Using America the Beautiful

America the Beautiful Takes You There

How It Works

Notgrass America the Beautiful

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. At the beginning of each weekly unit, an introductory page gives an overview of the unit, a list of the lessons, and a list of what additional books the student will be using while studying that particular unit. Following the unit introduction are five daily lessons, one to be read each day. 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 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 and the literature titles (see list below)
  • 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.

Author Charlene Notgrass Explains the Curriculum

An assignment checklist and other supplemental downloads are available. Click the button for details.

Bonus Downloads

Types of Lessons

Each unit typically includes one lesson in each of the following categories:

  • Our American Story - A lesson telling major events of the time period of the unit. These lessons include, for example, "Thirteen American Colonies," "The Civil War," and "President Roosevelt and the New Deal."

  • God's Wonders - A lesson about an amazing creation God placed in America that relates to the unit's time period. For example, students learn about Yellowstone after the Civil War, when it became a National Park; and they learn about the Black Hills in the unit on the 1920s, when work on Mount Rushmore began.

  • An American Landmark - A lesson about an important site in American history that relates to the unit's time period. For example, students learn about The Gateway Arch during the unit that covers Lewis and Clark, and they learn about The Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island during the time of major immigration around 1900.

  • An American Biography - A lesson about a person who lived during the time period being studied. For example, the Cherokee man Sequoyah is featured in a unit on the early 1800s, and baseball star Jackie Robinson is featured in the unit on life after World War II.

  • Daily Life - A lesson about how certain people lived and worked during the time period of the unit. For example, when studying the colonial period, students learn about colonial craftsmen and merchants, and when studying World War II, they learn about life on the home front. Several lessons also look at daily life for Native Americans in different parts of the country.

The Books Used

The America the Beautiful Curriculum Package includes the first six books listed below, enough for one child to complete the curriculum. If you are using the curriculum with more than one child, you can purchase additional consumable books, including Maps of America the Beautiful, Timeline of America the Beautiful, and either the Student Workbook or Lesson Review.

  • America the Beautiful Part 1
    This book has 75 lessons beginning with life in America before Europeans came and continuing through the first years after the Civil War.

  • America the Beautiful Part 2
    This book has 75 lessons beginning with America's expansion into the lands west of the Mississippi River and continuing to modern times. It also includes an index to the curriculum.

  • We the People
    A collection of 150 original journal entries, newspaper articles, advertisements, poems, songs, letters, short stories, speeches, and other historic documents from American history.

  • Maps of America the Beautiful
    A collection of 30 maps drawn especially to accompany this curriculum. Your child will often refer to a map while reading a lesson in America the Beautiful and do activities on the map at the end of the lesson.

  • Timeline of America the Beautiful
    This is an illustrated timeline of American history from AD 1000 to the present designed specifically to include facts learned in the lessons. Some facts are already printed on the timeline. After most lessons, your child will add an event mentioned in the lesson to the timeline.

  • America the Beautiful Answer Key
    Includes answers for the Timeline, Student Workbook, Lesson Review, and the vocabulary assignments included in the main text.

In addition to these core books, we offer two optional books to help measure your child's understanding of the material. Most parents choose one or the other for each child, though you can use both for one student if you wish.

  • Student Workbook
    A book of crosswords, find-a-words, matching, codes, drawing assignments, and other handwork activities which review and reinforce information learned in the daily lessons. This book is designed for students in 5th and 6th grades, but it is suitable for older children who enjoy these types of activities.

  • Lesson Review
    A book of daily lesson review questions, literature review questions, and weekly quizzes. This book is designed to help parents measure their child's comprehension of the material. This book is designed for students in 7th and 8th grades, but it is suitable for younger children who prefer this type of review.

The Literature

Ten works of literature are assigned in the America the Beautiful curriculum to give your child a richer perspective on the various time periods studied. The student is given 1-2 weeks to read each book, with 1-3 chapters assigned each day. The first five books go with Part 1, and the next five books go with Part 2.

America the Beautiful Literature

  • The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Units 4-5)
  • Amos Fortune: Free Man by Elizabeth Yates (Units 6-7)
  • Brady by Jean Fritz (Units 9-10)
  • Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen (Units 12-13)
  • Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt (Units 14-15)
  • Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder (Units 16-17)
  • All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor (Units 19-20)
  • Blue Willow by Doris Gates (Units 21-22)
  • Homer Price by Robert McCloskey (Unit 25)
  • Katy by Mary Evelyn Notgrass (Units 29-30)

Look Inside

Part 1 Part 2 We the People

Maps Timeline

Student Workbook Lesson Review

Answer Key

What Parents Are Saying

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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