Thursday, May 15, 2014

Golden Prairie Press: American History Curriculum {Schoolhouse Review}

One of our favorite companies for learning about History is Golden Prairie Press.  Amy Puetz has put a lot of hard work into developing solid Christian curriculum for learning History.  She has graciously provided the Schoolhouse Review crew with downloads of Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum.

Before I get started telling you how great this curriculum is, I want to start out telling you that American History is one of our family favorites.  Living in Georgetown, South Carolina we have access to so many resources that make this history come alive for our family.  We never hesitate to use a new program for American History lessons, as each one has taught us something completely different and Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum has been no different.

As mentioned in the title, this is a digital history program.  It is designed to be used by students in grades 1-6 but can be used with older students as well and adapted to fit many educational styles.  We used this program with my Kindergartner, 4th and 6th grader together as a study.  It worked well for all of them.

The program isn't exhausting but it is thorough.  For us, it was more of a review than a lesson but we are learning more each day from using it.  Since this is a year long program, we did not complete the entire program while working through the review but we did work through several lessons.

This program does not need to be used daily but it can be.  It is expected to be used several times a week for a thorough lesson plan and to complete the program on schedule within the year.  Lesson length will vary per lesson.  Most lessons will take an hour to complete but some may take longer while others may take less time.

Included in your program package are the following materials:
  • Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 1
  • Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 2
  • Additional Materials CD which contains videos, coloring pages, artwork, history timeline and more.
  • Historical Skits
  • Sing Some History CD
  • Listen to Some US History MP3 CD
Each of these pieces come together to create an interesting experience in American History.

Heroes and Heroines of the Past is the core of this history program.  It contains multiple selections from throughout American History about people and places that have importance to the creation of America itself. The program begins with Colonization and continues through modern day times.

There are two parts to the curriculum.  The first part is designed to be used for half a year and the second part is designed to follow and be used the second part of the year, making the curriculum last for a full years period.  Of course this will depend upon how quickly you choose to complete your lessons.  We chose to work a few times a week which extended our lessons but if you completed several lessons a day, you'd finish the program much quicker.  The entire course contains 30 lessons total.  Lessons 1-15 are found in Part 1, while lessons 16-30 can be found in Part 2.

Each part of the Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History curriculum is also broken down into two portions.  The first part of the lessons are designed to be used with the early grades of 1st and 2nd grades.  The second part of the lessons are designed to be used with the later grades of 3rd through 6th.  We chose to use the second part, even with my Kindergartner.  The grade lessons contain the same information and stories but the grade 3-6 level is more intensive, containing more information for a more in depth lesson.  I did not expect my K'er to follow along through all of the lessons but she actually did surprisingly well and kept up.

The lessons all follow a similar format: there is a story on a person or place of interest all related to some bit of American History.  Often in these readings, there will be a word that students may not know.  These are defined within the text for students.  These definitions can be found within parenthesis.  There are also quotes and scriptures related to the lessons found throughout the text that can be turned into copywork for students to use to enhance their lessons.

To expand lessons, you can purchase an additional Literature Pack for Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History through Amy Puetz and Golden Prairie Press.  Recommended for this curriculum are:
  • Ten Great Adventurers by Kate Dickinson Sweetser
  • Ten Girls from History by Kate Dickinson Sweetser
  • Heroines of the Past Bible Study by Amy Puetz
  • Two Little Americans in Spanish California by Frances Margaret Fox
  • Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott
The readings in the Heroes and Heroines of the Past text are followed by questions and answers, like many textbooks contain.  There are only a few and answers can be found at the end of the text.  We chose to do these verbally but you could have your children write out the answers if preferred.

There are also activities and additional resources suggested to help expand the lessons.  These bring the lessons to life for students.  One of our favorites was building a Tee Pee.  The lesson suggested using brooms but we were able to use sticks cut and found from our surrounding woods.  My children worked together to build their Tee Pee and they enjoyed playing in it.  I hope to expand on Tee Pee building with them very soon.

We also used this time to take a look at some of the Historical Skits that were made available as part of this curriculum.  The kids enjoyed playing many parts in those various skits and they enjoyed singing along to the Sing Some History songs as well.  These additional tools really made learning these lessons fun for us together.  It was also great bonding time.

To round out our lessons with this study, we took a field trip to Charles Town Landing in Charleston, South Carolina.  Charles Town is a South Carolina State Park that represents the site of the first English settlement in South Carolina.  Our visit to this location really brought all we had been learning about the early days of American History to life.  The kids were able to see statues of the Indians for themselves, to see arrowheads and baskets, as well as table settings from the time period, housing and even the ship, Adventure, which is a replica of early American ships used during early settlement times.  Charles Town is one of our favorite places to visit and I knew it would be a great asset in expanding and bringing Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum to life for my children and I.

To purchase Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum by Amy Puetz of Golden Prairie Press you can visit the website.  This curriculum is available for $98.99.  The additional Literature Pack for Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History is available for $59.99.

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