The Noah Plan® was developed over many years and is based upon the use of foundational books from the Foundation for American Christian Education (F.A.C.E.). Those books document America’s Christian history and teach what they call the American Biblical-Classical approach to education, otherwise known as the Principle Approach®. According to F.A.C.E., this approach was developed by drawing upon the classical form of education used in the United States at the times of our Founding Fathers as well as upon methods used in Scripture.
The Principle Approach includes a religious/historical philosophy that is based upon the idea that there is a geographical and chronological “Chain of Christianity®”, that is explained as “God’s use of individual men and nations to move the Gospel westward and to effect internal liberty in the civil sphere.” The Principle Approach advances the view that America is a Christian nation in that it was established on biblical principles in its governmental form.
From these historical and biblical premises, the Principle Approach derives seven vital principles. As the F.A.C.E. website explains, these principles “are fundamental to American liberty.” The Principle Approach philosophy presupposes that upholding these seven principles is the means to both preserve America’s Christian birthright of liberty and to form Christian character in children today.
The Noah Plan incorporates the Principle Approach philosophy and methodology into a manageable curriculum. It follows a challenging scope and sequence incorporating foreign language instruction throughout all grade levels; research papers in the elementary grades; and other high-level, challenging, academic goals. Throughout all levels, students are developing a biblical Christian worldview.
The Noah Plan uses many primary sources with a great deal of writing and discussion rather than traditional workbooks. Students create their own notebooks as they “4-R” each subject: research, reason, relate and record. Parents or teachers lead the educational process and must do quite a bit of preparation and reading to properly teach with this method. Because of this, parents or teachers need to prepare by using either Renewing the Mind for Teaching and Learning: Self-Directed Study in the Principle Approach (available as a book with two CDs or as a download) or The Noah Plan Academy, a more extensive training course on DVDs. Home educators should also benefit from the booklet The Noah Plan Homeschool Companion written by experienced home educators. This booklet has practical suggestions for implementing the program at home.
A number of other resources are essential for teaching the Noah Plan. These include the American Dictionary of the English Language, The Christian History of the Constitution (Volumes I and II), Teaching and Learning America’s Christian History, The Christian History of the American Revolution, and the King James Bible. Among other helpful F.A.C.E publications are Study Guide to the Christian History of the Constitution, The Family and the Nation: Biblical Childhood, The Bible and the Constitution, The Value of the Bible and Excellence of the Christian Religion, and America's Providential History: Teacher's Guide. Most of these items plus the Self-Directed Study are available as a digital library titled The Christian History Library in Libronix™ (available as a downloadable product from Logos).
In addition to the foundational books, you will need the seven Noah Plan Curriculum Guides that provide an overview of principles and teaching methods for history and geography, the English language, literature, reading, mathematics, art, and science.
All of the resources I have mentioned thus far are for all levels, but you also need the lesson plans for whatever grade level(s) you plan to teach. For kindergarten through third grade, these are available as spiral-bound books called The Noah Plan Lessons (one for each of those grades). For grades four through twelve, you need The Noah Plan Program Overviews for each grade level (on CDs).
If you are teaching more than one child, you should consider using the same level of Noah Plan Lessons or Program Overviews with them so that you can consolidate your teaching for Bible, history, literature, and science. You will still need to adapt math and English to each student’s skill level.
The lesson plan books or overviews provide details regarding other resources needed for each level. This might include teaching resources published by other companies such as RightStart Math, The Writing Road to Reading, and How to Teach Spelling. (RightStart Math and The Writing Road to Reading are used for kindergarten through fourth grade in the Noah Plan.) Lesson plans also list other resources you will need such as newspapers, maps, craft or experiment materials, a microscope, pictures of cells, etc. Reproducible grading and report card forms are included. Weekly lesson plans are presented in chart form in the lesson plan books for kindergarten through third grade. There is quite a bit of detail, often referring to the Noah Plan Curriculum Guides or other resources for further information.
Lesson plans are divided into subject areas for teaching as for traditional schools with individual class periods. However, there are elements of unit study with connections between history, literature, geography, and the fine arts within the lesson plans. Note that even math is taught from a biblical worldview, so while the program incorporates RightStart Math in the early grades, it includes lesson plans that apply the Principle Approach methodology to that program, studying the vocabulary of mathematics and investigating how the basic principles are revealed in mathematics.
The Noah Plan highly recommends fluency in foreign languages, so it directs parents and teachers to teach French beginning in kindergarten, Latin beginning in middle school, and an additional language in high school. While there are no lesson plans or instructions for teaching foreign languages, F.A.C.E. does sell Memoria Press's First Start French program and publishes their own French primer course: Mes Premiers Pas de Francais.
Likewise, the fine arts are to be taught every year, but they are not included in the lesson plans. Instead, F.A.C.E.’s The StoneBridge Art Guide should be used as your primary teaching resource for teaching the fine arts.
Novels are used in the Noah Plan, and F.A.C.E. has created their own study guides for many novels. These guides teach the seven principles of the Principle Approach where applicable. For example, the story of Pinocchio teaches the principle that “Conscience is the most sacred property.” The study guides often serve as miniature unit studies as they incorporate geography, cultural studies, religion, composition, vocabulary, and other subject areas into the study of literature. The study guides refer to the other core books listed above such as The Christian History of the Constitution, so they would be difficult to use apart from those resources. Some of the novels have companion Student Notebook Packets that make it easier for students to create their notebook pages.
