Review of Notgrass History: America the Beautiful

Notgrass American the Beautiful

Notgrass History, in particular the course called America the Beautiful, has been one of my favorite curriculum choices. The two hardback textbooks along with the hardback book of speeches and original documents called We the People, are beautifully done and written in a conversational way. The two review books, timeline book, and map book are appropriate for grades 3-5. The books themselves are enjoyable for ages 7 and up.

I read the two volumes of America the Beautiful aloud to my 5th and 8th graders last year. As a lover of history, I truly loved this book. The photographs were amazing and I especially enjoyed reading about the National Parks and biographies in the book. Most history books overlook National Parks or only mention them in passing. With this course, you will learn about an American landmark, usually a National Park, each week! I have added Crater Lake to my list “to visit” places in the USA thanks to Notgrass. I doubt you will read about Fred Rogers in another history book, yet his biography was one of my favorites and quite moving. You will also read about the Presidents, main events of history, and the actual words of those who lived during the times in the book We the People. The books are written from a Christian worldview, which is very important to our family.

I also enjoyed using the literature program with Notgrass. I read the following books aloud, and have reviewed them below:

Note: Two of the selections, Little Town of the Prairie and All of a Kind Family, we had already read aloud together as a family, so we did not re-read them. They are both wonderful stories which we highly recommend.

Sign of the Beaver (near the bottom of the post, please scroll down)

Amos Fortune: Free Man; Brady; Bound for Oregon (all in one post, scroll down)

Across Five Aprils

Blue Willow

Homer Price

It took me between 30 minutes to 1.5 hours to complete the read aloud portions each day. By the time I was finished teaching my youngest, helping the others with math, and grading everyone’s work for the day, I was exhausted. For this reason alone, I have chosen not to do Notgrass this year. However, I have saved my books and plan to use it with my youngest two children in the future. It is a wonderful history program that brings the family together to share in learning, and in making memories. To me, that is the very heart of homeschooling.

With love,


Chisholm Trail Heritage Museum

Over our spring break, we were able to visit the Chilsholm Trail Museum in Duncan, Oklahoma. It was the nicest little museum I’ve been to in a very long time. Maybe ever. It was only about a forty minute drive, reasonably priced and very entertaining. My favorite part was the film presentation. Most museums have these type of presentations. The one at Mt. Vernon, Virginia, was a dramatic reenactment about (obviously) Washington. It didn’t hold a candle to the one in Duncan, Oklahoma! I hate to give away the fun, but I just have to tell you about it! It was shown in 4-D. That means you can not only watch the movie on a screen which sort of circled around you, but you can smell the grass, the dirt, and yes, even the cattle! You can feel the wind and the heat from the fire. And…wait for it…you can feel the water when the cowboys splash through the rolling river with their herd. It was excellent. I can’t wait to take our family the next time they visit us!

They have a small area where kids can dress up in hats and vests, and practice cattle-roping. They have a mock-up general store and a wagon, loaded and ready for the trail. They also have an animatronics presentation featuring Jesse Chisholm and a cowboy out on the trail. These robots were designed by the folks at Disney, and they are top-notch. They also have a small art museum featuring local artists and their renderings of the wild west.  Outside the museum, they have a scale-model of the renowned trail that you can walk, noting the most famous landmarks.

Anyway, I’ll quit jawing about it and let you see some photos of it! Hmm…I feel so western all of a sudden.


We had already been to Geronimo’s grave, so it was fitting to see what he looked like.


Laci liked this statue of an Indian woman and her papoose.


The little ones enjoyed practicing their cattle-roping skills. Yeehaw!

Leslie matt food

I’m not sure if you can tell in this photo, but this faux food looked incredibly real.


For Oklahoma’s centennial celebration in 2007, some men decided to go on a round up on the Chisholm Trail. They did everything just as the cowboys did it. This cow, Blackie, led the herd.


The man after whom the trail was named, and who reportedly *hated* beef, Jesse Chisholm.


They have stamps with which you can design your own brand. This is Terry’s attempt to make “TBII” for Terry Basham, II.







