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May 14, 2014

Heroes and Heroines ~ A Golden Prairie Press Review

Author and homeschool graduate, Amy Puetz (pronounced Pitts) is the owner of Golden Prairie Press.  She seems to have a passion for history and likes to show how God's hand was at work at many points throughout it.  Amy wrote and compiled Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum.  I received this review opportunity through the Schoolhouse Review Crew.
$98.99 for the complete package.
For grades 1-6.

Golden Prairie Press Review

Heroes and Heroines of the Past American History Parts 1 and 2
These PDF books are ginormous.  Part one is 388 pages and part two is a whopping 408 pages.  While a lot of the text is broken up into the two grade levels, much of it is suitable for both levels.  Each of the 30 week-long lessons is well laid out with readings first followed by questions and various activities.  The suggested activities are mostly included right in the curriculum components and you're directed where to find them amongst all the resources you'll be downloading.  Answer keys are at the back of each book.

Historical Skits ebook
This fifty page PDF contains nineteen short skits covering from Columbus in 1492 to life at home in 1942.  The scenes have anywhere from 2-9 characters to bring history to life.

Sing Some History CD
Twenty historical songs are included on this CD download.

Listen to Some US History MP3 CD
A collection of twenty speeches, poems, sermons, and documents are read on this CD download.

Additional Materials Downloads
This download contains the timeline pages, historical art, and other fun additions like the George Washington snake game we played.

You do not need these books, but you might like to have them.  I was surprised to find that I actually had a couple of them in my hard drive.  You never know when some freebie or other you download might come in handy!
  • Ten Great Adventurers by Kate Dickinson Sweetser, Edited by Amy Puetz
  • Ten Girls from History by Kate Dickinson Sweetser, Edited by Amy Puetz
  • Heroines of the Past: Bible Study by Amy Puetz
  • Two Little Americans in Spanish California by Frances Margaret Fox
  • Jack and Jill by Louisa May Alcott
There is also an optional Heroes & Heroines coloring book to help keep little hands busy while you read.

How we used Heroes & Heroines of the Past...
I lean a bit more toward unit studies and immersion for many subjects.  This year, most of our American history studies have been about the American Revolution.  I had sections 8-11 printed at the local copy center and spiral bound them at home.  I also had the George Washington snake game and the American Revolution Timeline page printed.

The majority of the reading sections are divided into 1st-2nd grade (1 page) and 3rd-6th grade (2-4 pages).  After looking it over, I decided the boys wouldn't have any real trouble comprehending the extended information, but their attention spans might mean reading and discussing the lesson over two days.  We do the lessons of three or more pages in two days.  Anything shorter than that, we cover in one day.  Some of the lessons are actually 1st-6th grade, so I really didn't do anything different on those days.  Those reading sections are broken down into smaller topics, some of which are only a paragraph or two.  This made it easy to break up the lesson whenever we wanted.

At the end of the lesson there were questions to discuss and writing topics.  We do plenty of writing, so we didn't use most of these, though sometimes we used the topics as discussion points.  A variety of other activities often followed these.
  • Timeline
  • Songs
  • Games
  • Literature
  • Recipes (including invisible ink!)
  • Geography
  • Dictation or copywork
  • Historical art
  • Memory verse (We didn't use these because we are memorizing verses for co-op and Rangers.)
  • Act it out (from Historical Skits), and more
That looks like a lot, but since these activities were not all in every lesson, it didn't take a long time to complete.  

The first song in this section was Liberty Song.  The words and music are in the text as well as a little history about the song.  The song is five verses long, so I got to show the boys how to read a song with verses.  We listened to Liberty Song on the Sing Some History CD download.  Next, we read the lyrics and discussed the meaning of the song.

We made a small pan of tea biscuits (half batch) using one of the included recipes.

Playing the snake game was simple and took little time.  It was similar to chutes and ladders.  If you landed on a space with a star, you were either sent ahead, sent back, or lost a turn.  I just found three different buttons as tokens and used the die from another game.  Unfortunately, I was reminded there are some boys who need to practice good sportsmanship.

It just dawned on Xav that after all his gloating about being ahead, he was not going to win.
The literature suggestions were for 5th-6th graders, but we did read some of them, as I had a couple of the books.  And the Listen to Some History CD download included famous speeches like Patrick Henry's infamous "Give me liberty or give me death!" and a reading of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.

The art in this section included the Declaration of Independence by John Trumbull.  One thing I liked about this piece was the accompanying line drawing which labeled each of the people in attendance at the signing.  Throughout the text, many unfamiliar names, towns, and other words were followed by a pronunciation guide.  I've used some unit studies or curriculum that did not have that and I'm left to stumble over words, unsure if I've just misled the boys.  Little touches like these really make a difference.

Amy Puetz encourages the use of extra-curriculars as well.  We added Liberty's Kids videos whenever one seemed to suit the subject.

We've been learning about the American Revolution all year, but I think using this curriculum and looking back at what we have already covered is helping to make things stick.  There is plenty of reinforcement of the lesson through the activities and literature.  The boys understand more about the events as seen through the individual people.  We'll be turning to this curriculum again and again as we continue to work our way through American history.  I love that this can be worked through over the course of a year or used again and again to bolster our current topic.


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