Are you looking for a U.S. History curriculum that is well rounded that also helps to reinforce reading comprehension skills? Look no further than The Critical Thinking Companies U.S. History Detective Book Two. I received U.S. History Detective Book Two from Timberdoodle Co in exchange for my fair and honest review. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I would never recommend or promote a product that wouldn't benefit my families or other families who homeschool. I was very excited to receive this curriculum because we had already planned on doing U.S. History this year. We've used items from The Critical Thinking Co before and have loved them. I had high hopes that this would continue the stellar reputation I had come to expect from this company. This is part of Timberdoodle Co 9th grade non religious kit. This book is intended for grades 8th-12th. I used it with my 5th and 8th grader. It definitely was easier for my 8th grader but, with some slight accommodations my 5th grader was able to keep up with the work. I wouldn't recommend this for a child any younger than that unless it was to follow along with the reading only.
Things I Loved
I loved how much time it covered. Starting in the late 1800s to the 21st Century there was so much to learn. I appreciated they didn't gloss over how the westward expansion significantly changed the life of the Native Americans for the worse. It seems a lot of history books don't like to acknowledge there were things that were not perfect in the way land was taken/bought. They also seem to not really point out how a entire way of life was taken from the Native Americans. I liked how they covered the impact of immigration from both perspectives. I've always read about why immigrants came to America, but never how it influenced the politics and housing choices. I really like the inclusion of a vocabulary lesson, its always a good thing to increase your vocabulary. The bonus activities were also great for adding more understanding to the lesson.
With both of my children struggling with reading comprehension and finding answers from a text this curriculum was so perfect for them. The multiple choice question at the end of every section make you prove your answer choice. I appreciate this as a parent because its easy to take a guess on a multiple choice question having to defend your answer lets me know they really looked for the answer. I love that there are multiple ways they test their knowledge on what they just learned. There was multiple choice, fill in the blank, true or false, fact or opinion, written/essay response, and graphs/charts to fill in. It really is a great set up for future college testing.
I loved the sections are kept short. Having two children with ADHD large chunks of reading cause them to zone out and loose focus. The paragraphs are indicated by the alphabet and every sentence is numbered. There are plenty of pictures and maps to help kids whom are more visual learners. The fun facts boxes were filled with neat little tidbits that are great conversation starters at dinner.
Things I Didn't Like
I was a little sad to see how little attention the civil rights movement received in the book. I was disappointed to see that this like most American history books was set up for black history to be taught separately from the regular curriculum. No ones history can adequately be told in one month and there are to many significant people completely unmentioned because there is only so many days in a month. I felt the last few sections were not told from a bipartisan perspective. It seemed to not adequately or truthfully talk about the positives and negatives of presidents 42-44 or at least some more than others. With having lived through these specific presidencies I am more aware of their impacts on the American people.
While the sections being short are a positive in a way its also a con. It really does cram a lot of information in but, with the span of the book being so large there is so much barely covered or completely glossed over. I did wish the answers were in a separate teacher book. While it is nice not having an extra book to purchase, having them available can cause some temptation to take the easy way out when doing the assignment if the parent is not right there. It is also harder to check your kids work having to flip back and forth from the front to back when grading the work.
This is a great curriculum overall if your looking to really cover a broad time gap in U.S. History. If you are wanting a more in depth study this would be a great companion piece. It really can help serve a dual purpose with helping them learn to find specific things in the text and learning how to reference or back up an answer. It does cover some topics that don't seem to be covered in some of the other curriculums making it in my opinion a little more well rounded.
There are 9 sections and 56 different lessons so this definitely can be used for a full years curriculum. However the lessons are on the shorter side so if your child is more advanced you could do both U.S. History Detective Book Two and the other book U.S. History Detective Book One. You can read my review of U.S. History Detective Book One here.
We give U.S. History Detective Two a very big thumbs up.
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