Our final stop was the gift shop. Mitchell bought this scorpion sucker. Yes! It’s actually edible! *shudder*


I stayed away from the extreme items in the gift shop and came away with some cute cookie cutters in the shapes of the state of Oklahoma, a boot, a Texas Longhorn, and a cowboy hat. I want to do some Oklahoma state history over the summer and, of course, cookies would be a good place to start.

Happy trails,


The Laura Ingalls Wilder Home

I mentioned in my last post that we would be traveling. We got home last Tuesday from our journey. I just want to praise the Lord for His protection during our trip. We went from Lawton, Oklahoma,  to Mansfield, Missouri, on Thursday, May 16, to meet my friend, Ava, and her family for a tour of the Laura Ingalls Wilder home. This is where Laura’s things are, and the place from which she wrote all of the Little House books. From there, we went on to Mattoon, Illinois, to see Terry’s grandmother and so he could preach at Bible Baptist Church on Sunday. It was a total of 11 hours driving in one day! We were pretty tired when we pulled in to her house at 10:30 that night, but we’d had a full and wonderful day.

When I was about twelve years old, I met Laura for the first time in the big woods of Wisconsin. I connected with her instantly because she loved playing more than working (so did I) and because she often got into trouble (so did I). I followed her life from her childhood and on through the teen years to her marriage. I am now embarking on that journey once more as I read the books aloud to my little girls (Lauren read them a long time ago), and I’m enjoying it all over again. Laura inspired me to want to write, too. When I told my mother, way back then, that I wanted to write, she offered this advice: “A good writer can write about anything and make it interesting.” Laura did that! She made everything so very interesting.

Here are some photos of the day. We weren’t allowed to take photos inside the museum, but we got to see Pa’s fiddle, several clothing items, letters, embroidery and quilts made by the girls. We saw things of Ma’s, too. After a tour of the museum, we got to watch a ten minute film about Laura. The best part was I got to hear Laura’s voice! She sounded just as I’d imagined. We then took a guided tour of her farmhouse and oh, how wonderful it was! It provided so much scope for the imagination, as another literary character would say. I was very surprised to learn that Laura was only 4’11”! Almanzo made her cabinets and counters lower because of this. Every piece of furniture and decoration was hers – there were no replicas. After the tour, I picked up several souvenirs at the bookstore: a magnet, coffee cup, a bio of Laura, a coloring book for the kids, postcards and bookmarks. And to top it off, I got to do it all with one of my best friends, Ava! (A huge Laura fan!)

After the bookstore, we drove a bit down the road to tour the rock house, which was built by Rose Wilder Lane for her parents. They lived there only about 8 years, then moved back to the farm house. They appreciated their daughter’s generosity, but their memories were at the farm house, and that’s where they wanted to be.

Ava and me outside of Laura’s rock house! 🙂 

Our whole family on Laura’s porch.

The farm house on Rocky Ridge.

Gracie (Ava’s daughter) and Laci, holding Gracie’s umbrella. Gracie had on the cutest little prairie girl outfit!

Gracie and her jack-in-the-box.
Going up to the rock house.

Beginning the tour of the rock house. 
My kids in front of the rock house – I loved that door!
Interesting fact: the rock house was the only house with electricity in Mansfield for twenty years, till electricity came to the town. Rose paid extra to have it brought to their home long before the general public had it!
The kids in front of the windows of the rock house. 
Me and Laura in the town square. (It was misty all day, so I look quite bedraggled.)

The plaque beneath the statue of Laura.

Two sleepy kids after an eventful day.

If you are ever near Mansfield, Missouri, stop by and take this tour. It was well worth the low ticket price. And if you haven’t read the Little House books, get to your local library now! 🙂

History Plans

We’ve been out of school for six weeks or so, and I’m already missing the routine! If I had all of our books, I think I would have already begun. However, I’m waiting for a hotel meeting with Abeka in July so I can get free shipping. So, it will be after that before we can start back.

