I am using ATB with my kids, ages 6, 8, 11 & 12 this year. We are taking it slow and will be using it for two years, so we're currently only on Lesson 50. But the kids all love it and so do I.
I knew this would be the curriculum for me when I read the "Some Reminders So You Will Not Feel Overwhelmed" section on page xiv. "God does not expect you to do more than you can do. Be kind to yourself. He knows exactly what you and your children need this year." Mrs. Notgrass goes on to encourage homeschoolers, including me, to "rejoice and be glad" in what God has given us. I'm not gonna lie, it made me cry tears of relief.
And using ATB has been fantastic for our family. For me, the mom/teacher, I love that the plans are all laid out in each chapter for me. I don't need a separate teacher's addition. We pick and choose what we do for each lesson, sometimes using the ideas for creative writing, vocabulary and the other suggested activities. As of right now, we have but are not using the timeline book. My kids don't really seem to need it. Of the suggested activities, we almost always read the literature but my kids have not enjoyed "We the People." I think it's a great resource, but because it's often written in the 200 year old vernacular, they've struggled to understand it. We usually do the creative writing and vocabulary assignments. They seem very age appropriate for my two oldest kids.
We also always do the maps. Everyone but the 6 year old has a map book. Initially, I hadn't purchased any books for my 8 year old, thinking he would just listen in, but surprisingly, he saw the other kids using the map book and the crosswords in the red student book and insisted I buy them for him. He's been a bit of a reluctant reader, so this was huge for him. He has completed each assignment with gusto and it has improved his reading to have to use that skill to answer the questions. As the mom, I love these books! They reinforce and explain the lessons so well! They are one of the best aspects of ATB. Do not skip these books! They are, in my opinion, essential to the student's understanding of the lessons.
I ordered both the blue and red books for my 11 & 12 year olds, as they are in 5th & 6th grades. Like I mentioned before, I did not initially get any books for my 8 year old 3rd grader. The red book is really too easy for the older kids but just right for the 8 year old. I have them do both because I bought both books and it doesn't take very long to do.
Our favorite parts are the read alouds. We've read the first three and even my 6 year old is engaged every single time. We are between books right now and he just asked me when we could start the next book. When I told him it would be a week or two, he was very disappointed.
In all, I love ATB. I love being able to pick and choose the parts that work for our family, the emphasis and Christianity and the easy layout of the lessons. It's a curriculum our whole family enjoys. I highly recommend it.
Not only did my "History is Boring" son LOVE this but we have done 3 years of Notgrass History now, and he is still loving it! The activities are great and super flexible. Not all appeal to us but that's ok we pick and choose with no reorganizing required. Work can be virtually independent or very interactive with the parent depending on how you want to do things - no planning necessary. Also, thanks to Notgrass we knocked out History, Bible, Literature, Writing, Vocabulary/Spelling, Geography, Culture and Social Studies and even had Art or Home Economics activity each week - all in one set! No work on my part, no planning required, it's all just there! Optional Workbook pages are fun and varied and Review pages are straightforward question and answers so take your pick and both have unit tests included for the bean counters. Buy their literature set and always be sure to get the best version of the books or borrow from the library either way all are readily available. Reading selections are good and interesting reads (even if my son thinks one or two were rather "girly") Nothing about this material is complicated either! Just follow the textbook... pick and choose how many/which activities you use (handy separate lesson assignment checklist is available at no cost to make day to day tracking easier) then add review &/or workbook when you want, and voila... easy as pie! Honestly the best written, best looking, best organized and by far easiest to use curriculum I have ever had the pleasure to employ.
This History is a great start to learning US History. I am so thankful for the combination of Bible, History, and Lit it provides. My children have done most of the work on there own. They have enjoyed the different workbooks, Maps, lesson reviews, and the Student workbook. We have continued to use Notgrass in High School as well.
I purchased the America The Beautiful curriculum set last year for my daughter who was in 7th grade. When the books arrived we decided to take our time and not rush through the materials. We only used the first textbook (part 1) 1000 to 1877 last year. This year we will use the second textbook (part 2) 1800s to present day for 8th grade. My daughter enjoyed the first textbook very much. I am expecting her to enjoy this year's history lessons as much as last year's history lessons. We felt that trying to complete both large textbooks in one year would have been overwhelming, especially if we tried to cover the topics in any depth. I supplimented lessons with DVDs and other library books in addition to the text books. We were able to visit a few of the historical sites mentioned in the first book. My daughter really enjoyed seeing the historical sites she had read about. I highly recommend the Notgrass history curriculum for homeschooling families!