All American History
Publisher: Bright Ideas Press
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All American History
See the complete review in 101 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.
All American History (AAH) is a two-year, two-volume course in American History that might be used with students in grades 5 through 12. The two volumes are titled Volume 1, Explorers to the Jacksonians and Volume 2: The Civil War to the 21st Century.
This is a distinctly different United States History course that should work very well in homeschool settings. Developed through use in co-op classes, it easily adapts for use with individual children at home as well as for regular classroom use. Each volume stands alone, but you need both for complete coverage of U.S. History.
The content should be acceptable to almost all home educators since it is presented objectively and without editorializing in comparison to most other options used by home ducators. AAH purposely emphasizes social and cultural aspects of history as we often find in mainstream history texts for the elementary grades. However, it includes religious developments often ignored by other texts. God and Christianity receive occasional mention but not nearly as much as one finds in history books from Christian publishers such as BJU Press, A Beka Book, and Christian Liberty Press. Those wanting a secular text should be comfortable with the minimal treatment of religion in this book. However, the student activity book’s “For Further Study” suggestions and “Family Activity Ideas” in the teacher’s guide occasionally offer some more overtly Christian topics....
There are three components to the course for each volume: the student reader, student activity book, and teacher’s guide. The core book is the hardcover, student reader. Similar to textbooks, student readers present historical information accompanied by black-and-white illustrations. A brief summary of key points concludes each chapter....These are substantial books with 442 pages in the first volume and 557 in the second.
Questions and assignments are all found in the consumable student activity books. Here you find activity pages, map forms, review questions, “For Further Study” assignments, and “Images for Required Forms.” The last item is a collection of illustrations (primarily of people) and flags to be used on activity pages. The illustrations in the student activity book are intended to be beneficial to both visual learners as well as kinesthetic learners, providing cut-and-paste activities to keep their hands engaged. The “required forms” are one or more worksheets per chapter for students to complete that summarize key information from each chapter....
At the end of the activity book are Optional Forms for Further Study. These forms require students to do more in-depth research on topics such as a Native American tribe, a Revolutionary War or World War battle, or a United States President....
The course for each volume is broken down into four units, with eight lessons (chapters) per unit. The activity book has review questions for each lesson, but it also has a test at the end of each unit. An additional set of high school level tests are available.\
The teacher’s guides include reduced reproductions of all student activity book pages with completed answers and information to serve as your answer key for all but the “For Further Study” assignments. “For Further Study” suggested answers are included in the instruction pages for each lesson. Answer keys include lengthy suggested responses for open-ended questions which are very helpful for parents who cannot keep up with the student reading themselves.
The teacher’s guides have additional activity suggestions, recommended reading lists for three levels: grades K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. They also have checklists at the end of each unit to help you plan, showing which activities are required and which are optional. In addition, the teacher’s guides include masters of the optional forms and all of the images....
Part of the reason this course is so suitable for homeschooling is that while the ideal audience is probably junior high, it easily expands for use with younger and older students. Younger students listen to highlights and key ideas from the chapter presented by the parent. They read real books related to the time period....And younger students participate in creating timelines, map work, and other hands-on learning activities.
Bright Ideas Press has also come out with an optional All American History Junior for Volume I that gives students smaller amounts of material to read, adds five age-appropriate literature study guides, and provides alternative map work, activity pages, folder book projects, puzzles, and notebooking and coloring pages. This substitutes for the student activity book, but you still need the student reader and the teacher’s guide. (AAH Junior, Vol. I is available as a download, and Volume II should be available late 2012.)
It’s even easier with high school students. While you would choose from among the optional activities for students in elementary grades, older students would complete most of the optional activities, especially the For Further Study questions and the optional forms or something equivalent. The student readers cover most topics very briefly, so it is essential that high school students delve deeper into some topics....The biggest drawback for high school students is that they might need to complete both volumes in one year because of other credit requirements....
The books are very professional in appearance and presentation, but other than the covers, they are printed in black-and-white throughout. This should not be a big issue for most students.
Note that Year 4 of Bright Ideas Press’ new Illuminations is a wrap-around program that uses All American History as a spine. Illuminations integrates history, Bible, language arts, literature, science, fine arts, geography, and life skills. You might want to consider using AAH within the Illuminations Year 4 program.
- Learning Styles: all
Suitable for: Requires some group or one-on-one work and some independent work
Audience: grades 5-8, but extends to younger and older students
Need for parent/teacher instruction: moderate to high--less for older students
Prep time needed: minimal
Need for Teacher's Manual: required
Bright Ideas Press
PO Box 192
Magnolia, DE 19962
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