Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Schoolhouse Review: America the Beautiful by Notgrass Company

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I love, love, love history and Notgrass Company's America the Beautiful Curriculum Package makes my heart flutter.  From the moment I first took it out of the box, I was enamored.  It is simply a beautifully designed set of books that makes this history fanatic smile.  I have been BLESSED to use it with my children for the past few months and plan to continue its use this entire school year.

Written to students in the 5th - 8th grades, but certainly appropriate for students younger and older, America the Beautiful makes history easy to teach and enjoyable to study.  And did I mention how very easy it is to use?  You are ready to begin learning as soon as you open the book and turn the pages.  Mapwork, timelines, and literature are all included in your history studies.  Each lesson is clearly marked so that students can easily work on their own, if desired, although at our house, we prefer to read aloud and learn together.  It's what makes us tick.

The complete America the Beautiful Curriculum Package ($99.95) includes the following six books:

  • America the Beautiful Part 1 and Part 2 ($39.95 each) is over 1000 pages of history presented in two hard-bound books full of both black and white and color illustrations that will take your breath away.  Part 1 covers American history from 1000 to 1877.  Part 2 covers American history from the late 1800s to Present times.  These books are wonderful textbooks but even more wonderful, they will serve as marvelous additions to your personal library.  
  • We the People ($14.95)  220-page, hardbound book containing original source, on-the-spot history in the form of letters, stories, speeches, journal entries, poems, and songs.  These readings are real-life, breathing, living history and one of my favorite parts of the entire curriculum.
  • Timeline of America the Beautiful ($6.95) 57-page, softcover consumable timeline for students to color, read, and complete.  This book is saddle-stitched and of the highest quality.  You KNOW how much I love a timeline and this one is FUN.
  • Maps of America the Beautiful ($8.95) 61-page, softcover, saddle-stitched consumable {You'll want one for each child so they can each grasp geography like never before.}  Another one of my favorite components as students work through several lessons on one map -- marking, coloring, labeling -- really getting to know the details of our great country.
  • America the Beautiful Answer Key ($3.95) 55-page, softcover, saddle-stitched Mother's Helper, this book contains all of the answers to the student workbooks, timeline, lesson review AND vocabulary index for each chapter.  This is the book that makes life easy.  Don't you just LOVE that?

In addition, you have the opportunity to purchase either America the Beautiful Student Workbook ($11.95) for students in 5th and 6th grades OR America the Beautiful Lesson Review ($9.95) for students in 7th and 8th grades {although I've actually used both of these student books interchangeably with my 7th and 9th graders}.  These softcover, coil-bound workbooks offer 150 additional activities and review lessons (one for each lesson in the textbooks) for your students to make sure they've understood the materials presented.  The Lesson Review even has unit quizzes to test the studied material, if you are so inclined.

And that's not all.  There's also a Literature Package ($59.95) available that contains 10 works of literature designed to give your students an even deeper look into the time period of American history being studied.  We've finished reading The Sign of the Beaver and Amos Fortune:  Free Man and are looking forward to beginning Brady.

Complementary History, Geography, and Literature -- oh, my.  What more could a homeschool mom ask for?  The beauty of GOD's Master Plan woven throughout?  Why, yes, it's in here, too.  Truly this is one of the best curriculums I've seen in a very long time.  I am beyond thrilled that I can share it with you.
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How is America the Beautiful working at Long Leaf Academy?
This was the perfect step-into curriculum for the summer because we were already planning to do a comprehensive study of American History this school year.  I decided to begin right at the beginning of the text where author Charlene Notgrass begins by explaining that GOD created the land that would become America with a plan in mind.  HE put the swamps, marshes, mountains, and prairies right where HE wanted them and where HE knew they should be.  Now, I don't know about you, but it does my heart good to be reminded that GOD KNEW what would be before I ever was even thought of.  It is good to hold onto GOD's perfect sovereignty in history -- and in life.  Don't you agree?

Here's what we've been doing -- and what we'll continue doing throughout the year.  We are using America the Beautiful with the Princess (7th Grade, 12 years old) and the Boy Scout (9th Grade, 14 years old).  We begin each study session as a read-aloud time together.  Yes, my children COULD read the daily assignments on their own and YES, it would be easy for them to understand and follow instructions to complete the work, BUT . . . I am holding them close and enjoying them as long as I can.  AND I am learning right along with them.

America the Beautiful is divided into 30 chronological units and each unit is divided into 5 lessons.  Students will complete 15 units a semester and study the ENTIRE spectrum of American History in one year.  Each lesson has 5 comprehensive activity options that help to make sure students really grasp the material.  These activities range from scripture study to help your child think Biblically to map studies, literature, and creative writing.   I read each day's lesson to my children (10-15 minutes) and then assign an assortment of activities for that lesson.  Each child has a 3-ring binder to hold completed vocabulary, scripture studies, and creative writing assignments.

Once we've completed a few of these assignments each day, my Boy Scout moves to computer work and my Princess begins working on the corresponding pages from the Student Workbook and Lesson Review.   These workbooks contain short answers, fill-in-the-blanks, crossword puzzles, matching, and unscrambling word activities that review what we've just read.  I like that we are seeing benefits in spelling and listening skills.  And since we haven't used formal testing on a large scale, the Unit Quizzes are offering a gentle introduction to "real world" high school for my Boy Scout.

As a homeschool mom for over 20 years, Charlene Notgrass knows just what elements make for the perfect homeschool curriculum.  The ease of use is phenomenal.  Everything is perfectly laid out and each lesson is clearly marked with what is needed.   Teachers (or students) can simply open the book to the correct lesson, read the information presented, turn to the correct mapping activity in Maps of America the Beautiful, complete the timeline assignment in Timeline of America the Beautiful, read the literature selection, complete optional workbook pages, AND do a family activity (craft, paint, cook, taste, sing) all from the comforts of your family table.  Notgrass Company really GETS IT.  They are a family.  They are homeschoolers.  They want to help.  Isn't that what we all need?

Notgrass Company is a family business that aims to help you teach the heart, soul, and mind of your child through quality resources that are Biblically-based.  They are definitely spot-on with the America the Beautiful Curriculum Package.  PLEASE do yourself and your family a HUGE favor and check these resources out.  You're going to LOVE what you find.  I guarantee it.

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 I was given the opportunity to use and review the America the Beautiful Curriculum Package from Notgrass Company as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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1 comment:

  1. I am glad to read that this curriculum is a good fit for your family. Blessings on your journey!

    Mary Evelyn McCurdy
    Notgrass Company


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your heart with me!