Nation Makers: the Art of Self-Government is an important F.A.C.E. course to mention. Nation Makers (published in 2017) is a thoroughly revised version of the original book Rudiments of America’s Christian History and Government. While intended for use as a foundational course for teens, Nation Makers can also serve as a relatively concise source for adults who want to become familiar with the Principle Approach’s biblical, historical, and philosophical underpinnings.
The student text includes many extensive quotations from primary sources, and the only external source required is an essay on “The Education of John Quincy Adams” found in The Christian History of the American Revolution. While a PDF Teacher Planning Guide explains the design and methods of the course which is based on the Principle Approach, it has only a brief chart showing pages of the student text to be completed each week for a 36-week course. Assignments are presented within the student text, but teachers still need to read through the teacher planning guide to learn how to present the lessons.
Nation Makers doesn’t fit any traditional course category. The Teacher Planning Guide for Nation Makers explains that it "is not a history course although it imparts an important foundational understanding of all history. It is not a philosophy course although it deals primarily with worldview. It is not a Bible course although it inculcates Biblical principles for life-long discernment.” You can use the course for partial credit toward history, Bible, and philosophy, but it operates at a more comprehensive level to help form methods of thinking and learning while it also aims to inculcate particular beliefs. Carefully selected material buttresses F.A.C.E.'s unique interpretation of history and scripture as well as the principles derived from both.
When home educators first started teaching the Principle Approach years ago, it was an overwhelming job since they had to create so much of their curriculum on their own. The Noah Plan and the Nation Makers course have made the Principle Approach accessible to far more home educators. F.A.C.E. has been testing and refining their methods over the years, gleaning from those using it, and producing resources to make it much easier for parents and teachers to use. F.A.C.E. now also hosts an online community called the Principle Approach Commonwealth designed to deliver training and support for those using the Noah Plan and Principle Approach. The nine-session Philosophy and Methods of the Principle Approach: Foundations online teacher training course is featured as a member resource.
Reviews of some of the subject area guides
The Noah Plan Reading Curriculum Guide
The Noah Plan Reading Curriculum Guide by Martha Barnes Shirley is quite extensive in scope. It outlines a reading curriculum that recommends the Writing Road to Reading program and also uses the Bible for reading material. (Children’s versions of the Bible are used for the early grades.) It includes:
- explanation of the rationale and organization of the curriculum
- charts for each grade level showing purpose, objectives, scope and sequence, definitions, suggested teacher and student resources, and specific skills to be developed within sub-areas of reading through the eighth-grade level, with a “Reading with Reason” enrichment course provided for high school
- “Foundations for Teaching Reading” - teaching principles
- extensive how-to-teach information
- an appendix of recommended resources, reading lists for children, and reproducible forms
You might want to read my review of the Bible as Reader curriculum which is dependent upon this guide.
The Noah Plan English Language Curriculum Guide
The Noah Plan English Language Curriculum Guide by Carole Goodman Adams outlines a complete language arts program aside from the reading instruction already covered in the Reading Curriculum Guide. Maintaining consistent methodology, language instruction also utilizes the Writing Road to Reading methods for handwriting and spelling. More extensive than teaching guides for most language programs, this guide explains how to teach the foundations of English language, orthography (spelling/phonics, elocution, and penmanship), syntax (sentence structure and grammar), composition (including various forms of public speaking), and prosody (understanding the forms of and writing poetry and prose). One-page charts outline what is to be covered within each area for each grade level K-12.
The guide offers both background for teacher training and specific teaching strategies. I particularly like the presentation on diagramming and sentence patterns—one of the clearest I have seen.
F.A.C.E. also uses a series called Classic Grammar (downloadable books) as a companion series to the Noah Plan English and Literature Curriculum Guides. The Classic Grammar books further outline a unified approach for teaching the components of the English language and provide details for using the literature for each grade level.
The Noah Plan History and Geography Curriculum Guide
The Noah Plan History and Geography Curriculum Guide by Elizabeth L. Youmans focuses largely on the philosophy behind the Principle Approach. History has always been its strongest point within subject areas since the core books that present the concepts of the Principle Approach are heavily based upon history.
Most teaching information is background for the teacher with strategies for using timelines, biographies, source documents, and activities rather than specific assignments. Two-page curriculum charts for each grade level (K-12) show details of what should be covered for history.
About half of the book explains how to teach geography with curriculum charts for grades K-8. A great deal of factual information and map masters are included. Instructions show how to teach students to create accurate maps.
The Noah Plan Literature Curriculum Guide
The Noah Plan Literature Curriculum Guide by Rosalie June Slater is similar to the Reading Curriculum Guide in format. It charts purposes, objectives, etc., although it focuses on content more than skills as is appropriate for the study of literature. This guide is very helpful, but it is uneven in the amount of information given from topic to topic. For example, extensive guidelines help you teach Shakespeare while you are referred to other syllabi for teaching other classics.
The StoneBridge Art Guide
The StoneBridge Art Guide by Wendy Giancoli and Elizabeth Youmans was developed for a once-a-week art class at StoneBridge School. Time limitations and the nature of art study demand a different application of the 4R methodology, with less notebook work being the most obvious. Homeschooling parents might choose to expand the lessons given more time.
The guide presents the rationale for an art curriculum built upon biblical principles of art. It then translates the ideas into applications through a scope and sequence for grades K-8, sample lesson plans, background information for teaching, suggested projects, and a timeline with illustrations showing how artists fit into the model of Christianity’s westward movement. Articles at the end of the book provide additional background for the teacher on art plus the basics of the Principle Approach.