We’ve been filling up our summer with books, books and books! We’ve also been working through as a family a health book called Prudence and the Millers. Lauren is doing the accompanying workbook, called Prudence and Your Health. They’ve been playing outside until the unbearable heat drives them indoors. I’ve gotten several household projects completed, like cleaning the outside of the windows and dusting knickknacks and shelves. Our hope and prayer is that God will send us a car load of cash so we can take a vacation this summer. Could you add that to your prayer list? Yes, just write down “car load of cash for Bashams”. Thanks so much! Okay, that was a joke! But, God could do it, if He wanted to. And yes, I know I don’t “need” a vacation. It is strictly a “want”. 🙂

I had planned to use ACE again for all the kids again this year, until I saw the grand total for their books! Wowza! Lotsa money! As I worked on another project on my summer to do list – organizing my four bookcases – and prayed about what to do, God showed me! I found a bunch of books that I could use or re-use! I also found several that I could sell! I used the cash from the sale of those books and it paid for half of what I needed new! (Which was around $300 total!) Praise the Lord! It looks like I can homeschool four kids for approximately $180! I’m having to buy workbooks for the younger ones and science for my 8th grader, but that’s about it. It is such a blessing! Sometimes, God does send that car load of cash, and other times, He shows you how to earn it yourself. I’m thankful for both methods of provision, and either way, I give Him the glory!

One book I got for my 8th grader’s history this year is called August Caesar’s World by Genevieve Foster. I’m reading it now, so I can write some questions for the material. I’ve found a list of suggested books that go along with this one, but I’ve never read them, nor does our library have them. I wonder if anyone has any reviews or thoughts on these?

Pyramid by David Macaulay
City by David Macaulay
The White Isle by Caroline Dale
The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

I’m definitely including The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth Speare and The Golden Fleece by Padraic Colum. But I’m wondering if the above titles are any good? Boring? Amazing? If you have any thoughts, I’d *really* appreciate them. I’m more of a U.S. history lover, so I’m rather ignorant on the ancient times. However, I’m enjoying filling in this gap very much! I’m sorry I didn’t pay better attention in school. (Thank the Lord for homeschooling! heehee! )

Thanks for helping a girl out, y’all! 😉

Modern Ancient Writing

We’ve been working our way through world history using The Story of the World. It’s new to me to use a book that didn’t come with scripted lesson plans. In fact, recently, it’s been a source of much anxiety and hyperventilating. Yes, ladies and….ladies, I am very much of a text book kind of homeschooling Mom. I enjoy seeing books filled with neatly completed workbook pages. I am sort of a tyrant about it. I wanted to loosen up – JUST A LITTLE – this year.  I found the series of books called The Story of the World, which is a chronological history of the world. It’s a good read. I enjoy it. But then, I’m thirty….one.

To make our study  more interesting, I have tried to think up little projects we can do to help the material stick. We often illustrate what we read and keep it in a binder with our nature walk journal entries. Last week we studied the ancient forms of writing known as hieroglyphics and cuneiform. Hieroglyphics are the stone carvings – drawings –  that the Egyptians did eons ago. Cuneiform was done by the Sumerians. It is writing or drawing done in wet clay and then left to dry. I thought this would make a fun project for us to do, and it could double as art, as well! We used the Crayola Air Dry clay. It resembles real potter’s clay, except you can’t fire it. Once the kids did their “ancient” writing, they made some little pots as well.
Here are a few pics:
Lauren and Mitch working on our version of cuneiform writing.

Lauren really got into it! 🙂

Here’s the best shot of the finished product that I could get. I’m sorry it’s hard to see.They “read” to me what they were drawing , but I can’t remember now! (blushing)

I almost caved and bought a regular history curriculum because I really get nervous when I don’t have everything spelled out for me concerning homeschooling. But, my husband calmed me down, a task with which he is all too familiar, and encouraged me that I could do it. I keep telling myself that I CAN teach my children – without lesson plans – and have fun at the same time. But, I have a feeling that it will take a few more months of “therapy” before I gain confidence. (My poor husband!)

