Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Notgrass Company {Review}

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I have been familiar with the Ray and Charlene Notgrass family of the Notgrass Company for a number of years now and have had their materials on my wish list. When I was given the opportunity to review their America the Beautiful Curriculum Package, I almost cried with happiness! What a tremendous blessing for my family! I have been encouraged by the emails I receive from them and have cried with them when their family has gone through heartache. I love that their children, now adults, are still very much involved with the family business.

This curriculum was created for grades 5-8 and is to be used for one school year. It covers history, geography and literature, and the package sells for $99.95. If you are using it with more than one student, additional map books can be purchased for $8.95 and timeline books for $6.95.

Here is the run-down of what I received for this 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 TimelineStudent WorkbookLesson Review, and the vocabulary assignments included in the main text. 

America the Beautiful 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. ($11.95)

America the Beautiful 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. ($9.95)

These 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. (Note: I did not receive these books.)
  • 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)

All of the above literature books can easily be found at your local library, except  for the last one which can be purchased directly from the Notgrass website.

Materials needed for this curriculum:
  • pencil
  • coloured pencils
  • notebook paper
  • three-ring binder
  • plus additional material for the family activities (found at the end of Unit 1 and Unit 2)

This curriculum is exactly as the title states, beautiful! There are 30 units in all, with five lessons per unit, for a total of 150 lessons. Each lesson includes factual information and beautiful photographs. At the end of each lesson, there is a Scripture related to the lesson, as well as five activities from which to choose. These activities include:
  • Thinking Biblically
  • Map Study
  • Literature
  • Creative Writing
  • Student Workbook or Lesson Review
We are not usually textbook fans, but these are truly a treasure. This is not a typical textbook-based program. It has the simplicity and straightforwardness of a textbook, with the added beauty of a rich unit study. We began reading Unit 1 and the children and I are enjoying all of the facts from our country's history, which starts back before the typical 1492. Because the children have a bit of Native American heritage, both Choctaw and Cherokee, the beginning lessons have been very interesting and personal to them. The lessons are engaging and interesting. A typical daily lesson takes 40 minutes to an hour per day.

Take a peek at these page examples . . .

Activities for Lesson 5 . . .

One of the family activities from Unit 1 that we are looking forward to doing . . .

Map activity for Lesson 34 . . .

Student Workbook Lesson 34 . . . 

Lesson Review Lesson 34 . . .

And a quick word about the book entitled We the People. Wow! What an incredible resource this one is. It includes poems, songs, hymns, advertisements that date back to 1903, speeches, and much more. I just had to highlight it, because it is a fantastic bonus to accompany these lessons!

I am planning to use America the Beautiful with my grade 6 and grade 8 students in the next school year and cannot wait to dive in and learn along with them!

Request a Notgrass catalog here.

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To read what other TOS reviewers thought of this curriculum, as well as their Draw to Learn curriculum, click the banner below.


1 comment:

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