Friday, November 6, 2009

Review: American Heritage Education Foundation

I blogged a couple weeks ago about how I am using Cub & Boy Scouts citizenship materials as a spine for some of the subjects required by Colorado that I don't necessarily want to make into a full-blown study.  Namely Civics and Constitution of the United States.

Well, I have another option now.  As part of the Homeschool Crew, I received a CD from American Heritage Education Foundation.  I've looked at their materials in the past, but never enough to really get a handle on what is included.  And what I've glanced over looked way too classroom oriented for my tastes.

I really should have looked further, as there is a lot of great information here, at least for homeschoolers in the US.  American Heritage Education Foundation is "dedicated to the understanding and teaching of America's factual and philosophical heritage to promote constructive citizenship and Freedom, Unity, Progress, and Responsibility among our students and citizens."

Those four themes are explored over the course of approximately fifteen lessons.  The idea is to do one or two lessons per month over the school year.  Some lessons can be completed in 45 minutes (their time recommendations), some are meant to be worked on over a few "class periods."   They have four separate products:  lessons for elementary children, a Spanish version of the elementary level, lessons for middle schoolers, and lessons for high schoolers.

I only glanced at the high school lessons, and opted to combine the elementary and middle school levels.  Many of the lessons are very similar (about ten of them) and those can be taught together, with the older students doing more involved projects or writing more.

About 1/3 of the lessons are different enough to not readily combine.  I haven't gotten to those yet, so I haven't quite decided what I'm going to do with them.

They have suggestions for when to do the lessons (by month), but as far as I can tell the only lesson that really is month-sensitive would be the lesson on Thanksgiving.  So I am just working through the materials from the beginning at a rate of a lesson every 2-3 weeks.  I'll skip ahead and do the Thanksgiving one in a couple of weeks, then jump back to do them in order.

What I like:  this is a really painless way for me to log some time in for civics.  And I love the focus on the themes.  We're studying Ancient History this year, so getting a periodic refresher on American history is kind of  fun.  We're reading quotes from Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, George Washington and George Carlin.  Okay, the Carlin quote wasn't actually in the materials... that was one my oldest found as he was doing some research on the theme of Freedom.  (I know you'll ask... "If crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight?")  We're taking a look at the causes of the American Revolution from a lot of different points of view (King, Parliament, Governor, Soldier, Merchant, Colonist).

What I don't like: all the educational-eze with standards and such, and the materials are definitely geared to a classroom.  Very easy to modify but still...

What I love:  the price!  It's free!!  You can either download it, or they will mail a CD that contains all four sets of plans.  Or, you can order a printed version for $19.50 per level.  See the website for details.

I'm glad we started doing this.

You can check out what my fellow crewmates have to say about American Heritage at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive this product for free from American Heritage Education Foundation, just like anyone else can just by requesting it.  The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.

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