Thursday, November 9, 2017

Exploring History with Notgrass (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

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Exploring History with Notgrass (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

After so many years of homeschooling, I've had plenty of opportunities to try curriculum and explore all kinds of resources, so during this Blogging Through the Alphabet tour, I'm highlighting some of the many homeschooling resources that have been stand-outs. Sometimes it will be a walk down memory lane as I share something we enjoyed many years ago, and sometimes it will be something we're using currently. Sometimes I'll focus on a specific curriculum, and sometimes on a subject area. And I imagine I'll have to be a bit creative with a couple letters of the alphabet! This week I'm looking at my favorite subject, History, as presented by one of our favorite publishers, Notgrass.

If you've spent much time here on my blog, you may already know that our go-to curriculum for high school history has been Notgrass. All of my students have used Exploring World History and Exploring America, and I've been recommending it for as long as we've been using it. Well, I should clarify that Kennady, my youngest, has not yet done Exploring America, but she will be doing it next year. Both of these high school level courses are actually worth three full credits when a student completes them just as they are laid out. The history credit is obvious, but there's also a full English or Literature credit and a full Bible credit, if all of the work is completed. This can be pretty much an open and go curriculum that doesn't require extra lesson planning and scheduling from the teacher. The textbook tells the student what to read and what the assignments are, so if you want to use it exactly as is, you'd have everything you need to complete those three credits. It's recommended that a student plan to spend two to three hours per day on the course.That said, we seldom use curriculum exactly as it's laid out, so here's how we've adjusted it for our homeschool.

This year Kennady is studying World History from a Biblical worldview perspective using Exploring World History. She's using a different schedule than what my boys followed when they did this course. The boys did it in one year, but Kennady is doing it over two years. She started it last year, but with the addition of several other studies (often add-ons of something we were reviewing), I knew that it would be pushing too hard to get the entire course done. So partway through the year, we pulled back and I tweaked the calendar so that she could complete the first half, which we called a credit in Ancient and Biblical History; and complete the second half this year. This year we'll also add on a few things to make sure that it is still a full credit worth of World History. We don't typically do all of the writing assignments given in the book, because we've always had a separate Composition course, but we do all of the Bible component of the study. For the Literature component, I assign all the essays and poems but only some of the novels, and we wind up with a half credit in Literature. My boys didn't like to read anyway, and my daughter likes to read but has a very heavy course load, so relaxing the amount of reading required makes it a little more manageable for them.

The curriculum consists of a textbook in two volumes, along with In Their Words, a book of essays, speeches, poetry, and excerpts from larger works of literature. The course begins with Creation and Bible history as well as other ancient cultures and progresses through until the modern day. There are 30 units of five lessons each, and in general the first four lessons of each unit focus on History, and the last one is a Bible lesson. There's an optional Quiz and Exam Book to go along with the study, and we do use that. It contains some comprehension questions for each of the lessons and for the novels, and midterm and semester exams. In Their Words includes original documents like the Magna Carta and Luther's Ninety-five Theses, hymns and poetry from many authors, excerpts from literature such as Homer's Odyssey and works by Shakespeare, and many others.
Exploring History with Notgrass (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

The book of essays, speeches, and poetry is called The novels that are assigned during the course relate to the time frame being studied, either because they were written during that time, or written about events during that time. This gives the study of literature more context, and it helps to tell the stories of the historical events in an engaging way. The reading list included below is a combination of the novel lists from the older and newer editions of Exploring World History, with the titles from the first edition in parentheses.

Exploring World History 

(Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis)
The Cat of Bubastes - G.A. Henty
The Art of War - Sun Tzu
Julius Caesar - William Shakespeare
The Imitation of Christ - Thomas a Kempis
Here I Stand - a biography of Martin Luther - Roland Bainton
(Pilgrim's Progress - John Bunyan)
A Tale of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
North and South - Elizabeth Gaskell (Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen)
The Hiding Place - Corrie ten Boom
Bridge to the Sun - Gwen Terasaki
Cry, the Beloved Country - Alan Paton (Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad)
(Eric Liddell: Pure Gold - David McCasland)
Animal Farm - George Orwell
The Abolition of Man - C.S. Lewis


Exploring America is laid out the same way, combining US History, American Literature, and Bible teaching into one course. Each of the thirty units consists of five days of history lessons, with the fifth being a lesson in Biblical worldview relating to the historical events covered. The text presents the history of the United States, from early exploration and settlement up to the year 2006 in a clear and balanced manner, but from a perspective of Christian faith. Readings assigned in American Voices include the Mayflower Compact; writings from Thomas Paine, James Madison, Frederick Douglass, ; sermons and speeches from Jonathan Edwards, Patrick Henry, Booker T Washington, and Martin Luther King Jr; hymns and poems by American writers; and speeches and inaugural addresses from several Presidents. We do use the optional Quiz and Exam Book with this course as well. It  has a set of comprehension questions to complete at the end of each lesson, and a set of questions about each novel, as well as quizzes for the end of each unit and midterm and final exams.

Exploring History with Notgrass (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Exploring History with Notgrass (Blogging Through the Alphabet) on Homeschool Coffee Break @

Here is the list of novels that goes with Exploring America, and again I have put the older edition titles in parentheses.

Exploring America

The Scarlet Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
Narrative of the Life of David Crockett - David Crockett
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass - Frederick Douglass
Uncle Tom's Cabin - Harriet Beecher Stowe
Company Aytch - Sam Watkins
(Little Women - Louisa May Alcott)
Humorous Stories and Sketches - Mark Twain
(Up From Slavery - Booker T. Washington)
In His Steps - Charles Sheldon
Mama's Bank Account - Kathryn Forbes
(Christy - Catherine Marshall)
Miracle in the Hills - Mary T. Martin Sloop and LeGette Blythe
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
The Giver - Lois Lowry

Although my children have had different learning styles and interests, the Notgrass history studies have appealed to all of them and have been a constant in our otherwise very changeable homeschool curriculum line-up!

Do you have a favorite history course? Or perhaps like us, you have one constant when your other curriculum tends to change from year to year. Leave a comment and let me know!

Blogging Through the Alphabet again? Yes, I'm taking the challenge, along with several other Crew members, including our three co-hosts for this round - Amanda at Hopkins Homeschool, DaLynn at Biblical Womanhood, and Kirsten at DoodleMom's Homeschooling Life. The link is open from Thursday to Wednesday each week, so join in if you'd like!

This post is linked at Blogging Through the Alphabet for Week 5, Letter E.

This post is part of a #breakthrulinkup at Breakthrough Homeschooling - Join us! This post is also linked at the Encouraging Hearts & Home Blog Hop hosted by Apron Strings & Other Thingsat Homeschool Blog & Tell at The Homeschool Post; and at the Homeschool Linky Party on the Homeschool Review Crew blog.

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Joanne said...

Sounds like a wonderful curriculum; I love that it gives multiple credits in one.

Kirsten West said...

Wow that looks like a great curriculum! We do history by reading as close to first person accounts as possible. We sit together every day and read history, literature, and politics and I try to keep them aligned so that everything is approximately the same time period. Still, I will keep the Notgrass in mind! Thank you for sharing! And thank you for linking up with us!!

Amanda H said...

I have always wanted to check these out. Now I want to get my hands on them even more! Any plans to sell them ;-) Thank you for linking up with us!

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