Not so much a complete curriculum as a collection of texts, Christian Liberty's history program focuses on the United States until the later grades and maintains an emphasis on God's hand in history throughout. All of the texts are illustrated (some in black and white, some in color) and feature easy-to-read text. While the books (particularly for the younger grades) leave some noticeable gaps, the authors weren't trying to provide comprehensive coverage and encourage parents to supplement with outside resources.
How Do These Work?
Student texts are accompanied by either an answer key or a teacher's manual. Answer keys provide answers to in-text and test questions; teacher manuals include the same, as well as lesson plans and background information. While the teacher manuals aren't absolutely necessary, they are inexpensive and include a lot of useful material. Tests include multiple choice, true/false, and "matching"questions.
Out of ten texts, seven cover American history. World history is introduced for the first time in sixth grade, and is limited to the European Middle Ages. If you follow CLP's plan, between the Streams of Civilization texts and the Bob Jones U.S. history text for grades 11-12, your student will have two years of world history in high school. (BJU's World Studies text is used for seventh grade.) Forthe Bob Jones texts they use, CLP has designed their own tests and answer keys.
The flow of the CLP history program is as follows:
- Kindergarten—Little Pilgrims in God's World: An introduction to the study of history, helping kids understand context in history. They read about the beginning of history (creation) and learn about place in their families, church, society and world. Supplemental materials include a teacher's manual and activity book.
- 1st grade—History for Little Pilgrims: The first half covers the history of God's people from Creation through the Reformation, at which point it switches focus to U.S. history from the Pilgrims to World War II. One chapter covers important National Parks and the final chapter deals with the end of history from a Reformed position. Full color illustrations by Vic Lockman and full color photographs make this text appealing to young kids. Supplementary materials include a teacher's manual and student coloring book.
- 2nd grade—Our Nation Under God: This consumable U.S. history text compares events and people as well as the U.S. governmental system to the Word of God. God's sovereignty is stressed as our country's history from early exploration to modern times is presented in thoroughly readable style. Supplementary materials include a teacher's manual and test packet.
- 3rd grade—American Pioneers and Patriots: Not a traditional history book, this one covers key moments of U.S. history from the perspective of fictional but representative children involved in important events. While there aren't a lot of dates and names here, kids will get a good feel for each time period by following daily activities of children like them. Supplementary materials include a teacher's manual and test packet.
- 4th grade—A Child's Story of America: A more traditional history text, the story begins with Columbus and covers U.S. history through Reagan's presidency. Helpful inset boxes include extra, in-depth information about key figures and events. The text is conversational and shouldn't prove difficult for most fourth graders. Supplementary materials include an answer key and test packet.
- 5th grade—Exploring American History: U.S. history is covered from Leif Ericsson to modern times through a series of brief biographies of important people. More than just sketches of people, however, each individual is considered in light of their relation to the nation and the effects their lives and efforts had on people and events. Supplementary materials include an answer key and test packet.
- 6th grade—Story of the Middle Ages: European history from the Roman Empire to the Age of Exploration is presented as the unfolding plan of God in the world. Special attention is paid to key Christian figures, especially the early evangelists and the Reformers. Supplementary materials include an answer key and test packet.
- 7th grade—BJU World Studies or A Beka History of the World: Supplementary materials include answer keys and test packets.
- 8th grade—Foundations for Freedom and The Land of Fair Play: The first text, Foundations for Freedom (which has replaced Story of the Constitution) is a detailed examination of the most important government document of the United States from its initial drafting through the many amendments that have been made to it. Also a government text, this one will stretch most middle school students. Supplementary material includes a teacher's manual and test packet. The Land of Fair Play is a U.S. civics course from a Christian perspective. A thorough examination of our governmental system and the citizen's role and responsibility is a good note to end official CLP coverage of U.S. history. Supplementary materials include an answer key and test packet.
- 9th grade—Streams of Civilization Volume 1: This is a fast-moving history of the world from Creation to the discovery of the New World. Supplementary materials include a teacher's manual, test packet and map/timeline packet; a Testing Targets book to gauge student progress is also available from Basic Skills. CLP also introduces economics in 9th, using the texts How We Live and Free Enterprise Economics in America by Tom Rose.
- 10th grade—Streams of Civilization Volume 2: Picks up where Streams 1 leaves off and covers the Age of Exploration to the end of the twentieth century. Not as fast paced as volume one, there is nevertheless plenty of information here. Supplementary materials include a teacher's manual and test packet; a Testing Targets book to gauge student progress is also available from Basic Skills. For government, they suggest God & Government Volume 1; for economics, the book In the Shadow of Plenty by George Grant.
- 11th grade—BJU United States History: Supplementary materials include an answer key and test packet. They suggest God & Government Volume 2 this year, as well as reading Honest Money by Gary North.
- 12th grade—Church History in Plain Language by Bruce Shelley (no supplemental materials available). They also layer in A Beka's Economics: Work & Prosperity (answer key and tests available). God & Government Volume 3 is an optional extra.
Our Honest Opinion:
Because of the disparity between the amount of U.S. and world history covered, if you're going to use the entire program we'd strongly encourage you to supplement with outside materials, particularly those oriented toward world history. Individually, most of the texts are excellent, and if you're looking for a firm Christian approach, this program certainly has it. History for Little Pilgrims, Foundations for Freedom and The Land of Fair Play, and the Streams of Civilization books are particularly good for both history coverage and Christian content. The main problem with CLP history as an overall course of study is it seems haphazard, mostly leaning towards American history except for the random Middle Ages at 6th grade, before borrowing world history material from A Beka or Bob Jones in grade 7; if you use the (we believe superior) BJU World Studies text, you'll never really study ancient history until high school.
Since the course is not coherent, it would be very easy to use the texts you favor to supplement or in place of another curriculum. These are some of the most readable history texts you'll find. Other than the Streams of Civilization books, each text is written in a conversational, accessible style that will have even reluctant history students reading avidly to find out what happens next.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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