Recently Jackson and I were able to use and review an excellent American history resource. Amy Puetz, writer and creator of Golden Prairie Press, has authored Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum. (While we reviewed the digital version of this curriculum, it’s also available in printed format from Golden Prairie Press.) We’ve always loved this type of curriculum….let me tell you why!
I’ve been a fan of Amy Puetz’ writing ever since I first discovered her writing in homeschool magazines years ago. She is able to write about history beautifully and cleanly. She breathes life into historical facts and figures….and depending on where your children fall in the grades 1-6 range that this curriculum is designed for, they can either be read to or read the chapters on their own. Puetz relates historical events with a view of the hand of Providence on people and events. She integrates lots of bonus activities as well, so your kinesthetic learner, your auditory learner and your visual learner will all enjoy it!
What is Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past?
Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum is a full course of American history, covering the years from native Americans prior to Leif Erickson’s 9th century visit to North America all the way to President Barack Obama’s administration. So you can see, Amy Puetz covers a lot of historical ground! The spine of the curriculum, Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History, is divided into two books, Part 1 and Part 2.. Puetz segments history into the events that were happening in each era. But she takes students a step further back in time, and introduces us to major and minor characters that populated those eras. So history becomes intimate, vibrant and true-to-life as we discover the experiences and adventures of these men, women and children.
- The Period of Discovery
- The Period of Colonization
- The Revolution
- The Formation of the Union
- The Period of National Development
Each subsection of the historical periods above has 5 fascinating lessons about happenings or personalities of the eras. For example, one of my favorite sections of The Revolution includes the following lessons:
- Lesson 1: Boys of Boston
- Lesson 2: Washington at Boston
- Lesson 3: Declaration of Independence
- Lesson 4: Caesar Rodney’s Ride
- Lesson 5: Elizabeth Lewis: Wife of a Signer
Amy Puetz, in addition to being a fantastic writer, is a highly creative lesson planner. She includes activities at the end of each chapter that challenge the student with further work and fun, whether it’s creative writing, essay answers, Bible memory verses…or even cooking, science, art and music. Timeline pages are included so that your child can note where and when different events occurred.
Part 2 of Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum continues the story of history with these segments:
- The Period of National Development Continued
- The Civil War
- The Period of National Expansion
- The United States, A World Power
Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum includes some excellent additional resources to aid your student in learning about the past. Historical Skits, in ebook form, contains 19 skits that cover personalities and events from 1492 to 1942. These are absolutely wonderful short skits, and whether you pull out your costumes and props or simply do a read-through with your family, they’ll add fun AND understanding to your children as they learn about these varied characters. Due to the small size of our family, all members had to participate AND sometimes double up on roles, but it was so enjoyable and interesting.
Sing Some History CD (or, in our case, mp3) relates many of the popular songs from America’s history. Have your children ever heard “Lavendaer’s Blue,” “Hail Columbia” or “Sweet Betsy from Pike?” These and many others are included. I especially enjoyed playing “Lavendaer’s Blue” for Jackson, as it has a special meaning for me. When I was a child, I remember my grandmother singing that often, along with other old hymns or popular songs from her girlhood. He never got to meet her, but this mp3 set made a neat connection to his family’s past!
Listen2SomeU.S.History is one of my favorite resources included in Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum. It contains 20 different dramatic readings (4 hours, 35 minutes’ worth) by fantastic orators. You’ll hear from a collection as varied as Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty” speech, to “The Mayflower Compact,” to “The Declaration of Independence.” Famous sermons from the Great Awakening (George Whitefield and Jonathan Edwards), Civil War speeches and even one by Teddy Roosevelt round out the historical speeches. These are so interesting and so well-presented; you and your children will love hearing these voiced so effectively.
The last resource included is an Additional Materials CD (or mp3). This is a fabulous mix of musical hymns. printable activities which go with the lessons, games, maps, crafts and timeline printables. These will round out everything you’ll need to complete this curriculum successfully!
How we used it:
We used Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past as our main history spine during this review period. Although we could have started at any time period in the books, we chose to start at the very beginning with The Period of Discovery through The Period of Colonization. Either we read the lessons together, or Jackson read them on his own. For each lesson, he spent time answering the review questions about the events and characters in the time period. We did arts and crafts projects, cooking, and art observations of the famous prints associated with these historical eras. Probably our most favorite enrichment activity was making the Puritans’ Scripture Cake, where the recipe has Bible verse locations instead of ingredients. You have to look up the verse to find out what the ingredient is (i.e. leaven, figs, raisins):
I personally love Amy Puetz’ writings, and believe that her Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum is a wonderful addition to any homeschool with students in grades 1-6. Puetz writes about history with a gentle and kind voice, putting historical events into pictures that children can truly apprehend. And, with her wonderful enrichment activities students will definitely remember what they learn!
Digital Heroes and Heroines of the Past: American History Curriculum is available at Golden Prairie Press for $98.99. You’ll be able to download all the resources I mentioned after purchasing the set.
Other TOS Crew members received Amy Puetz’ history curriculum, and you can read about their experiences with it at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.