This has been a favorite with my kids. We did part 1 last year and are using part 2 this year. I have added a variety of books as supplements (Civil War for Kids, Industrial Revolution for Kids, Mr Lincoln's High Tech War, Six Days in October, Team Moon, etc). I like to use non-fiction books, too, and use this history text as my spine.
We love America the Beautiful. It was full of so much information and great project ideas that I broke it down into 2 years - 1st book 4th grade and 2nd book for 5th grade. We would spend a week on 1 unit and then read books about the topic the next week. It made it very enjoyable for us and could spend extra time on subjects we wanted to explore further. I highly recommend it.
I purchased this set to use while homeschooling my daughter who is in 6th grade.
The Pros: -The books are beautiful and very user friendly.
A strong background in American History is not necessary in order to effectively use/teach this set. We love the timeline and maps book. The student activity book has been a big help as well. This book COULD also be used as a geography course as well, if you are willing to expand a bit on the portions that cover geographic features. The books are from a Christian perspective.
The Cons: The author has covered a LOT of material in this
two volume set so some of the topics and time periods covered are not very in depth. (The information could be considered 'an inch deep and a mile wide'.) For example, the Revolutionary War period only covers a dozen pages, the events leading up to the Revolutionary War covers only a few pages. The French and Indian War gets only a paragraph or so. If you are not interested in teaching culture or geography, you might be frustrated by the units that cover only these topics.
Overall - I would recommend this set to a homeschooling parent who might have limited knowledge of US History, yet wants to 'jump in' to a curriculum that lets them begin to start teaching and learning right away. The set HITS on all key areas of US History, in my opinion, which was a huge help to me. This gave us a good reference of a timeline of events, and key people and places in America. However, since the author only touches on these key areas, I recommend being prepared to source additional information. I found that my daughter didn't understand or remember significant details because they weren't given enough attention in this curriculum. I had to pause our lessons for a week while I researched events (such as the Boston Tea Party etc.) so that she could have a better understanding. This curriculum however, made it easy to do this. If you are going to spend extra time teaching these events, (which I recommend doing) you may find that you need two or even three years to cover the material. I plan on using this curriculum set from 6th-8th grade.
I have used this curriculum for half a school year with my 5th and 8th grade boys. I like that they can both study the same thing. The student workbook is perfect for my younger one, and the lesson review is great for my older one. The map book is helpful, as well, and we've done most of the weekly family activities and read about half of the extra books suggested to this point.
My issue at this point is that it has just been too much information. We spent maybe 2 days on the revolutionary war and only one week on the civil war. Some days we covered 3 or 4 presidencies in just one lesson! If I was able to do it over, I would split this book into two years, much like the public school system where I live approaches US history. This way we would have time to complete almost all of the suggested activities. Many of them were excellent - we just didn't have time to get them done. My plan now is to hold off on the second half, go back and spend more time on topics up to the civil war that my boys are interested in, read some good historical fiction, and talk about current events.