TOS Review: Bright Idea Press/ All American History

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received four books to review from Bright Ideas Press. Three of these were from the "All American History" program. The other is titled," Student History Notebook of America." I was not compensated beyond these free items for my honest review.

"Celeste Rakes has a BA from Furman University and is certified in history,secondary education and has a masters degree in Biblical studies from Covenant Seminary. She has homeschooled her own three children from K-12th grades as well as taught for many years in a homeschooling co-op. This course is the product of her love of teaching."

This History curriculum, when used with Student Activity Book and Teachers Guide,
is a complete History Curriculum for Grades 6-12. It could be adapted for younger children. With book lists and the activity guides you could also count some penmanship and literature into your time spent. The curriculum can easily be integrated into any method of Homeschool. We consider ourselves "eclectic" with a current leaning towards Charlotte Mason and Applied Trivium methods. we are a Christian Homeschool and integrate our spiritual studies into each subject as well. The author states this curriculum is distinctly Christian. We reviewed Volume 2 which covers the time periods from events leading to the Civil War to Modern Age. This was right where we were in History. This contains 32 weekly lessons. We reviewed the 557 Page Student Reader, the Student Activity Book, and the Teacher's Guide/Answer Key. Please note, we found the Teacher Guide to be the heart and soul of the curriculum. I will be using this guide for years to come. Volume 2 is broken down into four units: Civil War and Reconstruction, The Gilded Age, Two World Wars and a Great Depression, and The Cold War and Beyond. There are sample pages available here The curriculum is also co-op and family friendly.

All American History Student Reader
We choose to use Living Books in History, but for a textbook type book this was nice.
We especially enjoy the hundred of pictures. I sometimes will not read the text but will discuss points from the text and we will view the pictures together. We were able to intertwine some Art History lessons and Art Appreciation with such clear images. My son also uses the text for research. Again, how this used would depend upon the family and your methods. My son felt the reading to be a little dry for his taste. He also was left wanting more information with some of the topics. If you have the teacher guide, this is readily solved as book lists are provided. We liked how the author divides the information into three areas - Atmosphere, Event and Impact. We use the Impact Section to recap lessons from the previous week or weeks, as we often expand on a topic. Another strength is that there is an appendix with "Charter Documents of the United States".

The All American History Student Activity Book
We are a notebooking family! We have been scrapbooking and notebooking for years. Basically, this book is for just that. Filled with maps, some cut and paste activities, question and answer forms, Further Study questions and chapter reviews this could be a nice addition to our portfolio. We really liked the maps and and the visual forms like "Steps to War" and "Civil War Hall of Fame". We found a few questions on the q&a forms were not easily answered by just reading in the text. We pick and choose which forms we will use weekly. I also use the review as an oral q&a discussion and assessment. The "for Review" could also be used as a chapter "test". I have to admit,my husband liked that I am not doing as much printing! It is nice to have this pre-made book.

The All American History Teacher Guide and Answer Key
This was my favorite of the four. It is truly the heart and soul of the curriculum.
Section One covers how to use the curriculum. Ideas and sparks to get you started.
How use end up using the curriculum is truly up to you. Section 2 contains Teacher Resources. At our home, we are all about learning by doing! we thrive and grow on hands-on activities. I was pleased the guide had all kinds of project possibilities suggested for each unit. For our Civil War unit, we have read biographies, cooked meals, listened and learned music of the era. We also have begun notebook sections on African Americans and Native Americans, their contributions. There are forms for these included, that you copy. We began a section on Civil War Battles. We have been combining this with History Channel presentations on the different battles. We have learned about Clara Barton. we have learned about the language and culture of the era. Timeline dates are provided. These are of course dates the author deems important, but we found them helpful, nonetheless. A reminder serves to direct you to the mapmaking form the student activity book. Ideas for review games and family activities are also a part of this very helpful section. Again, these are provided for each unit! Feel overwhelmed and lost? A Unit Checklist keeps you on track and organized.

Section three contains book lists which are divided into primary, middle and high school levels for each unit. Some related movies are also mentioned if related to the literature and deemed appropriate. I previewed the list before starting our unit, noted which I were interested in, and then visited our library website to see what was available. We were blessed with so many choices that we have plenty to span throughout the whole unit. Section four contains the questions and answers to the further study questions given in the student activity book. I have used these as sparks for discussion. Some have sparked us to research or books on the subject being discussed. Some of the questions we have used during our Spiritual Study time.
Section Five contains the answer key to all the student activities.

Rounding out this valuable resource are optional forms, images for required forms and a select bibliography. These forms and images require copying. I have used the bibliography for more book ideas for both my son and myself.

Student History Notebook of America
The last of the books I reviewed. This book is sold by Bright Ideas Press and created by Maggie S. Hogan. She is co-owner of Bright Ideas Press and is co-author of Hands-On Geography. This book provided forms and maps to copy for documenting any study of America. This could really be a benefit to any History Curriculum you are using. I use a good part of this book. The Introduction is worth your time to read. Lovely journal pages are included, as well as, various logs and charts. There tips for Hands-On projects and timeline pages are included in this mix. One and two page maps are also included. There is an appendix section with forms for further research, memorization, and additional studies. The motto of this section is " Look it up-Write it down-Remember it!" An example of these pages: Scriptures and Quotes, Presidents, Preamble to the Constitution, The Pledge of Allegiance, Our Government Today, Currency and Coins, and more. This is a book you can use consume or use over and over with multiple students by copying the forms.

From the website:
All American History Users!!
We invite you to join our on-line discussion group for users of (and those interested in) All American History series. This site is filled with great ideas and tips! This is a great place to share teaching experiences and receive input to your questions.
To join the AllAmericanHistory group, go to:

Save 16% by purchasing the complete set of All American History Volume Two $68.00
Student Reader, Hard cover, 557 Pages $44.95
Student Activity Book,soft covered, perfectbound, 3-hole punched and perforated, 306 pages, Price $16.95
Teacher Guide and Answer Key - A must if you are going to use this curriculum. It has a soft cover and 336 pages. Price $18.95
Click here to purchase.
The Student History Notebook of America, soft cover is not currently listed in their new pdf catalog.

I urge you to take a look at Bright Ideas Press new pdf catalog. Also visit the TOS Homeschool Crew site for reviews on the many wonderful products offered by Bright Ideas Press!


Anonymous said…
We used AAH vol 1 when it first came out and LOVED it!!! We would have gotten vol 2, but, it wasn't out in time for when we needed it. If Vol 2 is as good as Vol 1, I highly recommend it!!!!
~Lisa K
Becky said…
Thanks Lisa! Yes, I highly recommend this one also. I am weaving it with ideas and links from Tapestry, and Homeschool in the Woods.
I always pull from many resources to create our own study. Probably why I get overwhelmed!
Ha Ha