Saturday, August 10, 2013

America the Beautiful Curriculum (Schoolhouse Review)

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We have spent the past month using a beautiful US history program, America the Beautiful, published by the Notgrass Company  ($99.95). This program is designed for students in the 5th to 8th grades and includes:

  • 2 (Large) hardcover textbooks
  • We the People, a hardcover collection original source of journal entries, advertisements, stories, and speeches
  • Timeline book
  • Map book
  • Teacher Answer Key

Optional components include:

America the Beautiful is a textbook based program, making it easy to use.  There is no need for a teacher’s guide, because each day’s lesson ends with a list of assignments, printed right in the book. Typically, there are about 5 assignments, which may include Bible (which may include copying a verse or writing a paragraph), Map Study, Timeline, Literature, Creative Writing, or Lesson Review/Student Workbook.  It is suggested that 8th graders do all of the assignments and that younger children choose fewer.


The text includes beautiful illustrations.


Map Book has directions for marking and coloring on the facing page.


Timeline Book has an unique format. Some entries are already filled in and the student is directed to add additional entries. This format easily allows a sentence or two to be written about the event instead of just a label.


Activity Book includes fun puzzle-type activities for reinforcement. 

The America the Beautiful program has been easy for Emily to work on independently. She often tells me interesting things that she has read and I do discuss what she’s reading in each chapter, but it is set up well for independent work and it was fairly easy for her. Parents of younger children might want to read the chapter together with their children and might need to provide some assistance on some of the assignments, such as creative writing. I think that even 3rd-4th graders would be able to use this book, making it a good curriculum to use together with children of varying ages.

I like that literature selections are also included as part of the curriculum. Ten books are assigned throughout the year,  including Sign of the Beaver, Amos Fortune, Free Man, and Across Five Aprils. Quality historical novels always bring history to life and we’ve always done a lot of outside reading as part of our history studies.


I love:

  • The great illustrations and photos throughout the books.
  • This is a “meaty” and thorough program, covering a lot of material.
  • Everything you need is included. There is no need to dig up extra reading assignments or supplementary reading (although additional novels or biographies could be added if you wish.)
  • The fully integrated map, timeline, creative writing, and Bible studies.
  • The original source works and literature assignments.
  • The included chapters on National Parks and Monuments that help the student learn about our country. These chapters make ME want to do more traveling to see some of these wonderful places!

I didn’t like as much:

  • The main texts do read like textbooks. There was a lot of information on each page, presented in mostly simple sentences. It just didn’t read like a story like some other “texts” we have used and the writing style seemed more appropriate for elementary than for middle school students. (Emily enjoyed it and had no complaints, though.)

Overall, I would recommend Notgrass Company’s America the Beautiful program as an easy-to-use, engaging program, especially for children in the upper elementary grades.

Click the banner below to learn what other Schoolhouse Crew members thought about Notgrass America the Beautiful or the Notgrass Draw to Learn program.


I received this product free in exchange for my honest review.


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