America the Beautiful
What a surprise! I came home to find a big box containing the America the Beautiful Curriculum Package, the America the Beautiful Student Workbook, and the America the Beautiful Lesson Review on my porch. All these products came from the Notgrass Company. Actually, it was not a complete surprise. I am reviewing the products through the Old Schoolhouse Review Crew. Still, there were great things inside that box!
I want to apologize in advance for the length of this review. There is so much to share.
Before I move into the review, you should know about the individuals behind the products. The Notgrass Company is run by a family who began their homeschool journey in 1990. The family now publishes numerous biblically-based books for history, Bible, art, government, and other courses. They also offer additional materials. You will find the entire list on the Products by Subject web page.
America the Beautiful is a one-year history course designed for students in grades 5-8. It also includes biblical studies, geography, and language arts with literature reading. This course is more than dates and facts. It includes biographies, landmarks, and stories of daily life.
No matter what homeschool method you use you will most likely enjoy this curriculum’s format. It utilizes unit studies, textbooks, hands-on projects, and literature studies.
American the Beautiful Curriculum Package includes:
- America the Beautiful (2 books)
- We the People
- Maps of America the Beautiful
- Timeline of America the Beautiful
- America the Beautiful Answer Key
America the Beautiful
America the Beautiful book 1 and book 2 are the main texts. Book 1 covers America from 1000 to 1877, while book 2 covers the late 1800s to the present. There are over 1000 pages between the 2 books!
The curriculum consists of 30 units with a total of 150 lessons. The lessons are adaptable and can easily be extended to accommodate a 180-day school year.
It is refreshing to open a history book and find it begins with God’s beauty rather than the Pilgrims. In fact, the Pilgrims do not come into action until unit three. The first two units focus on the natives and the Spanish Explorers.
Some of the things included in the texts surprised me.
- The photos of Mammoth Cave – we visited the cave awhile back and were not able to take photographs.
- Sequoyah, the Creator of the Cherokee Syllabary was born in eastern Tennessee – I was born in eastern Tennessee.
- The beautiful images throughout the texts
- A chapter about baseball
- A biography of Alvin C. York – I am supposedly related to him and I made sure we studied that chapter.
We the People
Words from the Makers of America History
We the People is a collection of letters, poems, songs, newspaper articles, documents, and more. The arrangement of the articles and images is done in such a way that is appealing. Some of the things included in the book are:
- Items shown in the Sears and Roebuck Catalog
- Newspaper advertisement – Chocolate Candy Made on the Farm (The Hershey Chocolate Company)
- Press release from Eleanor Roosevelt
- Letter from President George H.W. Bush to his children
Maps of America the Beautiful
The Maps of America the Beautiful book contains all the maps needed for this American history course. I am pleased the directions for the mapping are in the Maps of America the Beautiful rather than in the textbooks.
Timeline of America the Beautiful
Timeline of America the Beautiful is a soft-cover book containing a timeline that runs from the year 1000 to 2019. Numerous lessons contain a simple timeline assignment. The student will write a statement on the corresponding date shown in the timeline. Also, there is enough room in the book to add special family memories.
America the Beautiful Answer Key
Answer keys are wonderful. There are times when my brain feels fried. Having an answer key nearby is an asset in those instances. America the Beautiful Answer Key contains the answers to all the lessons and quizzes.
As mentioned earlier, I also received the America the Beautiful Student Workbook and the America the Beautiful Lesson Review.
America the Beautiful Student Workbook
America the Beautiful Student Workbook is an optional purchase. It contains Bible verses, fill-in-the blanks, puzzles, word banks, timeline exercises, and more. A student is to complete a workbook page that corresponds with the daily lesson. In my opinion, the workbook is more appropriate for 5th and 6th graders rather than students in the 7th and 8th grades.
America the Beautiful Lesson Review
America the Beautiful Lesson Review is another optional purchase. This book is meant for the student to answer questions about the lessons and the literature read. It also contains the quizzes for each unit. In my opinion, this book is appropriate for 7th and 8th graders.
The questions on the literature readings appeal to me. It lets me know if my daughter read the entire book and how well she comprehended the material.
America the Beautiful has a language arts component. There are vocabulary, creative writing, and reading assignments. These assignments are not given each day. So, they are not overwhelming.
The literature assignments are reading excerpts from We the People and the 10 literature books. The literature books are:
- The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare
- Amos Fortune: Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
- Brady by Jean Fritz
- Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen
- Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
- Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
- Blue Willow by Doris Gates
- Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
- Katy by Mary Evelyn Notgrass
You do not have to use these exact books. In fact, John Notgrass gave me an alternate list, which I thought was more appropriate for my 8th grader. After looking at both lists, my daughter decided she would rather read the books in the list above.
We did refer to Sergeant York and the Great War edited by Richard “Little Bear” Wheeler for the lesson on Alvin C. York.
Each week there are optional family activities. Examples of the activities are:
- Build an Iroquoian Longhouse out of gumdrops. You will need 250 gumdrops and 300 toothpicks!
- Make flatbread.
- Build a tea crate.
- Paint a lighthouse using watercolors.
- Hymn singing
- Have a family road trip party with a Route 66 theme.
This may seem like a lot of components to the curriculum and may first feel overwhelming. The beauty of homeschooling is we can adapt the lessons to our children’s abilities and other situations. Charlene Notgrass includes a chart in the beginning of the America the Beautiful book 1 demonstrating how to adapt the assignments according to grade levels.
I was very happy to discover Charlene included lesson plans in the America the Beautiful book 1. What a blessing! I was able to hand the material to my daughter and she completed the assignments independently. We did adapt the lessons to accommodate her ability level.
My daughter was able to read a lesson, complete the mapping, add to the timeline, and do the workbook assignment in less than a half hour. The literature reading, creative writing and vocabulary take longer.
Just so you know. When my daughter says, “I like it”, I know I have a winner. I also really like this curriculum. It is easy to use, well formatted, and complete. We will continue using this curriculum throughout this school year.
The America the Beautiful products are available for sale on the Notgrass Company website. The current costs are:
- American the Beautiful Curriculum Package – $99.95 (6 books)
- America the Beautiful Student Workbook – $11.95
- America the Beautiful Lesson Review – $9.95
- America the Beautiful Literature Package – $59.95 (10 books)
You may read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members have to say about America the Beautiful by following the image link below.
As a Homeschool Consultant, I am always looking for ways to help other homeschool moms. Do you have a question or topic you would like for me to write about in my upcoming blog posts? If so, please let me know. I will be happy to add it to my list.