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America's Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty, High School Edition Review by Donna Campos

The American Heritage Education Foundation, Inc.
3501 W. Alabama, Suite 200
Houston, TX 77027-6035

Organized in a three-ring binder with 188 pages and tabbed dividers, this curriculum covers various aspects of the history of the United States. It is designed to supplement your existing U.S. history curriculum. The units include "American Heritage Themes," "Mayflower Compact," "Declaration of Independence," "Federalist 47," "U.S. Constitution," "Bill of Rights," "First Amendment," "Our National Documents," "Entrepreneurs in History," "American's Creed," "U.S. Flag/Flag Code," "Religious Expression in Public Schools, and "What is an American?" and "Character Education." The Table of Contents lists the unit titles with dates, which are presented in chronological order. It also suggests a particular month of the year in which to complete each unit. A Letter to Teachers and Administrators stresses the four key themes of the curriculum: freedom, unity, progress, and responsibility.

In the Foreword, the co-founder of the American Heritage Education Foundation stresses the importance of teaching about our democratic republic. The Preface gives an overview of governments predominant in the world before the founding of America, and it includes a straightforward explanation of Ruler's Law. We appreciated the example of Moses being groomed for Ruler's Law in Pharoah's palace and later instilling God's Law and a representative government with greater success. The information in this curriculum is important for every American.

At the beginning of each unit, you will find the following information: Purpose, Objective, Theme, NCSS Standards (National Council for the Social Studies), Time expected to complete the unit, Materials, and Preparation. Specific instructions for Focus, Activity, and Closure follow. Any necessary reading material or handouts are included after the instruction pages, and these may be copied for classroom use. Units range in length from a few short pages to just over twenty. Activities are appropriate for individuals or small groups, and options are often provided. Although it was designed for general school environments, the curriculum is easily adapted for home school use. And it is flexible enough for use in a co-op or small group setting. The expected time necessary to complete each unit ranges from 1 hour to up to five days, with the majority requiring one to two days of a one-hour class period. Students will need various school and art supplies to complete the activities, including dictionaries, newspapers, magazines, and adequate Internet access for research assignments.

The included handouts provide the basic information needed for the activities. Any additional information that is needed would likely be found in your existing U.S. history curriculum or on the Internet. Writing assignments, posters, puzzles, and written arguments are all included in the activities, and they sufficiently challenge high school students to know their American government and history better. A study of the major historical documents is included, and parents might enjoy the opportunity to research, study, and learn about these documents along with their student(s). The study is definitely high school level, although it may be adapted for middle school students.

We enjoyed this curriculum and found that it fit well with our existing curriculum. The cost is unbeatable, as teachers may download the curriculum for free, while purchasing a printed binder format is a reasonable $19.50. The activities provide a change from an existing curriculum while maintaining the focus on your chosen government course. The subject matter is so pertinent to our government today. The unit on The American's Creed sums up the importance of appreciating our government, acting as responsible citizens, and securing our pride in and love for our nation. The influence of God and the Bible is not avoided in the curriculum, and although it is not the integral focus, it is included as historical information, as it should be. America's Heritage: An Adventure in Liberty provides a thorough study of U.S. government material and will enhance student understanding. Our family is thrilled to have the opportunity to use these materials, and we remain impressed that the American Heritage Education Foundation continues to provide materials for home school use free of charge.

Product review by Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February 2009