American History is such an important thing to cover with kids, especially while homeschooling the logic stage (around grades 5-8). Thanks to Memoria Press for providing us with review copies of The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History Set. We’ve been looking them over and using them over the past several weeks, and I’d like to give you a peek into how these Classical Christian homeschool curriculum sets work.
The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set
This set is intended to be used by students in grades 5-8. It includes an edited, 211 page, softcover volume of H. A. Guerber’s The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic, as well as a 104 page softcover Student Guide and 127 page softcover Teacher Guide.
The text is a historical reader that combines Guerber’s two works. It has some teacher hints at the beginning, and then is divided into 85 chapters and a section with a poem about the Presidents of the United States. Each chapter covers a different topic, war, or important person. On just about every other page, there are black and white illustrations, maps, or photos to go along with the text, which brings it alive more than just plain text alone would. It makes an awesome read aloud if you have several children in the family, younger or older than the target age range. All of my bigger kids liked to sit around while I read it to my daughter, who is the one that has been completing the book work with me.
The Teacher Guide is laid out simply so it’s easy to just open and go. It is divided by lesson. Each lesson contains multiple chapters of the Guerber book. There are 32 lessons in all, which would mean that you could use this as a full year curriculum if you chose to. The Teacher Guide mirrors the Student Guide and fills in the correct answers, so it is all right there to use for grading student assignments.
Both guides contain each of the lessons, PLUS a rather large Appendix section. This section includes labeled maps, a chart of the 13 colonies, and several historical documents,such as a copy of the Mayflower Compact and the Emancipation Proclamation. The Teacher Guide also includes tests that you can administer to your students and test keys with the answers.
To teach with the materials, you would either read the noted chapters to your student or have them complete the readings themselves. Then you would have your students complete the different sections for that lesson in their Student Guide.
Each lesson follows the same format. There are 4 sections:
I. Facts to Know – This is where there might be important people, names of battles or places, and so on, along with a description of them. These would make great flashcards if you child learns best that way. You might have them create flashcards of the information with the name or person on one side and the description on the other.
II. Vocabulary – This would also make great flashcards, but the twist here is that they provide the vocabulary word, but the definition is blank. Students must fill in the blank with a definition or explanation for each word. These are words that they will have come across in their assigned reading, so you could have them use context clues or have them use a dictionary. We did a mixture when my daughter filled them out for her lessons.
III. Comprehension Questions – These are exactly what you would expect. There are 6-11 questions, and answer blanks, for students to fill in their answers. We treated this as open book, so my daughter was able to go back to the history reader if she couldn’t remember something specifically.
IV. Enrichment – This section includes activities that you can have your student do to further enrich their learning experience. There is suggested map work, suggestions of things to add to a timeline, research questions and assignments, composition assignments, references to things in the appendix, and so on. Each lesson has 1-5 enrichment options on there.
We treated this differently depending on how much time we had. Sometimes the enrichment work was fairly quick, so I had Grace do all of it. Sometimes we didn’t have the time, so I would assign her one or two to complete.
Scheduling the lessons is up to you. You could easily assign it as a 5 day program with reading the first day, and then one section in the Student Guide for the following 4 days. You could also easily scale it to 2-4 days as well, depending on what works for you. Since each lesson follows exactly the same format, you would just need to decide when you wanted your student to complete each section and assign it accordingly.
I love that it is easy to open and go with these lessons. At first, I was worried that it would be just TOO MUCH. After looking through it and using it for the past few weeks, I now appreciate how simple it is to schedule into our busy lives and ensure that she’s learning a lot through the student guide book work.
There are 4 tests, each covering 8 chapters. I’m not sure if I will administer those to Grace yet or not, but I need to decide soon because we’re almost to the 8th lesson!
This set seems to be a great deal for a full year course. At less than $50, you have every single thing you would need to teach and complete a logic stage American history course. The chapters the students read are short and simple. The book work is laid out on two mirroring pages per lesson, so they aren’t daunting when beginning a new lesson.
200 Questions About American History Set
Memoria Press also sent us another one of their American History resources for the same grade level. The 200 Questions set comes with a 25 page softcover Student Book, a Teacher Guide that’s about double that size, and a set of flashcards containing questions (and answers) that everybody should know about American history!
When I first saw this, I was confused on how I would be able to use it with the other set that Memoria Press sent me. However, I turned one page into the Teacher Guide and saw recommended reading and weekly schedules.
These booklets and flashcards are based off of information that you can find in the Guerber set we got, in Story of the World, Volume 4 by Susan Wise Bauer, and well as the out of print (but easy to find on secondhand websites) book Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework by Anne Zeman and Kate Kelly.
The Teacher Guide has it split up into 34 weeks if you follow their schedule. It gives assigned chapters to read from the first two books and which questions will correspond with the reading.
The questions in the Student Book that they’ll be filling in as they go fall within the categories of drill questions, timeline questions, notable quotes, and Presidents. I like that each question has exactly where they can find the answer noted right next to it. This makes it a wonderful American History study guide for 5th-8th grade students.
The books also contain copies of The Star-Spangled Banner, Old Ironsides, and O Captain! My Captain! for students to read and study.
The flashcards are a wonderful study tool, especially for kids who need lots of repetition to absorb the information. This would be a good way for older kids to study together, or to quiz them on the go or whenever you think about it!
The Teacher Guide also includes lots of tests that correspond with the reading and questions. They are divided by wars (Discovery of New World – French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, Westward Expansion and War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American War & WWI) and then there is a Presidents test (through Barack Obama as of the time of this post), and there is an American History final. The tests contain a mixture of matching, fill in the blank, and multiple choice questions. We haven’t made it to a test yet, but I am anxious to see how my daughter does on her first one!
American History from Memoria Press
Overall, I think this is an excellent middle school American History Program. If your child thrives on just doign the work and getting it done, this is great. I love that there aren’t a ton of weird projects to do or distracting busy work assignments. It is open and go, everything is laid out very intentionally and thoroughly. It is easy to schedule into our busy schedules and to even tweak a little bit depending on which enrichment activities I want to assign.
See what other Crew members thought of the Memoria Press materials they received by clicking on the banner below: