American History Made Easier: A Review

Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it – George Santayana

We have felt that History, American History in particular, is one of the most important subjects our students could learn. Over the last century, many history texts have been watered down, misleading, and sometimes inaccurate. There are good texts out there, I have just found it very difficult to find what I was hoping to be accurate that would also fit our own unique learning environment. I believe that our opportunity to review H. A. Guerber’s The Story of the Thirteen Colonies & the Great Republic Set and 200 Questions About American History Set by Memoria Press was nothing short of an answer to my prayers.

Guerber’s The Story of the Thirteen Colonies and The Story of the Great Republic was originally published in 1899. It was intended for and still remains as a historical reader, an elementary text book, or as a supplement for American History, covering events from Columbus through to the Spanish American War. This volume, by Memoria Press, combines the two original works into one timeless piece.

The 200 Questions About American History Set was developed as a supplement to be used alongside great history programs. The questions have been taken directly from Guerber’s works as well as from Everything You Need to Know About American History Homework and Susan Wise Bauer’s Story of the World, Volume 4. Although this set is an excellent resource to be used alongside Guerber’s set, it would be a fabulous addition to any American History program.

We have been working through a very solid American History text when our Memoria Press products arrived. The previous program was so thorough that we were overwhelmed and wondering if we would ever really begin to wear the binding of the text book. I have to admit that after setting down the nearly 500-page history text (part 1 only) and picking up the 6×9 soft covered, 211-page text book, I wondered if it could possibly hold more than the mere fraction of facts that sheer size alone would seem to afford.

I spent some time perusing the books that we had received while on a short car ride. The Thirteen Colonies set retails at $48 and includes a text, a teacher guide and a student guide (workbook). The 200 Questions set retails at $27.80 and includes a teacher guide, a student guide (workbook) and a pack of flashcards (each of the 200 questions). The first thing I took notice of was the fact that the Thirteen Colonies text, although small in size, included 85 lessons! Reading over the Table of Contents I recognized the names and events that are important to American History. I read over the first couple of lessons and knew that this was going to be an excellent program for us.

The lessons are bite-sized without compromising content. I think of it as the Cliff Notes version of American History. Nothing important is spared as you read through the short stories. Most lessons are two pages in length, making it easy to fit a lesson in on even the difficult days.

We jumped right in, starting with the first lesson. I read the lesson aloud to all of the students (ages 6, 8, and 11) and then had Bookworm Beauty complete the corresponding section of the student guide. Afterwards, I asked the kids if they wanted me to skip ahead to the spot in history that we had currently reached with our previous studies as the first seven lessons cover events we have already studied this year. The answer, unanimously, was a resounding, “No!” I was a bit surprised because I did not expect them to want to review things we have already covered. After exploring, I found that they all agreed that even though these lessons are shorter, they learned something new that either we did not learn in the previous studies or that somehow it was not learned.

I am not exactly sure what I appreciate the most about this product. Despite the seeming simplicity of the lessons, they are filled with solid information. Simplicity, yet thorough, is always something to be appreciated. I also appreciate the way that the 200 Questions About American History serves as a companion guide, covering the most important history facts and each president thus far. Bookworm Beauty does not necessarily get giddy about writing her answers to questions in the student guide, but all of the kids get excited to pull out the flashcards and test their knowledge. As a mom, and their primary educator, I am delighted to see them enjoying the flashcards and therefore reinforcing what they have learned.

We are finally no longer overwhelmed with the awesome task of learning the history of our great country. We are enjoying this curriculum and fully intend on completing it in its entirety.


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