically through American history, highlighting key events, people, and places. The curriculum package includes both volumes of the America the Beautiful texts, We the People reader, Maps of America the Beautiful, Timeline of America the Beautiful, and the America the Beautiful Answer Key.
Interesting History for Homeschoolers: Our Experience with America the Beautiful
When I first learned we might have an opportunity to review curriculum from Notgrass, I had a local homeschool friend tell me she hoped I’d have the opportunity to do so. She’d just fallen in love with one of the high school programs she’d ordered for her daughter this coming year and I suspect this mom prayed that I be blest with the chance to experience this company as well. From the moment I started flipping through the materials I was moved and filled with some regret for not having these in our hands at the start of the last year.
With boys that love the visual, America the Beautiful’s 2 hardback textbooks offer an easy to read layout and lots of images to illustrate the topics being covered. These books are truly gorgeous and inviting. We the People is a fabulous book providing lots of reading selections (original source documents) to fit with all the eras of American History covered in the text. And, unlike some textbooks, America the Beautiful covers way more modern history than I’ve seen in the past.
Rather than start at the start of the first book and go over time periods we’d already covered this past year, the boys started with WWII materials. Unlike some of the units, this section of the material did not have a suggested literature piece outside of the accompanying We the People book. I was pleased to see that many of the titles covered in the course of the year are ones that we’d already read.
I love that each lesson is laid out for the boys. I can have them do a minimal amount or really expand the learning with suggested family activities found for each unit at the end of the textbooks.
The unit introduction page provides a brief synopsis of what the student will learn as well as a list of individual lesson titles and checklist of what books are used in the unit. Individual lessons provide the opportunity to first think within a Biblical context (often looking at the Scripture quote ending the lesson) and then complete a map study, timeline, review questions or activity page (based on which optional book you might be using), and literature. Sometimes there is also the chance for some creative writing.
As we were using this program during our ‘summer’ break with short trips and family visits, we did not do every possible activity for the lessons. For the supplemental materials sent with our main America the Beautiful package, the boys shared the single copy of the Lesson Review book by writing their responses in a notebook.
One family activity stuck out, though, and will be done soon: “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” Who can pass up the opportunity to have a diner-style dinner and play a few classic road trip games without making the long drive?
Overall, our family has really enjoyed our time with America the Beautiful. This is a program I plan to keep hold of for the future, too. If my high schooler had not just finished American History and Literature this past year, I would seriously consider ordering their high school program for his use.