Winter Promise (WP) is a provider of complete curriculum packages (excepting math and often science, depending on the program). Their philosophy is primarily Charlotte Mason with an emphasis on living books, narration, timelines, and historical fiction read alouds. One main difference from other similar curriculum providers is the addition of hands-on projects, paper crafts and notebooking pages.
American Story 1 (AS1) is the first part of WP’s two year American history plan. It is designed for grades 1-3 and covers life in America from Pre-Columbian times to Westward Expansion. The package is expensive ($379) because of the quantity of books included. The plus side is that most of these books are ones you will want to keep as you build your home library.
We used this curriculum for my daughter’s third grade, and it overlapped into fourth grade. I never regretted my purchase of AS1. It was a perfect fit for my crafty, history loving daughter. Two time periods that especially stand out in my memory are the American Revolution and the Lewis and Clark Expedition. There is also a wonderful emphasis on Native American peoples that cycles throughout the entire year.
You will like WP AS1 if
- You want a literature based history curriculum.
- You want to move through all of American history in 2 years.
- You want hands-on activities and papercrafts integrated into the program and already planned out for you.
- You enjoy using a timeline.
- You don’t need tests, comprehension questions, or vocabulary lists.
- You like a well organized, open and go schedule.
- You enjoy the support of an online forum where you can interact with other curriculum users.
The guidebook is your schedule that lays out the reading assignments in a weekly format. It offers a plethora of choices, usually including several hands-on activities and a website or two. The expectation is that the mom will selectively choose which ones to try. No one is expected to do it all. We did a lot of it, but never all of it.
I love how the activities are already planned out, often in the form of reproducible paper crafts. All I have to do is photocopy and my daughter is ready to cut and create. Other projects require more preparation or supplies, but none are terribly complicated. Directions are found either in a book that is part of the package or in the guidebook. The crafts are woven into the program in a very skillful way, matching the activities with the curriculum content. My daughter made dioramas, a model travois, salt dough pendants, an earthen Hogan model, and 3D paper maps. She always looked forward to the papercrafts and projects, and I felt that they added a lot of enjoyment and excitement to the program. Best of all, I didn’t have to hunt down ideas as I had done with other curricula.
Generally each week has one to two notebooking pages assigned, always recapping something you’re studying in the lessons.
The books are wonderful. There is a delightful combination of picture books, non-fiction books, coloring books, and biographies to teach history. The read alouds are relevant historical fiction which generally match the time period you’re studying. We loved every one of the books. There was not even one dud in our estimation.
WP guidebooks do not include specific notes for the books. There are no comprehension questions, no vocabulary lists, and no tests. The guidebook is basically a schedule with suggested activities.
I found the notebooking pages very disappointing. Although the topics chosen each week were good and the frequency seemed just right, the pages themselves are too text heavy. Generally the pages include a black and white graphic and text. There is nothing to do, write, or draw. We sometimes used these pages by reading them and highlighting key parts. Or we cut out the graphic and wrote our own text. Basically, the WP AS1 pages are not true notebooking pages, so we often resorted to creating our own. If you like the notebooking option, you may want to look for pages from another resource to complement AS1.
AS1 is designed to go along with a timeline, and the suggested figures are listed in the guidebook. You can use your own timeline or buy the WP notebook timeline cardstock pages. I love the format of WP’s timeline because you can put notebooking pages among the history timeline in the correct places. The pages are heavy duty cardstock, already hole punched and ready for a notebook (not included). They are actually quite pretty with fancy script headings and a list of some key events on each page. A faint map background gives the page a bit of visual interest but doesn’t distract from the timeline figures. You can use your own timeline figures, buy a package from WP, or use the Homeschool in the Woods packs.
The WP owners and guidebook writers are Christians, but AS1 is not overtly Christian. A secular homeschooler could easily use WP by simply omitting the Bible portion of two titles. I found the Bible portion too shallow, and we chose to substitute with something meatier.
If you’re interested in WP but the high price is a barrier, consider buying used. Homeschool Classifieds and Vegsource often list WP packages (often complete or nearly complete) at reduced prices. Be patient, plan ahead, and check the ads daily.
If you’ve used WP American Story 1, please share your own pros and cons here. Or if you’re searching for information, please feel free to ask any questions that you still have.