Curriculum Review: Early American History by Beautiful Feet Books

As we near the end of our school year, I wanted to share one resource that has been a joy to use: Early American History by Beautiful Feet Books.

For reference, we have a 2nd grader and a 4th grader this year, and I wanted a history curriculum that could be used by both students. Two years ago, we enjoyed learning about American history through The Playful Pioneers by The Peaceful Press. This was the perfect introduction to American history and it helped us establish a rhythm for my first year teaching two students. It was truly family-style, hands-on, and had wonderful book selections. I'd recommend it for the early years of elementary school.
I knew we wanted to dive a little deeper into American history this year, and Beautiful Feet Early American History was a perfect fit for us. 

Choosing a grade level

I wasn't sure whether to choose from the Early American History Primary Pack (recommended for K through 3rd grade) or the Early American History Intermediate Pack (recommended for 4th through 6th grade), but after looking at the book choices for both, I ended up deciding on the Primary Pack because I knew I could read many of the books to our entire family. I did use a few of the chapter books from the Intermediate Pack for independent reading choices for Liam, our 4th grader. Because both packs follow the same timeline, this worked seamlessly.
We also began working through U.S. Geography through Literature Pack K-3 this year, which was a great fit as well. We'll continue working on this through the summer.

Here's what I loved about this curriculum: 

+ It's literature-based, which is our favorite way to learn. Instead of relying on textbooks or rote memorization, the books chosen are "living" picture and chapter books that are rich and engaging and tell a powerful story. We built so many memories surrounding these books, and we all learned so much. Rudyard Kipling once said, "If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” I couldn't agree more. 
+ It is truly family-style. Our 3- and 5-year-old joined us to read the picture books each day, and our 8- and 10-year-old took it a step further by answering the lesson questions and writing in their narration notebooks. Side note: These are the narration notebooks we use.
+ It can be done on your schedule. The lessons are numbered, but not scheduled. You could use this history curriculum for one year (by doing 2-3 lessons per week) or easily stretch it out to two (by doing 1-2 lessons per week). I love the flexibility of this setup. 
+ There are clear instructions for narration notebooking. If done well, notebooking covers spelling, handwriting, and even some grammar. After many of our lessons, each of our older two children engages with what we read by journaling about it according to the prompts given. The curriculum provides pictures to color and paste in the notebook, which is so helpful (so not all of the narration illustrations have to be drawn from scratch).  To learn more about our narration notebooks, see this post: Keeping a Narration Notebook.
+ It's open-and-go. The instructor's guide is truly a guide, not just a schedule. It includes thought-provoking questions, video recommendations that were wholesome and helpful (and can easily be found on YouTube), and fascinating insight and background information that I wouldn't have naturally known. 
+ It is thoughtfully written from a worldview that aligns with Christianity. While not explicitly Christian (and could be used by secular homeschoolers), none of the teaching clashes with our family's Christian worldview. The study opens with a discussion on imago Dei - the belief that all people are made in the image of God. With that said, the curriculum is very intentional about presenting both viewpoints of a particular topic: books written from Columbus' perspective and that of the Native Americans, from the perspective of early Americans and slaves. It presents a balanced approach, and I appreciate that. 

Potential challenges:

- For a family new to homeschooling, it may feel overwhelming that this is not an all-in-one curriculum but technically only covers history. But in reality, it covers many more subjects! Even though it's technically a "history" curriculum, there are recipes, art, and geography woven in. If you chose this for history and added a Bible resource (for Christian families), math, and something for language arts, you'd be set. 
- It can be pricey to purchase all the books new. Some of these books, however, can be found at your local library. So check for those and then plan to purchase the Instructor's Guide and the books you can't find at the library.
Side note: As you can see in the photo below, my instructor's guide is spiral bound. I love guides that lay flat, so I took my guide (which was originally "perfect bound") to Staples and they cut off the binding and added spiral binding for about $5. 

The bottom line:

For me as the mom and teacher, this has been a life-giving curriculum. It is aesthetically beautiful. It is rich. It is written by believers. It has meaningful "rabbit trail" tangents and extra book recommendations that we loved. I'm so thankful we discovered Beautiful Feet Books early in our homeschool journey. We plan to use their curriculum all the way through middle school and high school! In fact, we plan to use their forthcoming Medieval History Intermediate Pack for our history in the fall! I'll be sure to share as soon as we have it in hand.
Affiliate links have been used in this post, so I may earn a small commission if you choose to purchase through them (with no additional cost to you. The ideas and opinions are all mine. I only recommend what I truly love!