In looking for a US History curriculum for my teen, I searched for something that covered both history and geography but also encouraged critical thinking. Using the homeschool catalog by the Rainbow Resource, at www.rainbowresource.com, one program caught my eye. It was Short Lessons in US History. I found this book to be engaging while covering all the essentials of U.S. History. And it helped my daughter develop her critical thinking skills!
Short Lessons in US History consists of 11 chapters, each with the following features:
- Time Line – related dates for each chapter
- Activating Prior Knowledge – questions to look for as you read
- The text, with sidebars and brief biographies
- Critical Thinking questions
- Activities – Map activities, Reviews, and/or Crossword Puzzles
We used our own homemade timeline and added the important dates to it each week. Seeing them laid out visually on the timeline helped to put each event into perspective.
Many of the activities in Short Lessons in US History included map work, dealing with such issues as land expansion, economic development and key events in the Civil War, etc. We also used US History Map Activities as a supplement. My teen enjoyed their map activities as well, especially plotting out the native homes of the Native American tribes and tracing the route taken by Lewis and Clark, among other things.
Short Lessons in US History includes the following chapters:
- A New Land Is Reached and Settled
- Thirteen Colonies Become a Nation
- The New Nation
- The Nation Keeps Growing
- Brother Against Brother – The Civil War
- Years of Growth and Change
- The U.S. Becomes a World Power
- An Uneasy World
- The United States Meets New Challenges
- The U.S. as a World Leader
- A New Beginning
After we finished with each chapter, we took time to discuss it together. The critical thinking questions were great discussion starters in our homeschool! They became a helpful way to connect with my teen, while sharing the principles upon which our country was founded.
Here’s a sample of a Critical Thinking question found in this book: QUESTION -1.— The Colonists depended upon England for many things. They openly broke British laws. They complained about British rule. In what ways were colonists better off than many people living in England?
These type of questions helped to lay a foundation in critical thinking, which my teen later built on when preparing for the SAT!
Who is This Resource For?
This book was written to the high school student, or the advanced middle school child, and could easily be paired with literature/historical documents for more in depth learning. During the Civil War chapter, for example, my daughter read To Be A Slave, studied Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address.
Where Can You Find It?
If you are looking for a creative textbook/map work approach to U.S. history, my family recommends Short Lessons in US History, by E. Richard Churchill, and Linda R. Churchill. It is published by Watch Education. They also publish a map activities book entitled, U.S. History Map Activities, by the same authors. For more information, please go to www.walch.com.
Betsy is mom to her now college senior, whom she homeschooled from day one. She blogs at BJ’s Homeschool, about the early years, high school & college and wrote the book – Homeschooling High School with College in Mind. She offers FREE homeschool help through messages at BJ’s Consulting.