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America's Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty (elementary, middle, and high school editions)


The Houston Independent School System
The American Heritage Education Foundation, Inc.
www.americanheritage.org

3501 West Alabama, Suite 200
Houston, Texas 77027-6035
713-627-2698


America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty (Elementary Edition)

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Thomas Jefferson

The above quote is the basis for which this very thorough unit on citizenship, patriotism and American history was developed. The Houston Independent School System realizes not only the rich history America holds, but also the importance of teaching that history to the future of our country. With an emphasis on how our free, democratic government was created and the necessity of trustworthy, moral citizens, the curriculum will build a strong historical foundation and a great sense of patriotism in elementary children.

The unit begins with a preface for the parent or teacher about the very beginnings of our country’s “experiment” in self-government and freedom of the people. Background information is given on other types of government systems in the world and how the founding fathers of our country established the self-governing principles under which we live. It talks of the faith, character, devotion and sacrifice so many of the early Americans had, as well as the benefits that have come from living in our government system.

Following the preface, in a sturdy three-ring binder with labeled divider tabs, are fifteen lessons that can be adapted for middle to upper elementary children. A few of the lessons might be appropriate for younger elementary students, but the majority are not, in my opinion. All of the lessons are developed around one or more of the following themes: freedom, unity, progress and responsibility.

Each lesson begins with a teacher sheet describing the purpose of the lesson, its objective, what theme(s) it covers, the Core Knowledge requirements met, the lesson’s time frame, materials needed and what the teacher needs to prepare ahead of time.

Next is the lesson plan which gives the teacher clear directions for teaching the lesson. Any reproducible, vocabulary lists, background information, game pieces, etc. are provided directly after the lesson plan for easy access to what you need.

Since this curriculum was originally written for a public school system, two sections are found in the back of the book that help public school teachers to know their rights in teaching religious education in the school, and a syllabus helping them to know when to incorporate these lessons into their school year. Neither are especially helpful for the homeschooler, but they don’t take anything away from the curriculum either. In fact, the syllabus might give some homeschool parents a nice plan for introducing each lesson in their home.

If all fifteen lessons are completed, a variety of topics will have been covered such as Colonial America, the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Presidents, Thanksgiving, our flag and the Pledge of Allegiance, patriotic songs, the Statue of Liberty and what it means to be called an American. Each lesson typically lasts between 45 minutes to an hour with many academic subject areas, especially language arts, being incorporated.

The lessons are innovative and exciting, with most of them easily completed by one student or a family of students. The reproducibles include things such as coloring sheets, crosswords, cut-apart pages where your child has to reorder the words to say “The Star Spangled Banner” or The Declaration of Independence, and games.

As a citizen of the United States who sees the extreme need for passing on our country’s history, heritage and faith, I find the material in this curriculum to be of utmost importance. It’s written in easy to understand language for both the teacher and student, with activities that are meaningful and not what I call time wasters. Whether used in the homeschool or a co-op type setting, I believe your children will learn much and develop a great pride for the country in which they live.

Product Review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2008

 

America’s Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty (Middle School Edition)

“If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Thomas Jefferson

The above quote is the basis for which this very thorough unit on citizenship, patriotism and American history was developed. The Houston Independent School System realizes not only the rich history America holds, but also the importance of teaching that history to the future of our country. With an emphasis on how our free, democratic government was created and the necessity of trustworthy, moral citizens, the curriculum will build a strong historical foundation and a great sense of patriotism in middle school children.

The unit begins with a preface for the parent or teacher about the very beginnings of our country’s “experiment” in self-government and freedom of the people. Background information is given on other types of government systems in the world and how the founding fathers of our country established the self-governing principles under which we live. It talks of the faith, character, devotion and sacrifice so many of the early Americans had, as well as the benefits that have come from the government system like ours.

Following the preface, in a sturdy three-ring binder with labeled divider tabs, are fifteen lessons. All of the lessons are developed around one or more of the following themes: freedom, unity, progress and responsibility.

Each lesson begins with a teacher sheet describing the purpose of the lesson, its objective, what theme(s) it covers, the NCSS Standards met, the lesson’s time frame, materials needed and what the teacher needs to prepare ahead of time.

Next is the lesson plan which gives the teacher clear directions for teaching the lesson. Any reproducible, vocabulary lists, background information, game pieces, etc. are provided directly after the lesson plan for easy access to what you need. Complete versions of documents are included, too.

Since this curriculum was originally written for a public school system, two sections are found in the back of the book that help public school teachers to know their rights in teaching religious education in the school, and a syllabus helping them to know when to incorporate these lessons into their school year. Neither are especially helpful for the homeschooler, but they don’t take anything away from the curriculum either. In fact, the syllabus might give some homeschool parents a nice plan for introducing each lesson in their home.

If all fifteen lessons are completed, a variety of topics will have been covered such as Colonial America, the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Gettysburg Address, our flag and the Pledge of Allegiance, patriotic songs, the Statue of Liberty and what it means to be called an American. Each lesson typically lasts between 45-90 minutes, with many of them needing more than one day to complete. Several academic subject areas, especially language arts, are incorporated.

The lessons are innovative and exciting, with most of them easily completed by one student or a family of students. The reproducibles include things such as games, charts, and worksheets. Assessment ideas are given at the end of each lesson that might require the student to write a paragraph or a report on the particular lesson’s theme.

As a citizen of the United States who sees the extreme need for passing on our country’s history, heritage and faith, I find the material in this curriculum to be of utmost importance. It’s written in easy to understand language for both the teacher and student, with activities that are meaningful and not what I call time wasters. Whether used in the homeschool or a co-op type setting, I believe your children will learn much and develop a great pride for the country in which they live.

Product Review by Cindy West, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October, 2008

 

American history is truly my favorite subject to teach, so I really enjoyed this resource. Written by teachers, this K-12 program provides supplemental lessons in American history, government, and economics. Each book begins with the very interesting essay 1776 from Freedom to Oppression: Modern History's First Experiment in Self-Government, which contains a look at our nation's foundation and the basis for this curriculum.

Each level is similar in content, though age appropriate, and begins with American Heritage Themes. These include Freedom, Unity, Progress, and Responsibility, and the lessons reflect these themes throughout. There is also a wonderful section highlighting character traits of notable Americans, leaders, and presidents. The elementary and middle school levels include such topics as The Declaration of Independence, George Washington, U.S. Presidents, U.S. Symbols and observances, the Pledge of Allegiance, and the National Anthem. These topics are taught through reproducible game cards, worksheets, crosswords, charts, bookmarks, finger puppets, and more. The middle school edition even includes the Preamble of the U.S. Constitution in sign language! The high school edition provides a more in-depth look at our national documents, the First Amendment, and religious freedom in schools.

The best part about this resource is that if you order it on CD, it's free! The CD contains all three levels. If you prefer, you may order the pre-assembled binders for just under $20.00 each. These are also available in Spanish. This is a really fantastic resource, especially for the price! I would recommend it to supplement any homeschool history program.



Product review by: Amy Christy, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC, July 2008


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