Faith, Family, Love and Reviews

Crew Review: Notgrass America the Beautiful #hsreviews #grow4christ

on August 14, 2013

Notgrass American the Beautiful curricula review

I’ve been asked “when are you going to teach American History”?  I often reply with as soon as we work our way up to it – but now with the Notgrass Company’s American history curriculum I can honestly say – we’re studying it now.  I have been looking at this curriculum ever since it was recommended to me and seeing it at a convention I attended and I was very happy to receive the America the Beautiful Curriculum Package ($99.95) along with the Student Workbook ($11.95) and Lesson review book ($9.95).

I’m not sure if my words will be able to do this curriculum justice, as it’s a truly wonderful history curriculum geared towards grades 5th through 8th or ages 10 to 14.  However, I’m using it with all three of my children, ages/grades: 11/6th,7th, almost 9/4th and 7/2nd and it works beautifully for all of them, with each doing different levels of work.  My 11 year old uses the student workbook and the lesson review book to give her more in depth work after doing the readings and other activities.

The text books are split into two parts and the We The People book, the texts are beautiful hard cover books with the America the Beautiful having both black and white and full colored pictures, We The People has black and white illustrations.  Part 1 covers American from 1000 to 1877 and Part 2 covers westward expansion through modern times with 75 lessons in each part.  We The People has 220 pages filled with 150 source documents from American history and gives more understanding of that time period.

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There are five lesson types: Our American Story, God’s Wonders, An American Landmark, An American Biography and Daily Life.  In the Introduction there are how to use guides as well as a suggested activities per grade outline for grades 5, 6, 7, and 8th.  My 11 year old is doing the suggested activities for the 8th grade student while my other two are doing approximately the 5th grade work.  Each unit has an introduction then an outline of each lesson (there are 5 lessons per unit for a Monday through Friday schedule), as well as which books are needed (We The People, Maps of America the Beautiful, Timeline, etc).  Since we only school four days a week I just keep going versus relying on finishing a unit a week and this has worked great for us.  Each lesson tells you the lesson number, which maps you’ll be using, and which lesson type it is and there are up to eight activities per lesson/week and I decide which ones we do and skip, depending on the child.

The activities are thinking Biblically assignments and could be as simple as reading some verses and discussing how they apply to writing a verse and a prayer, creative writing, vocabulary, a once a week family activity that gets even the dad’s involved, literature (using We The People or the literature package), timeline, map and the student workbook and lesson review book assignments.  The lessons are fairly short in length, less than 15 minutes and the activities are also easy to follow and complete, although an older student may need more time if they are using the optional books.  I have a binder for each child that all their assignments go in except for maps and the timelines, this makes it easy to look back at what we’ve learned so far.

Picture of my oldest’s map work in the America the Beautiful Map book.

The mapping book is such a great component to the curriculum and it’s easy to find what map is needed and what needs colored in.  Each lesson has a specific map (or three) that the child will turn to and find the corresponding lesson number on the facing page and follow the directions for coloring or making an area.  The picture above shows the coloring of the different tribal regions of Native Americans, waves for water, and circling of the major bodies of water.  All of my children enjoy the mapping activities, they are fairly simple but are great for learning geographical areas.  Also, is the timeline book (of which I didn’t take a picture but you can view a sample on the Notgrass website), the lesson activity will tell the child if an entry needs to be made and if so what they need to write.  The child simply turns to the date listed in the activity and writes on those lines in the timeline book – taking time to look at the pictures and the events that come before and after (lesson numbers are included on the timeline area for easy reference).

Daughter had to draw in pictures to complete the lesson review.

My 11 year old has been doing the work in the student workbook and the lesson review – she really enjoys the student workbook as it has fun activities to make her think and recall information in the lesson.  Crosswords, drawing activities, find a words and other fun activities make reviewing the lesson memorable, aiding in recall as well as giving a great way to document the work done through the curriculum.  The lesson review book is a book that gives a few questions about each lesson and the student answers them, it also includes weekly quizzes.  Both of these books are spiral bound and the lesson review is geared for the 7th and 8th grade student while the student workbook is geared for the 5th and 6th grades.

I put these books in my oldest daughter school box so she can chose to do the readings and assignments on her own, this allows me to grab them when she is done and use the answer key to check her work – if she misses something we go over it together and discuss why she missed it.  We have had a great time using America the Beautiful and will be using it through the rest of our school year, so I can finally say, my children have had American history – I’m already looking forward to cycling through it again since my youngest is only 7 and in 2nd he’ll need a refresher course in a few years.  If you’d like to read what other parents are saying about America the Beautiful or Draw to Learn visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog.


A 3-fire longhouse.


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All three of the children’s 3-fire longhouses.













4 responses to “Crew Review: Notgrass America the Beautiful #hsreviews #grow4christ

  1. MJ says:

    Sarah what a informative and well written review. You are getting me excited about learning American History.

  2. Thank you, Sarah, for reviewing America the Beautiful. We’re delighted that you and your children are enjoying it!

  3. […] such a wonderful couple.  If you remember I reviewed last year and we are still using their America the Beautiful curricula.  I hadn’t intended to seek out review products at the convention, my business cards are no […]

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