A Review of Early American History by Beautiful Feet Books

Disclaimer: Complimentary Product Received

For those who have trekked with my family on our homeschool journey over the years, you may know that we approach history in cycles. Meaning, we commit the entire school year to focus on one time period. Then, the following school year we cover the next chunk of time, and so on. This school year, we are learning about the Middle Ages.

However, as a member of the Melanated Gold Review Squad, my family had the awesome opportunity to sample the New Early American Intermediate Pack for 4th-6th grades by Beautiful Feet Books over the last six weeks! This history study focuses on Native Cultures dating from roughly 1000 AD to the Civil War in 1865. The subjects covered include: History, Literature, Nature Study, Culinary History, Geography, and Biblical Character Development. 

In addition to these topics, the Beautiful Feet website boasts, “Covering over a thousand years, this study encompasses Native cultures, the Vikings, the Age of Discovery, colonial settlements, revolution, slavery & emancipation, and civil war. We’ve added several new sections: Rabbit Trails (additional book recommendations), Crafts and Projects (hands-on activities), Online Resources (websites and videos), Character Connection (Biblical principles), and The Historic Table (historical recipes). We’ve also included historical background information for each section, poetry study, and additional timeline figures.”

When I received this curriculum, I was excited to see the plethora of books! 23 to be exact!

Screenshot of the books offered in this study from the Beautiful Feet Books website

We are a family of readers and this is how we like to study history. The number of books and topics covered were vast. It came with an in-depth teacher study guide, a timeline, and a blank composition notebook. This study also offers 129 Lessons that can be taught 3-4 lessons per week. You get all this for a price tag of $245.95. But you will be set for an entire year’s worth of history!

Because we do not typically follow a formal study guide or curriculum for history, this approach took some getting used to. After a while, I decided to stick to what we know. We ended up naturally exploring the books as we found them interesting. I’ve learned over the years it’s important to make homeschooling with any curriculum work for you. So that’s what we did. 

However, if you need a systematic study guide, you will not be disappointed with this one. The study guide comes as its own separate book. It’s organization and thoroughness were quite impressive. 

Each section gave a short write up of the topic at hand. Lessons were pretty short and straightforward. They directed users to read a specific passage from the books and answer various questions. Each section ended with a series of recipes or hands-on activities. 

I found that the recipes included were especially interesting since my kids love to cook. We enjoy making recipes related to the people and places we study. These recipes were very in-depth so you had to be sure to give yourselves plenty of time. But they are worth it if you really want a sense of how the people ate and lived. 

Screenshot of Abe Lincoln’s Favorite Almond Cake recipe from the Beautiful Feet Books website

I also like how the study guide gave additional maps, pictures of people and artifacts, as well as additional book recommendations. This definitely enhances your studies. 

I loved the timeline that was included. There were pictures and dates already printed. We needed to only assemble it. Our family is used to making our own timelines so my kids can have a better sense of time. But for ease of use, this timeline was really helpful. 

It is important to note that this is an explicitly Christian curriculum. The idea of Imago Dei, the Biblical teaching that all humanity is created in God’s image, and thus worthy of dignity, is covered early on. I appreciated this conversation given the nature of the horrific history of our nation’s founders. 

This is why I also have to be honest about a major downside to this curriculum. It fell prey to the temptation to celebrate the perceived heroism of Columbus and the first settlers. In so doing, it failed to acknowledge the utter devastation that these people’s mere presence brought to the “New World”.

For instance, Where Do You Think You are Going, Christopher Columbus? By Jean Fritz, casts Columbus in a favorable light. It briefly mentioned some of the later troubles he experienced. But it did not explain the all-out human suffering he brought to the lands he “found”. Columbus was no hero.

Period. 

How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis & Clark by Rosalyn Schanzer described York, the only Black man on this expedition, as the “faithful slave of William Clark.” It later referred to him as the “Black servant” of Clark. This type of language continues the romanticized and watered down story of Blacks/Africans in the eyes of their White counterparts. Another section of the book included a degrading statement made by Clark about the Arikaras tribe. He said, “The Arikaras are the best looking, cleanest Indians I have ever seen in the village.” 

I could have done without these two books. I found no value in these stories other than to be reminded that there is much work to be done. If anything is ever to change, the colonizers must rightly tell the truth of their forefathers.

There were a handful of slave narratives offered in this curriculum. My hope is that in the future, Beautiful Feet Books and other programs like it will do a better job at elevating the voices of not only the enslaved. Blacks in America existed before slavery and our full story is worth of being told.

Some books, more than others, did a better job of humanizing the people of the First Nations by simply telling their stories. One nice surprise was Heart of the Samurai, by Margi Preus. This book gave a totally different vantage point using the true story of Manjiro Nakahama. Nakahama, a young Japanese boy was set on an unforgettable journey after being lost at sea.

Layla reading Hiawatha and the Peacemaker

In all, this curriculum offered informative literature to give one view of the world during this time. 

Every selection was not perfect. 

However, I would not totally rule out this curriculum. When we cover this time period next school year, my plan is to only use what is historically accurate. We will have conversations about the misconceptions of how the early peoples of our nation have been portrayed over the years. 

The truth is that having a keen eye for self as well as communal reflection is important when studying this time period. This will ensure the same injustices that occurred then will never be repeated again. 

If you’d like to explore the Early American History Intermediate pack for 4th-6th grades by Beautiful Feet Books for yourself, you can do so through this link

Check out what my fellow Melanated Gold Review Squad Members thought about the New Early American Intermediate Pack here! You can visit the vendor’s website here. Make sure you follow the hashtag: #melanatedgoldreviewsquad and #beautifulfeetbooks to find more product reviews you’ll love!

Thanks for reading!

Blessings,

Courtney

Published by Courtney B. Dunlap

Christ follower. Wife. Mother. Friend. Writer...and excited to grow! I believe there's a need for more down-to-earth online spaces in which moms like you and me and anyone else in-between can explore the in's and out's of homeschooling free from competition yet rich with encouragement. My hope is that all that you find here will provide just that!

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