America the Beautiful by Notgrass Review

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Review by Bridgette Taylor

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product in return for my honest review. I was not financially compensated for this post.  All thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own and not influenced by the developing company and/or its affiliates in any way. 

If you are looking for a complete American history curriculum for your 5th-8th grader, then you will want to consider “America the Beautiful” by Charlene Notgrass. This wonderfully thorough and vibrantly colorful curricula boasts one of the most in-depth American history studies offered in the home-school arena. The one-year program comes with 5 books in all.

“America the Beautiful” part 1 covers life in America from the years 1000 – 1877 (America prior to the European invasion through the Civil War). “America the Beautiful” part 2 covers the late 1800’s (America’s westward expansion) to the present. “We the People” is an exciting addition to the curriculum, providing over 150 examples of original, American newspaper articles, advertisements, journal entries, songs, poems, short stories, speeches and more.

The last 2 books are “Maps of America the Beautiful” offering 30 maps for your student to refer to and color in during lessons; and , “Timeline of America the Beautiful” which allows your student to keep a fully illustrated timeline from the year 1,000 to the present. Two optional workbooks may also be purchased at your discretion. “America the Beautiful Student Workbook” is full of fun supplemental work like crosswords, drawing prompts, and word searches for your 5th and 6th graders. While “America the Beautiful Lesson Review” offers daily lesson review, literature review, and weekly quizzes for your 7th and 8th graders. In addition to these optional workbooks, the only other things not included in the curriculum package are the literature materials. These are easily found at your local library and are also available for purchase through the Notgrass Company. 

Each of the 30 units are done chronologically; 1 unit at a time with 5 lessons per week. This makes a 150 day school year, leaving plenty of time for field trips and activities. Each unit starts off with an overview of what will be learned that week. This includes the topic of each daily lesson as well as which of the other supplemental materials will be used. Typically, one daily lesson each week will cover one of the following aspects of the weekly topic “Our American Story,” “God’s Wonders,” “An American Landmark,” “An American Biography,” and “Daily Life.” At the end of each daily lesson there is a list of several activities that your student can complete. These include things like Biblical thinking, maps, vocabulary, timelines, literature, or reading the original pieces from “We the People.” The literature and activities are easily student lead, and take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half to complete. 

What’s most exciting about “America the Beautiful” is how richly things are illustrated. Each lesson page is full of actual photographs, drawings, paintings, and sketches of historical figures and places. Not only are the pages illustrated with amazing detail, but the supplemental materials provided are full of facts that will bring your student to a better understanding of how and why decisions in our nation’s history were made.

“America the Beautiful” is easy to follow, full of detailed facts, richly illustrated, historically accurate, and most of all, it‘s fun! Notgrass Company has, once again, provided your student with a well-rounded American History education that is vastly superior to those in it’s same class. I highly recommend “America the Beautiful” by Charlene Notgrass; and, when you are finished with this one, be sure to check out “Exploring America” by Ray Notgrass to continue the adventure.

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