Using America the Beautiful

New Edition

Notgrass America the Beautiful

Since its release in 2010, America the Beautiful has wowed homeschooling families with engaging lessons, exciting illustrations, and a variety of activities for different learning styles. To celebrate the 10th anniversary, we are launching a new edition of America the Beautiful in 2020. The new edition will take a great product and make it even better.

The core philosophy and methodology will remain the same. In the first edition of America the Beautiful, some units had two lessons of the same type (Our American Story, God’s Wonders, Daily Life, American Landmark, and American Biography). We are changing the focus of some lessons and swapping out others so that each unit has one of each of these types of lessons. We are also standardizing the length of each lesson.

We have access to a broader selection of high-quality historical images and photographs, and we have had more experience with graphic design. We are making significant changes to the layout to further enhance the learning experience.

After updating Exploring America in 2014 and releasing Our Star-Spangled Story in 2018, we also want to make sure we cover certain people and topics in at least one of our American history courses. Part 1 of America the Beautiful will cover basically the same material at the same pace, with some changes. In Part 2, we are taking out five lessons from the first few units to make room for additional lessons at the end. A lot has happened in the last ten years!

Will the recommended literature be the same?

We are making two two changes to the literature list--the first book and the last book, as highlighted in bold below:

  • Indian Child Life by Charles Eastman (a book we are reprinting) - instead of The Sign of the Beaver
  • Amos Fortune: Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
  • Brady by Jean Fritz
  • Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen
  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
  • Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
  • Blue Willow by Doris Gates
  • Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
  • Katy's Box by Mary Evelyn Notgrass McCurdy - instead of Katy 

Will the components of each edition be compatible with each other?

No. Because of the changes we are making, you will not be able to use any of the new books with the old books or vice versa. We will make the consumable books for the old edition available for purchase as digital downloads.

Will the price remain the same?

We do plan to keep the price the same.

Look Inside

Sample Unit

Unit Comparison

See how the units in Our-Star Spangled Story, the two editions of America the Beautiful, and Exploring America line up.

Comparison Chart

How It Works

All of the instructions for how to use the course are included in America the Beautiful Part 1 and Part 2 so you do not need a separate Teacher's Manual. The daily instructions are very easy to follow. Most children will be able to follow the instructions on their own.

Each of the thirty units has five lessons. You can complete the curriculum in one year by doing one lesson per day for 150 days during your school year. While this course is designed for children in grades 5-8, younger children can listen to the lessons and participate in the family activities.

Your child can read the daily lessons on his own or you can read the lessons aloud. The lessons are richly illustrated with color and black-and-white historical photographs, illustrations, and artwork. At the end of each lesson is a list of about four to six activities. Students are not necessarily expected to complete all of these activities. You may choose which activities you wish to assign.

Depending on how many activities you assign, most students will need 45-90 minutes to complete one lesson. The types of activities vary from day to day. They include:

  • Thinking Biblically
  • Map work in Maps of America the Beautiful
  • Vocabulary
  • Entries in Timeline of America the Beautiful
  • Reading assignments from We the People (excerpts from letters, speeches, poems, newspaper articles, and other primary sources)
  • Reading assignments in the literature titles
  • Creative writing
  • Assignments in the Student Workbook or Lesson Review

One special family activity is assigned each week. These include craft and art projects, recipes, and other multi-age activities. Each activity is assigned with its related lesson, but you may do it any day of the week. You will need to allow extra time to complete your America the Beautiful assignments on the day you do the family activity.

What Parents Are Saying About the First Edition

Best History Curriculum

"We have been homeschooling for 9 years and hands down this is the best history curriculum we have ever used. It is user friendly, rich in content, and [my children] are learning history! This is a comprehensive history book, obviously designed and written by someone who loves history. It is very clear and balanced." (Mississippi)

Makes Learning About History Fun

"I cannot rave about this program enough. American history is something we have not covered consistently and he is learning so much already and loves the mapwork, lesson review and worksheets part of his studies. Kudos on a great, well-rounded program that makes learning about history fun." (North Carolina)

Great for Independent Learning

"America the Beautiful is great for independent learning. My son enjoys the variety of assignments, original sources, and projects. It keeps my son's attention and interest much better than other curricula due to the variety of assignments." (Georgia)

It's All Laid Out for You

"Of all the curriculum I've used this has been the easiest to follow and actually get done! I love the way at the end of every lesson it's all laid out for you: workbook, map assignments, timeline, Bible, creative writing. It's so great to see it all on one page and have no guess work at what we should be doing. Also, it's not an overwhelming amount of work. It's manageable chunks of reading and the assignments at the end don't take a lot of time to complete. I also love how you have included the biographies and God's wonders into the units." (Illinois)

Lesson Retention

"My 4th grade son is CRAZY for your America the Beautiful curriculum. It's the first time he's admitted to loving any of his individual school programs. I'm well pleased with his lesson comprehension and retention." (Florida)


Review by Cathy Duffy

Review at Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood

Reviews at Hip Homeschool Moms

About the Author

Ray and Charlene NotgrassCharlene Notgrass is a follower of Jesus and a veteran homeschooling mother. She received a bachelor's degree in urban planning from Middle Tennessee State University, where she met her husband, Ray, in the political science department. After graduating they were married in 1974. Ray and Charlene are lifelong history lovers and began writing homeschool curriculum in 1999. They enjoy classic literature, traveling together, and spending time with their children and grandchildren.

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