No single world history course is going to cover everything, particularly one geared towards middle school students. The remarkable thing about From Adam to Us is that it does, in fact, cover a lot of ground in its 150 lessons. It rarely spends two consecutive lessons on the same country, place, or person, instead hopping around to different parts of the world during the general time period. With the added source material that's a feature of Notgrass history, students who use this course can expect to get a decent exposure to the general flow of global history.
How it Works:
From Adam to Us is a one-year course for middle school students built around a two-volume core textbook/teacher's guide/reference manual. Each volume includes 15 units of five lessons each, for a total of 75 lessons per semester (150 altogether). Lessons are usually 2-5 pages, and include text to read, assignments linking the other books in the program, and hands-on activities. Students can either read the lessons on their own or have them read aloud by parents, depending on your child's primary learning mode (auditory or visual).
Units are arranged by time period and most include one lesson devoted to world history, one biography, a Daily Life sketch, a lesson on a famous landmark (geographical or man-made), and a lesson on an element of God's creation relating to the time period. At the end of each lesson is a list of activities for students to complete, including Thinking Biblically, creative writing and vocabulary assignments, literature reading (ten works of fiction are assigned), timeline and map exercises, and assignments in one of the two student workbooks available; a single family activity is assigned per week (a recipe, craft project, etc.).
The two main volumes are the central elements, but there are six supplemental books. From Adam to Us - Timeline and From Adam to Us - Map Book include a timeline and maps respectively (surprise!) that students complete as per the corresponding lesson assignment. Our Creative World contains source documents from world history including letters, journals, songs and poems, and some excerpts from longer works.
A Student Workbook includes crossword puzzles, word searches, etc., and is recommended for grades 5-6; a Lesson Review book for grades 7-8 reinforces lesson content with quizzes, short answer questions, and more (but is not so challenging that an eager 5th or 6th grader couldn't do it). While you could have students work through both texts (assignments in both are short, generally less than half a page), the authors encourage you to use one or the other for each student. The Answer Key includes answers for all written assignments in the consumable workbooks and the main texts.
In keeping with the unit study theme, ten novels are assigned in addition to the textbook reading. All of them are classics of young adult literature. While these add a "fun" element, the main texts are pretty fun on their own—Ray and Charlene Notgrass writes concisely for middle school kids without dumbing anything down, and both volumes are profusely illustrated with color and black and white photographs and artwork.
The student is given 1-2 weeks to read each book, with 1-3 chapters assigned each day.
Ten works of literature are assigned in the From Adam to Us curriculum to give your child a richer perspective on the various time periods studied. The student usually has 2-3 weeks to read each book, with 1-2 chapters assigned each day.
Our Honest Opinion:
A lot can be said for this latest installment. For one, it fills a current hole in middle school world history curriculum. It's able to maintain a Christian perspective on world history while still being fairly objective. It's a comprehensive overview that gives students a look at where multiple parts of the world stood during the same time period. It doesn't have too many parts and pieces, and a self-motivated visual learner can potentially pick it up every day and do it primarily on his own.
That being said, the text, activities, and questions do skew somewhat young. The course is recommended for grades 5-8, but students higher than 7th grade may not find it to be enough of a challenge. As a sixth grade introduction to world history, however, it's solid. If you want to do Notgrass history all the way through, we recommend starting with this one, and progressing from here to America the Beautiful.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here
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