The crazy life of the ClarkClan. Living a life of grace through Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review—Notgrass Company–America the Beautiful

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Notgrass Company is a family run company that began publishing in 1999. They seek to glorify God by producing materials centered in His Word. They offer curriculum for Kindergarten through High School. They mainly focus on History, Art, Government, and Bible studies. This review focuses on their America the Beautiful curriculum.

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  • America the Beautiful American History
  • Published by Notgrass Company

  • written by Charlene Notgrass with Ray Notgrass, Mary Evelyn McCurdy, and Bethany Poore contributing

  • Designed for Grades 5-8. This can be used with older as well as younger kids with some modifications.

  • Curriculum Package includes 6 books:  $99.95
  • America the Beautiful Student Workbook: $11.95
  • America the Beautiful Lesson Review Book: $9.95

About the Product and ClarkClan Experiences

I have been using America the Beautiful with Rebekah, who is 10, and Miriam, who is 8. I will say right up front. I LOVE this curriculum. It has been easy to use, yet is also a very thorough curriculum.

I read in the introduction to  America the Beautiful that the Notgrass Company creates “curriculum that is as easy to use as a textbook but with the richness of a unit study.” I feel this is a very appropriate description. I have usually had a hard time with unit studies, so when I read that I was skeptical that it would work for us. But the more I looked the books over, I realize this was a perfect fit for our way of homeschooling. I can use it with multiple ages of children at one time and we can even involve Dad and an older brother on occasion, such as helping make an Iroquoian Longhouse out of toothpicks and gumdrops.


We received one full curriculum set of America the Beautiful. This includes:

  • America the Beautiful Textbooks: 2 volumes
  • We the People: Words from the Makers of American History
  • Maps of America the Beautiful
  • Timeline of America the Beautiful
  • America the Beautiful Student Workbook
  • America the Beautiful Lesson Review
  • America the Beautiful Answer Key
  • Not included, but available for purchase, ten literature books to be used through the year.

When I received the curriculum in the mail, I took it to my daughter’s volleyball practice and spent time carefully looking it over and seeing how it worked. I made the decision that it looked like something that I really would enjoy using. So, the next day I ordered extra consumable books for Miriam. I ordered a maps workbook, timeline workbook, and student workbook. Since she is only 8, I did not buy the Lesson Review book as that is for older kids.


  • America the Beautiful Textbook: The textbook is the heart of the program. It is a hardback book printed in full color. It comes in two volumes, Part 1 is America from 1000 to 1877 and Part 2 is America from the Late 1800’s to the Present.  All the instructions are written within each chapter. Each unit begins with an introductory page which includes lesson titles and what books will be needed for that unit. At the end of each lesson the activities are written. I loved that I was told what book to pull out and what pages to do. This made planning very easy.  The textbook includes many pictures. The pictures are referenced within the lesson, meaning that there was an explanation for every picture written seamlessly into the text.
  • We The People textbook:  This book is a collection of stories, essays, letters and more. It is an important part of the literature section of America the beautiful. My girls really enjoyed listening to the stories and journal writings. We would read the textbook, do the workbook activities, then go back and read the We the People book to end the lesson.
  • Maps Book: If I liked the timeline book the maps book is even more impressive to me. The lesson will tell what map is to be used. The girls turn to that map and follow the instructions for that lesson. They have really great looking maps that they are remembering information from. (Just a quick tip, we found erasable colored pencils that are excellent for the map work. If mistakes are made they can just be erased and start over.)
  • Timeline Book: The activities section lists if the timeline book is needed. Then it tells what year and what sentence to write. When your child opens the timeline book and finds the year, there is a box with lines for writing the information. You know it is the right space because the lesson number is written at the end of the line. My girls liked the pictures included in the timeline and were excited to color them.


  • Student Workbook: After each lesson is read, a page is done in the student workbook. There are a wide variety of activities which the girls loved. Sometimes it is a word puzzle, a word search, fill in the blanks, matching, rebus pictures and much more. These activities help to cement the information learned from the lesson. Miriam, at 8, needed a little bit more help in doing the work than Rebekah.
  • Lesson Review Book: The lesson review book is a workbook of five questions for each lesson.It is for older kids, 7th or 8th grade, but says it can be used by younger students as well. I had Rebekah use this book. Her attention span is getting longer and this book has been wonderful in helping her move to more pencil and paper short answer questions without overwhelming her. There are only five questions per lesson.  There is a quiz to be taken at the end of each unit.  The Lesson Review book also includes questions for each of the 6 literature books that are assigned to read throughout the year. I like the layout of the book in that the literature questions are in order of when they appear in the lessons. For example, Lesson 110 has the usual 5 questions, then immediately following are 5 questions on the assigned literature book Blue Willow. There is no searching for which page something is on which makes it very easy for me.
  • Answer Key: The answer key book is simply what it is titled, an answer key to every other consumable book in the America the Beautiful Curriculum.
  • Literature Books: There are 10 literature books that are assigned through the year, five the first semester, five the second. These books can be purchased from Notgrass Company as a set or found on your own. Since we own all the books required, it will not be hard for us to implement them when the time comes. The books help to give a better perspective on the various time periods that are studied. The student is assigned anywhere between 1and 3 chapters a day and is completed in 1 to 2 weeks.


Well, after reading all the above, you could probably guess that I will highly recommend this curriculum. I have been very impressed with the thoroughness and ease of use. It is very intuitive to me to pick up the textbook, read through the lesson and then follow the activities. The extra books, do not clutter up the curriculum, but enhance the learning. It was fun to listen to the girls talking to their dolls about where the Caribbean Islands were on the map because they had learned that in their map book. The lessons are long enough to convey all needed information, but not too long that the girls lose interest.

I have been homeschooling for 12 years and had only briefly overheard about a curriculum company called Notgrass Company. Now that I have reviewed their product, I will definitely look into more of their offerings and advise others to do the same.


I was not the only one to review offerings from the Notgrass Company. Visit the Crew Blog to read what my Crew Mates thought of the America the Beautiful as well as Draw to Learn.

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