Exploring America, from the Notgrass Company, is a thorough and engaging high school American history, American literature, and Bible course. The complete course comes with two softcover student textbooks, (Exploring
America: Volume 1 - Columbus through Reconstruction, Exploring America: Volume 2 - Late
1800s through the Present), another softcover book, American
Voices: A Collection of Documents, Speeches, Essays, Hymns, Poems, and Short
Stories from American History, a spiral-bound softcover Quiz and Exam Book and the answer key for the same. Volumes 1 and 2 have a combined total of 150 lessons that are divided into thirty separate units of five lessons per unit.
Exploring America fulfills three high school credits. From the website: Completing
the full course provides your child with a year's high school credit in American
History, English (literature and composition), and Bible. The History credit
involves reading the lessons and the original documents and speeches (and answering
the questions in the optional Quiz & Exam Pack if desired). The English credit
involves completing the weekly writing assignments and one research paper; and
reading the assigned literature, poems, and short stories in American Voices.
The Bible credit involves reading the Bible lessons, completing the Bible assignments
at the end of many lessons, and reading the hymns and other religious literature
The American literature portion of the curriculum is located within the Exploring
America lessons. The titles to be read and studied are as follows:
The Scarlet Letter (Hawthorne)
Narrative of the Life of David Crockett (Crockett)
Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (Douglass)
Uncle Tom's Cabin (Stowe)
Co. Aytch (Watkins)
Little Women (Alcott)
Humorous Stories and Sketches (Twain)
In His Steps (Sheldon)
Up From Slavery (Washington)
Mama's Bank Account (Forbes)
To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee)
The Giver (Lowry)
A week (or unit) of study encompassing
five lessons from Exploring
America begins with the Unit Introduction. The Unit Introduction
gives the student a concise write-up of what will be covered
in the unit over the five lessons in the week. You will be given a memory verse to learn, a list of other books used (literature selection and American
Voices when needed) in addition to the Volumes
of Exploring America, and then a choice of writing assignments. For every
lesson, the student will read the material in the textbook and
then complete the assignments. Sometimes this involves answering
questions given and sometimes it involves multiple days of writing
for the same assignment. For example, Unit 8 has two writing
assignments offered and the student chooses one.
- Write a two to three page report on the contributions of
the Adams family to America, especially John and Abigail Adams,
John Quincy Adams, Charles Francis Adams Sr., Charles Francis
Adams Jr., and Henry Adams.
- Write a two to three page paper in which you compare the religious
experience in the Massachusetts Bay colony and that on the frontier
during the Second Great Awakening.
As you can see, these assignments will take more than one
day to complete so the other days they will do reading of the literature selection
or American Voices, memorize Scripture, or answer the lesson questions found
in the Quiz and Exam Book.
Throughout the books, you will find many appealing side notes, graphics,
photographs, maps, and sections that were especially interesting, What
Was Happening In the World? This section gave world history events
of significance and facts about individuals living at the same time
to help with context. For example, did you know that Napoleon crowned
himself Emperor or that Beethoven's
third symphony premiered one year after the landmark Supreme Court case
of Marbury vs. Madison? It is helpful to see American history in the proper
framework of the rest of the world.
The fifth lesson of every unit is a Bible study. Your child will study
such interesting and applicable subjects as: How You See the World
Makes a Difference; God is Sovereign; The Bible as Spiritual Constitution;
Faith on the Front Lines; God and Freud; The Dilemma of Suffering;
Were They Really the Golden Days?; Public Leaders, Private Lives, and
many more. Obviously there is some author opinion in these sections,
but that is what makes it great for thinking and reasoning out. You
can use these as opportunities for great family discussion too. There
are questions to ponder and answer and Scripture to discover here.
The American literature selections are solid well-respected choices
worth the time your student will take to read them. In the Quiz and
Exam Book, there are questions for the student on the book. Each lesson
has questions to ask and answer on the subject in that lesson. The
quizzes and tests also found in this resource are multiple choice
as well as paragraph format.
Probably the single neatest aspect to this complete curriculum is
the book, American Voices. There is just nothing like reading
an historical figure's own words to get to know them and why they
cared so deeply about whatever they were involved in. Their stories,
poems, essays, hymns, speeches, and of course, the most important
historical documents they created make the study of history come alive.
You will find such treasures as excerpts of the New
England Primer, sayings from Poor Richard's Almanack, George
Washington's Farwell Address, the response of W.E.B. Du Bois to Booker
T. Washington and Others "...on the best path to take for black
equality and opportunity" and his essay is shared here. The reason I love history
so much is because it is a great compilation of peoples' lives
and thoughts. Many people view history as a bunch of dates and wars.
While there are many important dates and too many wars, it is the
people behind these events that lived during these dates that make
it worth our time. We are living in our own historical time period,
but we ought never to forget those that went before us. We have much
to learn from them if we only give them the time. Notgrass History
has been an exceptional way to do this. I highly recommend it!