My daughter is a big fan of history. She especially loves American history so I was delighted when we got to review Golden Prairie Press‘ Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum. I knew this would be something Bear would enjoy. I didn’t count on it being interesting for J-jo because he hasn’t shown much interest in history in the past, and also because he is outside of the age range for the product, so I was surprised at how well he listened and could narrate from each lesson.
What is it?
Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum is a 30 week American History curriculum designed for grades 1-6, but that can be used with older ages. It retails for $98.99 and can also be purchased as a physical product, though we received the digital version.
The curriculum includes three books and three CDs.
Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 1
Lessons for the first half of the year.
Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 2
Lessons for the second half of the year.
Additional Materials CD
This CD has supplemental materials. There are printable timelines, instructions and entertaining videos, color artwork, coloring pages, and much more.
Performing historical skits is a great way to bring history to life. This book has nineteen skits from the time of Columbus to World War II.
Sing Some History CD
Hear some of the songs that are mentioned in the book. There are 20 songs. You can see them listed on the website.
Listen to Some U.S. History MP3 CD
An audio collection of 20 original speeches, poems, sermons, and documents that are mentioned in the book.
How We Used It:
Though we do history everyday, I was suffering a lot of side effects from my lyme disease treatment during this review and so we probably averaged 3 or 4 days per week of using the curriculum. I loaded the two ebooks (Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Part 1 and 2) onto my iPad so I could easily read the lessons aloud instead of printing it all out.
The two volumes are divided into 30 sections, with each section divided into five lessons. The topics covered in the two books are:
The Period of Discovery
The Period of Colonization
The Formation of the Union
The Period of National Development
The Period of National Development continued
The Civil War
The United States, A world Power
The idea is to do one lesson per day to finish the curriculum in one year. We were not able to keep up that pace during our review time, but managed to do lessons about 3 times per week. The lessons are open and go and are divided into a 1st-2nd grade reading, and a 3rd – 6th grade readings. Occasionally, the readings are combined into a 1st – 6th reading. These are usually stories about historical figures. It is easy to combine children. There is an optional book pack available for purchase for 5th and 6th graders. We often read both readings, the first as a brief introductory overview, and then the second to get more details. The lessons include activities, questions, writing topics, a memory verse, historical art, songs, recipes, games, crafts, hands-on projects and timeline activities.
The questions are mostly comprehension questions. Of the units we finished, only one or two were analysis/opinion questions. The writing assignments were creative writing assignments. I felt my children were not ready for the scope of these. We approach writing classically (narration, dictation, copywork) and I limit creative writing to what they want to generate. An example of a writing topic is to write what you think Sir Walter Raleigh and Elizabeth might be saying to each other about Virginia as they are walking through the Queen’s garden.
The memory verse is not written out in the book, so you have to look it up. While some may actually prefer that, I do not. We have many opportunities to look up Bible verses and I would have preferred to skip that step and just have it there for me. The verse is the same for the five lessons and the goal is to memorize it by the end of the fifth day.
There’s often a geography section – usually asking you to look at the maps printed in the text.
The additional activities vary – sometimes it is a craft, sometimes a recipe, sometimes listening to a song or acting out a skit.
The timeline activity is nice because there are various versions: one all filled in, ones partially filled in, and one completely blank to be filled in.
There is often historical art to look at. The questions could have been more about art appreciation, and I was disappointed about that. Instead, they are more of a “Where’s Waldo exercise in looking for various people from the readings within the painting. The kids LOVE the art observation activity.
We started a narration book in which I scribed what they remembered about each section. The optional coloring book that goes with this curriculum offers lines for narration and would have been nice to have. It would be nice if this were included in the package.
I like that it is hands-on, but not overwhelming with lists and lists of ideas. The projects were fairly simple. Reading and narrating fits well with our homeschool style. I like the open and go aspect. It is a nice sojourn through American history, comprehensive, yet well-paced. I like the additional resources provided at the end of each section of history. While these aren’t necessary, they are a nice touch for those interested in knowing more about a certain subject. Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum is very user-friendly. I like the flexibility. We didn’t do every activity; sometimes we just read the lesson.
What We Liked:
Bear has really enjoyed it. “I like the activities we get to do after the stories. The hot chocolate was yummy! I like looking at the historical art. The plays are fun. I like putting on plays!”
I love having the pdf on my iPad.
I have been thrilled with J-jo’s interest in the stories. He has never been one to sit for anything that resembles non fiction, so I love that these are living stories that make history exciting for him. The story of the Little Pueblo Prince was an especially good one he loved.
I like that there are often two readings – a simplified version for 1st and 2nd graders, and a longer more detailed version for 3rd through 6th.
What I wish:
It would be wonderful if the lyrics to the songs in “Sing Some History CD” were included as a PDF to make a song book so we could more easily commit the songs to memory. We are mostly visual learners here and all of us like to read as we listen.
I wish the Bible verses were written out completely within the book so that I didn’t have to actually look up the verses. While it is good to actually read from the Bible, we already do that. For the sake of time during history, I need the Bible verse right there. The Bible verses were a bit too short and therefore too out of context for my liking. They fit nicely with the story, just didn’t feel like they were verses I felt needed to be memorized. I felt the verses we are memorizing with our other curriculum apply more to our every day lives.
It would have been nice for the table of contents to be hyperlinked, so that one could navigate the books more easily and do it right from the table of contents.
To recap: Golden Prairie Press‘ Digital Heroes & Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum is a 30 week American History curriculum designed for grades 1-6, but that can be used with older ages. It retails for $98.99 and can also be purchased as a physical product.
Visit other’s views of the curriculum by clicking on the graphic below.