Friday, September 19, 2008

The American Story

I know I'm early, but ever the planner, I was looking around long and fairly hard for a spine to use for American History.  For those of you who have never heard of a spine, a spine is the "backbone" of a unit of study. From there you can always flesh out the program with living books and activities. Many times the spine is a textbook, but in a Charlotte Mason homeshool, the ideal would be a living history narrative.  Perusing the Well Trained Mind forums, I knew I would have a few to look through and review. 

So far I've just glanced through Joy Hakim's books and read a few paragraphs from number 2 (I had a thinking five-year-old and a busy one-year-old loose in the library). It's well-written and interesting, but the pages look too busy for son. He gets distracted by clutter, as do I. It also seems geared more towards older students, and I would recommend it for middle school and up.

The American Story: 100 True Tales of American History by Jennifer Armstrong and Roger Roth is a large, beautifully illustrated and interesting book.  It's a collection of short nonfiction stories and legends of American History. I was impressed by it as soon as I saw its heft, beauty and breadth of topics.  It's chronologically presented by year, from 1565 to the year 2000.

The stories are engaging, and I find myself wanting to read the whole book. I love the fact that it's factual but in narrative form. I love the illustrations. I love the big size. Needless to say, this is the book we're going to be using as our spine for American History for the early grades. It's everything I've been looking for.  

The curriculum Winterpromise uses this as its spine together with the Maestros' Trilogy on American History.  Since I'm planning on using almost all the same resources, including its living books, I may just go with Winterpromise for that particular year (possibly 3rd grade).

I may.  However, I do really like my independence as well.  We'll just have to wait and see. II'm also attracted to the idea of trying out a pre-packaged curriculum -- even if it's just once.

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