I've been very interested in classical education, but I'm really not familiar enough with it to know if it's for us, and if it is, how to switch to it. A couple of Memoria Press courses are the only real exposure I've had to classical Christian homeschool curriculum. I'm finding their lessons to be pretty enjoyable. Today, I'm writing about The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set (second edition) and 200 Questions About American History Set. These two courses make for a very complete American History course for middle school grades.
One thing we've enjoyed has been learning about some things in early American history that have happened right near us. It's exciting to read about the explorers and the fighting over territories we are used to seeing nearby or in our travels. Lake Champlain, Hudson, and Plymouth are all familiar to us.
The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set is a second edition and includes a Teacher Guide, Student Guide, and the book of the same title by H. A. Guerber which has been edited by Memoria Press. The text is a 211 page paperback book consisting of 85 chapters. Each chapter is very short, only 1-2 pages, and illustrated. Most of the illustrations are portraits of the relevant people covered by the chapter. Some of the pictures also show the various ships of the different eras, some of the architecture, battle depictions, and maps.
In the Student Guide boasts a two page spread for each of the 32 lessons. Most of the lessons cover three chapters of the included text. Here, "Facts to Know" highlights several of the most important points of the covered chapters. This is followed by "Vocabulary" and "Comprehension Questions." Mal is not much of a writer, so he really doesn't love this part, but the "Enrichment" section consists of mapping, timeline, and research activities to round out the lesson. These are a bit more fun (except for the writing assignments!) and we enjoy mapping various US units as a family. (Most recently, we mapped the Lewis and Clark expedition just because I had a hankering to do it. LOL They don't show up in this curriculum until chapter 50/Lesson 19, so it will be a while before we cover it again.) The Appendix boasts various maps and the text of important papers, such as the Mayflower Compact, Declaration of Independence, and the US Constitution.
For the mapping activities, I had Mal label the location with the lesson number and then highlight it. This helped him to focus on the individual places and see the progression of the mapping activity over time.
The 127 page Teacher Guide shows each page of the Student Guide duplicated with the correct answers filled in. It also has an appendix consisting of the maps, a 13 Colonies chart, and the same resources as the Student Guide. There are also four tests followed by the test keys.
This course covers American history from the Vikings to the Spanish-American War.
In the 200 Questions About American History Set, we found the paperback Teacher Guide and Student Book as well as the flashcards which closely align with the Guerber spine and Story of the World, Volume 4 by Susan Wise Bower (which is not included in either set) *or* Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework by Anne Zeman and Kate Kelly (also not included and is now out of print, though I was easily able to find a used copy through Amazon).
The flash cards are a nice sturdy card stock, but once you open the pack you are left with a *lot* of loose cards! I found a couple of card boxes and divided the cards between them. One box holds 150 numbered Drill Questions and the second box now holds 44 President cards, 30 Timeline cards, and the 20 Notable Quotes cards. The cards are about 2.5x3.5 inches. We went through review of all cards we had already covered every day that we did history. At first, I thought they'd never remember them, but after a few weeks, their recall had greatly improved.
Inside the Student Book of 25 pages is basically a book for writing the answers to all of the cards, which is a nice way to reinforce the study of the cards. It also holds the lyrics of The Star-Spangled Banner, Old Ironsides, and O Captain! My Captain!
The companion Teacher Guide, has a Recommended Texts & Weekly Schedule chart in the front. This has you completing both The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set *and* the 200 Questions Set in 34 weeks. This Teacher Guide also includes the duplicated pages from the Student Book and six tests and a five page final. These are followed by the answer keys.
*At this time and for this child* we were not able to follow this schedule. Completing *one* lesson from The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set each week was plenty. He's a bit on the immature side and lower on the intended grade range of 5th-8th, so I'm sure many, more prepared children could do the work that is recommended here. Following the same chart, we completed about 1/3 fewer chapters(ish) weekly. We are still working on Week 4 and have not made it to the first test, which he will take later this week.
Our homeschool history has been all over the place. We seem to have covered Pilgrims, American Revolution, some Civil War, and some westward expansion. We haven't studied much of the early explorers and this covered all of that for the review period. (Funnily enough, we were discussing some of those same explorers in the car one night, right before this review became available.) That was a fun addition to my generally random US history approach. "Oh, you want to learn about the Wright Brothers and then Columbus followed by some other random historical moment? OK." It's fun and they like learning in this manner, but I know the punks would be hard pressed to plot everything on a timeline. This homeschool curriculum has helped immensely with that.
This course requires a good deal of reading, though it wasn't overwhelming since the chapters are short. I chose this class for Mal and the other two punks listened along. There is also a lot of writing. I would say to take that into consideration when choosing this curriculum for your family. When *I* was a kid, I would have thoroughly enjoyed using The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set. It's a fun way to learn American history and the components can reach a variety of learning types.
Memoria Press has a forum that has fairly heavy traffic compared to many other curriculum providers' forums. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it is really a whole community.
In addition to this American history set, the rest of the Crew reviewed First Form Greek and the Illiad and Odyssey set. Click the banner below to see what they all thought.
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