I’m not sure what path our history adventures will take next, but I’ll do my best to keep you posted.
Have you used The Story of the World Volume 1? Have any ideas or tips to share? I’d love to hear from you! Please comment here. 🙂


A Capitol Idea!

On Monday, August 31, our family had a unique opportunity to visit the office of Mark Pryor, one of our United States Senators,to discuss the possibility of his co-sponsoring the Parental Rights Amendment. (My younger kiddos stayed with my Mom for the morning while Terry, I and Lauren made the trip on to Little Rock.) We did not get to met the Senator, but we got to speak with one of his staffers, Ms. Sarah Holland. His office is in downtown Little Rock, about a two hour drive for us. We decided that since we were already going to be in the Capital city, we should visit the capitol building! I had intended to take Lauren for a tour during fourth grade, when we actually studied State History, but the drive, schedules and money stood in our way. I had ordered a free DVD about the building of our state Capitol from our Secretary of State’s office last year. We viewed it the night before our tour. It provided some good background information before we actually made our visit.

I have visited our state Capitol at least twice as a child, but I hardly remember anything from it. I really enjoyed the tour. Probably more than Lauren!

Here are some of the highlights of our trip. Our tour guide, Alexis, was very nice. The best part about the tour is that it was free!

That red speck is me and Lauren is beside me. It’s quite a building!

These bronze doors on the front of the enormous, marble and limestone building. have not been used regularly since 9/11. Aren’t they beautiful?

Lauren is here with our state seal…what a ham! 😉

As you enter our capitol, you must only look up to see this spectacular rotunda!

This portrait of the Honorable Mike Huckabee, our Governor from 1999-2007, hangs in the press room, which is a fancy conference room with a fireplace on each end.

The rotunda on the second floor. A press conference had just been held here right before we arrived.

Looking down at the second floor rotunda from the third floor. I love all the marble! We loved the echo!

The fourth floor is the state senators and representatives offices as well as the entry to the gallery of the house and senate. They have displays of our state symbols here also. Here’s Lauren with our state tree…the Pine!

Here’s our state cooking utensil, the iron skillet!

The tour guide gave Lauren a mini state flag! Isn’t it cute?

She’s thrilled to be photographed with our state mineral – Bauxite. We also learned that we have a state dance..any guesses? The Square Dance! Our state beverage is milk, and our state soil…yes, you read right, we have a state soil. Give up? It’s Stuttgart soil. (That’s a city in northeastern Arknasas in which rice grows by the semi-truck load. It’s the home of Riceland Rice!)Who knew?

We got to ride this very cool, old-timey elavator!

Beside the elevator was a mail chute! We wondered if they still used it, but our tour guide had left to allow us to explore on our own.

The neatest part of the tour almost didn’t happen. We were looking at the gift shop so Lauren could pick up a souvenir, when I struck up a conversation with the cashier. Lo and behold, she used to teach school with my Mom at Bryant Elementary, not far from there! What a small world! In the course of our conversation, she asked us if we had been to the state treasurer’s office…we said no. She told us we could go get our photo made in the state vault – get this – holding $200,000!! How neat! We couldn’t pass that up! 

Here’s a photo of the vault door. It weighs 11 tons!

Lauren looks just a wee bit happy, wouldn’t you say? 😀

Terry made a sad face. I thought he was just doing it to go against the grain, as usual, (haha!) but he said he really was sad. “Why?” I asked him. “Because it’s not my money.”  He may have been frowning, but I look at this and laugh! 😉

I smiled! Not just because I was holding more money than I would ever see at one time in my life, but  also because we’d had a wonderful day together. I love homeschooling because I get to have a front row seat to my children’s learning experiences. I also get to re-live a little bit of my own blissful childhood in the process. It’s a great life!

As we were leaving, the tour guide graciously gave me two CDs with state history curriculum on them! What a blessing! Those will come in very handy!

Have you ever visited your state capitol? You can purchase “Capitol Passports” and have them stamped at each  capitol you visit. It would be a fun thing to do if you travel a lot! You never know what you might get to do, or who you might see at your state capitol!