Making Your Own US History Course - High School

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Are you looking for some frugal resources for making your own US History course?

When it came time for our high school US History studies, we used a variety of sources, and made our own course.  To do that, we picked a spine, then added in some geography, literature, and a little art history, for fun.  My teen was a big part of putting it all together. 

So, today, I'd like to share with you how we went about putting together this course, which included:

- a spine
- literature options
- geography
- a  primary resource
- and some art.

Then, after that, I'll be sharing two other options for US History, for those who would prefer using a ready made course.

 Our Homemade Course 
in US History

1.  First we needed to find a spine for our learning....My teen was a big part of choosing this resource, and the others as well.

We searched for something that would cover everything and also encourage critical thinking. This book caught my eye.

We found this book to be engaging while covering all the essentials of our country's history, in it's 11 chapters, each of which included:

-1.  Time Line - related dates for each chapter
-2.  Activating Prior Knowledge - questions to look for as you read
-3.  The text, with sidebars and brief biographies
-4.  Critical thinking questions
-5.  Activities - map work, reviews and puzzles.... click here above to read the rest of my review of this frugal book.

2.  Next, my daughter wanted to add in some living literature...

There are lots of ways to add living literature to your history studies.  Of course, if you add in American Literature, then you will be doing two high school credits, US History for one, and American Lit for another high school credit.

You can pick and choose fiction and non-fiction such as:

To Kill a Mockingbird
Uncle Tom;s Cabin
The Federalist Papers
Tom Sawyer
Miracle at Philadelphia
Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Thomas Edison - from Heros of History
(there are so many other choices, of course)

At our house, we have used Oak Meadow for our English studies for many years.  My daughter wanted to use that for our living literature, and we found Oak Meadow's American Lit course.  That gave my teen a credit for English as well as one for US History.

Oak Meadow American Literature

This course gave my daughter lots of writing practice, while she enjoyed reading literature, relating to our US History studies. The novels included:

The Great Gatsby
The Read Badge of Courage
To Be a Slave
Speeches, Interview, Editorials, Magazine Columns, etc.

Click here to read more about this American Lit course.  

3.  Our third step was to add in some geography.  We did not do every project in this book, but it was a great supplement to our studies...

This book is set up in a workbook style, which my teen enjoyed, with comprehensive mapping activities for each major event in US History.  By answering the questions and mapping out each historical event, my daughter got a hands-on feel for each major event, my teen got a hands-on feel for what she had studied.  It's from Rainbow Resource also, very frugally priced.

4.  Next we found a frugal resource for primary resources, called...

The Patriot's History Reader

This book goes back to the original sources, including documents, speeches, and legal decisions that helped to shape our country. It was so convenient to have this at hand, and it eliminated the need to search the internet for these.  Click here to read the rest of my review.

5.  Then we found a resource for art....

This book added a lot of fun to our studies.  The Boston Massacre, Paul Revere's Ride, the End of the Civil War, are all famous paintings included in this book, which teaches about design, rhythm, and perspective...and it is offered as a book or a cd.
Those are the key resources that we used for our homemade course, but if you would rather have a complete course, instead of piecing one together,  read on below for two prepared curricular options.

Two Complete Prepared US History Courses

This is a complete US History book, which has a number of resources included.  It can be rented or bought used with the link above, just click the title.  The book itself includes the following:

1. Vivid and Accurate Re-telling of US History
2. US Geography with National Geographic Maps
3. Primary and Secondary Sources
4. Related Activities
5. Appendix with Supreme Court Case Summaries
- American Lit Library
- Critical Thinking Lessons, such as "Find the Main Idea, and Determining Cause and Effect"

This course explores American History from 1775 through the 21st century, through an interdisciplinary approach that includes literature, art, and biographies.  It encourages integration of information, critical thinking skills and more, while the student learn US History in depth.

 American Vision can do all the work of putting together a solid and creative history course for you. They also offer a student center and, it looks like, also free videos for each chapter.

Here they offer many more online activities, and it is a part of the Glencoe Online Learning Center, which has a whole lot fo go-to activities, links, and more...To add a lot to your study of The American Vision, check out the web activities, vocabulary cards, e-puzzles and games, interactive maps and more.

I love how Glencoe puts together their history books.  We used their World History book in 10th grade, and it taught so many of the critical thinking skills to my daughter. And they had primary sources, references to art, and great essay questions to ponder as well.  There was a quiz at the end of each section, which we used at times.  Just click above for free videos that teach the important history concepts that are included in each chapter.

Here's another option for a prepared course:

This is another great option for US History from Oak Meadow, a well established secular educational publisher, that we love....

This course explores American History from 1775 through the 21st century, through an interdisciplinary approach that includes literature, art, and biographies.  It encourages integration of information, critical thinking skills and more, while the student learn US History in depth.  Great for college prep!

Oak Meadow US History includes:

1.  The OM Syllabus
2.  The American Vision by Glencoe, which was mentioned above. 

So, I shared two ways you might like to do US History...Our homemade course, including 5 components and making it both a lit course and a history course, worth 2 credits.  

Then I shared two complete prepared courses that are also great options.  What are your favorite for high school US History?  I love reading your comments... so please share your knowledge with others here..or ask a question!


Also on the blog:

Homeschooling high school gives you and your teen a chance to be together, side by side, as they enter the all important high school years, and begin to explore their future possibilities in life.  

Here's the book that I mentioned above  -  Homeschooling High School with College in Mind..   

Note - This post may included affiliate links to products that we love and have used or would use in our  own homeschool. Please see my disclosure policy.

Heidi, from Starts at Eight says:

"If you are planning on homeschooling high school then Betsy's book is the one that you want to have on the shelf" here to read the rest of her review."

Kindle and Paperback are on Amazon

For the Kindle:
  13 Downloadable Printables
To guide your planning, step by step! 

 Good News!

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Click here to get yours!

For the iHN History blog hop, click here.

Thanks for stopping by BJ's Homeschool,


Betsy is mom to her now college junior, whom she homeschooled from day one.  She blogs at BJ's Homeschool, about the early yearshigh school & college and wrote the book - Homeschooling High School with College in Mind.   She offers free homeschool help through messages at BJ's Consulting

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  1. My youngest child and I are getting ready to study about the US in history for next school year, and I'm so glad I came across this article! The timing was perfect. :) Thank you for linking up with us at Hip Homeschool Moms!

    1. Thanks, Wendy Hilton, of Hip Homeschool Moms, for stopping by! I hope you have a good time with your US History studies,

  2. I have just ordered the American Vision book for next year. I hope it works out for us because I am very excited about it.

    1. Thanks, Carie Black, for stopping by, and I hope that this resource is working out well for you, or will, if that was for next year. I am sorry that I missed your comment and are just getting back to you now, lol!

  3. is there a printable schedule anywhere and how long is the course a year or a semester? Looks very cool!!!!

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Adamant Academy. It is a whole year long course, and making a printable schedule is a great idea! I just used a planner and took it one week at a time for our course. If I make a printable, it will be on my blog, so you could see it here. Thanks again for the great idea!


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