Monday, August 12, 2013

TOS CREW Review- Notgrass America the Beautiful

 photo notgrass_logo_zps18b23376.jpg America the Beautiful from Notgrass Company is a one year American History curriculum that combines history with geography, literature, bible and  creative writing for grades 5th-8th.  In 30, 5-lesson units, author Charlene Notgrass teaches students about American History from year 1000 to the present while weaving the Bible throughout.

We love History in our house.  Really we do.  But sometimes I have felt bogged down by the information presented and discouraged at the lack of Christian convictions and beliefs in the curriculum choices out there. I had heard several friends talking about the Notgrass curriculum, so I jumped at the chance to review this package.

The America the Beautiful Curriculum Package we received includes:
America the Beautiful- 2 full color, hardback books just under 1000 pages!
We the People- A hardback book with 150 primary source documents, from first hand accounts to legendary documents.
Maps of America the Beautiful- 30 maps that correspond with the lessons that your child will color and label while learning.
Timeline of America the Beautiful- An illustrated timeline that your child will add facts to from their readings.  Some facts are already written for their benefit.
America the Beautiful Answer key- For you the teacher, to ease the burden of checking answers to the lesson reviews, timeline, and workbook assignments.
In addition, we also received two supplementary items, the America the Beautiful Student Workbook, which has daily activities from crossword puzzles to fill in the blank activities and the America the Beautiful Lesson Review, which can be used at any time to test comprehension and retention of the material taught in America the Beautiful.
There is also an America the Beautiful Literature package  that contains 10 books to be read throughout this program.

About the program and how we use it-
 Though you can do this program with your child, it is designed and written to be read by the student himself.  That being said, we began by reading the lessons daily out loud together.  I would read one paragraph then my son would read the next.  Taking turns this way just made it more fun for us.  A few weeks ago we transitioned to him reading it on his own and doing all the work independently, but honestly I have missed not only the time spent together, but also the knowledge I was gaining so we will be going back to doing at least the reading together.  Yes, I am learning too!  I should have payed more attention to the teacher when I was in school it seems!
The lessons are clearly marked and filled with black and white as well as beautiful color pictures.  Each lesson is then followed by a list of activities for you to pick what to do that could include-
Thinking Biblically- A reading assignment from your Bible and often either something to think about or write in a notebook.
Map Study- This section directs you to a corresponding map to label and color.
Vocabulary- Words to look up and define from the chapter.
Literature- Directed reading in the We the People volume or assigned book reading.
Creative Writing- A fun activity to get your child writing.
Student Workbook or Lesson Review- Tells you the corresponding page activity for this lesson.  
At the end of each unit, after 5 lessons, there is also a family activity suggested that encourages something a little more hands on from the unit and helps the child use what they have learned to teach fellow members of their family.  Activities include making a longhouse, making Navahoe Flatbread and making Colonial Marbles and learning how to play the game.  Fun stuff and not so labor intensive that moms want to run screaming from the room.  Just saying.

What we thought about this program-
We like it!  Notice the present tense?  We are still using it and after much thought and prayer I have decided to walk away from the history program we have been using for YEARS and use this instead.  I like it that much!
I like how organized it is.
I like the beautiful books and pictures.
I like that my son gets to have a little fun in his worksheets but still learns the importance of original documents.
I like that God and faith are woven into practically each paragraph.
I like that quality Literature books are included.
I like that a student can do the program independently with little to no help from you if that is your desire.
I LOVE that my son reminds me it is time to do History!  Isn't that, after all, the sign of a good program?

America the Beautiful curriculum package- $99.95
America the Beautiful Student Workbook- $11.95
America the Beautiful Lesson Review- $9.95
Literature Package- $59.95

Many fellow CREW members reviewed this program as well as an art program by The Notgrass Company.  You can see their thoughts by clicking on the banner below.


  1. So glad you found something new. It is hard to walk away sometimes :) Thanks for sharing your review!

  2. We have swapped too! I LOVE this program!!

  3. Neat curriculum. I hadn't ever heard of it before but I might need to look a little harder because this might be something good for Kyle after his All American History this year!

  4. sounds like a really neat curriculum. Very focused on USA history correct? So when I want to study the USA I"ll be looking into this.

    annette @ A net in time

  5. Thank you for reviewing our curriculum, and thank you for homeschooling!


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