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All American History


By Celeste W. Rakes
Bright Ideas Press
www.brightideaspress.com
877-492-8081

PO Box 333
Cheswold, DE 19936


No matter the method of instruction that you are using in your homeschool: traditional textbook, Charlotte Mason method, unit study or the Classical approach-there is something for everyone in All American History, published by Bright Ideas Press. This first volume covers the following time periods in four units: European Exploration, Colonization, Revolution, and Establishment and Expansion. This curriculum, geared towards grades 5-8 but adaptable for younger and older students, covers a full year of material in 32 weekly lessons and four review tests.

Both parent and student will get the most out of the study by purchasing all three essential books: The Student Reader (textbook), Teacher's Guide with Answer Key and the Student Activity Book. The Student Reader is over 400 pages and each lesson is laid out in the same way for continuity of study. The lesson begins by discussing the atmosphere in which an event took place. The next section discusses the event itself and is then followed by a summary of items that show the impact that the event left on America and/or the rest of the world. Numerous black and white illustrations, maps and pictures accentuate the material in each lesson.

Although a child could read through the textbook and learn the information presented, the Student Activity Book adds a lot to the study and I would consider it a must-have due to all of the wonderful activities that are inside it. These include maps to fill out, prompts for locating key information in the text, review questions, hands-on activities and suggestions for further study. Everything needed to complete the lessons is included in the Activity Book. Reproducible forms and images are also in the back of the book.

The Teacher's Guide is a gem! It is divided into four sections. Section 1 begins by explaining to the parent or teacher how to get the most out of the curriculum, giving suggestions for homeschoolers, co-ops, and private schools. It also discusses how to adapt the curriculum for younger and older students so that the entire family can use this ONE curriculum! This not only saves prep time for mom, but money too! After this introductory information, there are Resource sections for each Unit. These Resource sections are incredible! They list activity ideas, timeline dates, mapwork suggestions, ideas for review games and book lists by grade level. Other important resources included in Section 1 are: answers to the Further Study questions in each lesson, lists of Adaptions for Younger Students, Family Activity ideas, and checklists for completing each lesson. Section 2 includes the complete Answer Key for the Activity Book. Section 3 contains optional forms for further study and Section 4 contains the images to be used with the forms. Also included is a bibliography list for each unit; these books could be used for further reading, too.

I have been looking for a good American History textbook curriculum for my children; All American History isn't good - it's great! What I love most is the mapwork included in each lesson because that means there is no longer a need to teach geography separate from history. The Teacher's Guide is so comprehensive and full of such wonderful suggestions for further study that I am planning on using this curriculum in high school using the suggestions in the Teacher's Guide. A second volume is planned to cover the rest of American History after 1840. Many people think that textbooks can be dry and boring, but I found All American History interesting reading due to the "Atmosphere - Event - Impact" layout of each lesson; it just tied everything all together for me. To borrow a phrase from a popular television commercial, "Try it, you'll like it!"
-Product review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, April, 2006


All American History: Uniting America’s Story, Piece by Piece
Vol. 1 - The Explorers to Jacksonians
By Celeste W. Rakes
Bright Ideas Press
www.brightideaspress.com
877-492-8081

PO Box 333
Cheswold, DE 19936


Don’t abandon history textbooks until you check out All American History by Celeste Rakes. This new offering from Bright Ideas Press will woo you back to using a text. It’s different.

Ms. Rakes taught history to homeschoolers so many times that she designed her own books to do so effectively. Written for grades 5-8, the materials are easily adaptable to younger or older students.

The textbook reads like a good story, as all history ought to. I read several chapters and was captivated by the piece-by-piece telling of the events that shaped our nation. The people and their accomplishments come alive as the student reads, for example, about what people wore at the turn of the century. We learn that these very real people owned only a few outfits and laundered them infrequently. It’s these small details that make the struggles and triumphs of history meaningful for our students and that draw them into learning more about the era and its impact.

Each chapter ends with a section called “Impact” in which the author makes up to a half dozen points to cement the main ideas of the chapter in students’ minds. More complete than a mere summary, they attempt to show the student the significance of events, rather than just regurgitating what happened. For example, the “Impact” summary of the chapter on Colonial Family Life highlights the development of school systems in the colonies and the different methods for handling education depending on the area and its resources.

The main textbook is only a part of this exciting program. Each week, the student reads a chapter from the text, then goes to the Activity Book to encounter maps, forms, and review questions. A teacher’s guide contains answers to review questions and an abundance of other material. There are hands-on projects, research ideas, teaching tips, and book lists for supplemental reading. The teacher’s guide is not overwhelming. I like the way she arranged this. For each unit, she lists the required activities, generally reading the text, doing a review form in the Activity Guide, and studying a map. Then there are optional activities, such as review games, ideas for further research, hands-on projects like making fake leather out of grocery bags or building a fort, and much more. Additional books lists are divided up into age groups, which I really appreciate. Suggestions are given for younger AND older students, making this an easy-to-adapt study for multiple ages.

This is called Volume 1 and covers from the Explorers to the Jacksonians. I checked the web page to see when we can expect to see Volume 2 but did not find anything.

I have used other spines for American history, but this is my new favorite. It can be used as your entire study or as the book that ties it all together as you explore the time period through literature. This is well done, easy to use, and readable. You and your children will enjoy this.
-Product review by Kris Price, Assistant to the Publishers, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, April, 2006




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