Tuesday, November 10, 2009

American Heritage

There is a saying that "the best things in life are free", and this certainly holds true with American History curriculum provided by the American Heritage Foundation. I received a CD from American Heritage with their Elementary English language, Elementary Spanish version, Middle School and High School level American History curriculum to review for TOS Review Crew. Although American Heritage always provides their curriculum for FREE I promised to review this product in exchange for them mailing it to me.

The American Heritage Foundation is "a non-profit corporation dedicated to the understanding and teaching of our nation's factual and philosophical heritage to promote freedom, unity, progress and responsibility among our students and citizens." (AHEF purpose statement) AHEF provides materials to students, families and schools to help students become "thoughtful, active and productive citizens." Their curriculum, America's Heritage: an adventure in liberty consists of 10-14 different units designed to focus on four key themes at all levels. The themes are Freedom, Unity, Progress, and Responsibility. The program is designed to be used as a year long supplement or as an intensified study during the month of November proclaimed American Heritage Month by the foundation.

Each level of America's Heritage contains an 11 page essay written for the teacher and intended as background to aid in teaching the curriculum. Detailed lesson plans listing the purpose, objective, theme and core knowledge points, expected time required for each lesson, materials and preparation checklists are written on the first page of each unit. Elementary lessons are designed for grades 1-5, middle school for grades 6-8 and high school for grades 9-12.

The elementary level lessons include directions and text for activities like group discussion, essay writing, role playing, games, songs, puzzles, journal entries, art and other creative ideas. One such activity suggested in the Colonial America unit is a game that requires students to play the parts of King of Great Britain, Parliamentarian Governor, Merchant or Colonist with variations for classes with 20, 25 or 30 students. Since America's Heritage is designed to be used with classrooms of children it makes an excellent curriculum for homeschool co-ops.

My friend and fellow teacher, Kelley Chin, chose America's Heritage to use with her homeschool co-op class this school year. When I asked her for her opinion of the curriculum she eagerly responded. "I am using this curriculum. I love it! The students really seem to enjoy it too! Every lesson is interactive to give the students a tangible way to learn the material. It is very patriotic! All of the lessons are based on the founding principles of our country. As soon as I saw the add in TOS magazine, I knew that this was the way I wanted my children to learn about the birth of our nation!!" she said

Elementary units of the curriculum cover the following points of American history:

* Colonial America
* Declaration of Independence
*John Hancock's Signature
*George Washington
*U.S. Presidents
*The Great Seal
*History of Thanksgiving
*The United States Flag
*The Star Spangled Banner
*The National Motto
*The Statue of Liberty
*The Pledge of Allegiance
*America the Beautiful
*What is an American?
* plus an extra teacher's supplement regarding religious expression in public schools

Middle school lessons and activities are varied much like the elementary level of America's Heritage. A sample activity while learning about the Constitution involved learning the Preamble of the Constitution in sign language. The 182 page Middle School curriculum has units for the following topics:

*Colonial America
*Lives, Fortunes, Sacred Honor (the history of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence)
*Declaration of Independence
*U.S. Constitution
*Bill of Rights: Rights and Responsibilities
*Our National Documents
*The U.S. Flag
*The Star Spangled Banner
*The Gettysburg Address
*The National Motto
*The Statue of Liberty
*The Pledge of Allegiance
*What is an American?

The high school level curriculum offers greater opportunities for vocabulary study and discussion compared to the elementary and middle school levels. For example, students are instructed to read through the text of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, included with the curriculum, and then write their own personal Bill of Rights. High School level units include:

*Mayflower Compact
*The Declaration of Independence
*Federalist 47
*U.S. Constitution
*Bill of Rights: Rights and Responsibilities
*The First Ammendment
*Our National Documents
*Entrepreneurs in History
-Cornelius Vanderbilt
-Andrew Carnegie
-James Hill
-John D. Rockefeller
*America's Creed
*U.S. Flag/ Federal Flag Code
*Religious Expression in Public Schools
*What is an American?

America's Heritage: an adventure in Liberty is an excellent curriculum for students of all ages and the price is right! Persons interested in obtaining their own copy can do so by ordering a FREE CD on the website or if preferred purchase any level printed and placed in a binder for only $19.95 each. Payments can be made on-line through PayPal.

For more information about America's Heritage or the American Heritage Education Foundation become a fan on Facebook or visit their website at www.americanheritage.org. Once you have I think you will agree that some of the best things in life still are free.

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