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America: An Integrated Curriculum

By Chris Roe
Christian Novel Studies

The wonderful thing about unit studies is watching students make the connections between different disciplines. The light bulbs flash, and the student's appreciation for history brightens with the integration of historical literature and the cause and effect flow of history. The problem is the work of pulling together the materials. For unit study fans and American history buffs, Christian Novel Studies author Chris Roe has a one-year integrated curriculum available for third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students entitled America: An Integrated Curriculum. Using the children's versions of The Light and The Glory, From Sea to Shining Sea, and Sounding Forth The Trumpet by Peter Marshall and David Manuel, the emphasis is on God's hand in our country's history, including all school subjects except math.

There are three volumes in this series: Part One: 1492-1789, Land of the Pilgrims' Pride; Part Two: 1787-1837, From Every Mountainside; and Part Three: 1837-1860, Let Freedom Ring. Each of the three units is organized in a day-by-day format, with clear instructions for vocabulary, reading, history/geography, English, Bible, health, music, art, arts and crafts, safety/manners, and spelling. The science instructions are listed at the beginning of each week. In addition to the actual notes for each day's work, there are extensive reading lists, goals and objectives for each subject, and weekly lists of needed supplies. The appendix in the back includes maps, spelling activities and rules, pictures and instructions for specific activities, answer keys, and more.

Literature is a key to this curriculum. Whether studying the Marshall/Manuel books, or using books from the reading lists, the majority of lessons include the incorporation of literature into the study. Two reading levels are included: one for third and fourth grade and one for fifth and sixth grade.

So, what does a day of study in America look like? Well, let's look at the third book in the series, Let Freedom Ring, week seven. The supply list for the week (for one student) begins the week. The two science lessons for the week are "Inside the Earth" (the layers of the earth and their characteristics), and "Sedimentary Rocks." Lessons include information, activities, and questions. Then, the day-by-day instructions begin. Day 1 begins with reading a chapter in the book, Listen for the Whippoorwill. There are comprehension questions that follow. Writing for the day is a discussion of characters and how to make them come alive. The student takes one character from a previous work, writing a description with a format taught in a previous lesson. The English lesson is on subject/verb agreement. History includes a chapter from Sounding Forth the Trumpet, including questions, and some background information on slaves and literacy. Bible is taught by discussing the quality of "Cooperation." There is no Bible verse studied today, but the student will choose a verse to memorize tomorrow. Spelling has five words listed. That is all for Day One. Other subjects covered that week on other days include a President study, music, art, and cooking.

My only hesitation with this program is the use of the Marshall/Manuel books as the main source for history narrative. These books offer a limited view of American history, and I would choose to supplement with additional texts. I also see value in studying the events in other countries during this period of American history.

Chris Roe has done a huge amount of work, listing all that is needed to offer a year of study on American History. It is a program that can easily be used with multiple students in third through sixth grade, and modified, without too much work, to include older and younger students. The activity options, and the different areas of study, allow students with different strengths and interests to find topics and activities that excite them.

To learn about Christian Novel Studies and the materials they offer, you can visit their website at They have several reading and writing booklets, literature study guides, and an additional year study of integrated American history.

For a year's adventure in the history of our country, take a look at Christian Novel Studies' America: An Integrated Curriculum. You will find a tremendous amount of preparation done for you, allowing you to provide a unit study experience for your third through sixth grade students that won't have you exhausted before you even begin. Enjoy.

- Product Review by: Diane Wheeler, Senior Staff Writer, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine

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