Are you looking for an elementary American history curriculum? Check out Sonlight’s newly-updated literature-based US history homeschool curriculum for ages 9-12.

Do you know how the Declaration of Independence begins?

When I was in college, this was a trivia question posed in my Intro to Speech class. We were asked to choose between, “When in the course of human events” and “We the people of the United States.” Most of my classmates went with the second option. But I knew it had to be the first — “We the people” is how the preamble to the Constitution starts.

I knew this for a fact because — like any good child of the 80s — I watched School House Rock hundreds of times. My 8th grade history teacher played the Preamble video for us at the beginning of every class for the entire year. 30 years later, I still have it memorized. (And I’ve sung it enough over the past ten years that my kids know it, too.)

Recently, as I began to choose our curriculum for next year, I realized we’ve never done an “official” early US history course together. We’ve spent a lot of time learning about the American Revolution, thanks to the  Liberty’s Kids series. We’ve also discussed different time periods of American history on our travels around the United States. 

(Just last month, we went to Fort Moultrie in Charleston, located just a few miles away from Fort Sumter. On the same trip,  we visited both the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in Kentucky and his final resting place in Illinois. These real-world learning experiences are one of our family’s favorite ways to homeschool.)


Elementary American History Review


My kids also love to read, so they’ve gleaned a lot of historical facts from Jenny L. Cote’s fiction series, the American Girl books, and Dan Gutman’s Flashback Four books. Still, I knew it was time to work through a complete US history curriculum to fill in some of the gaps.

For the past two school years, we have used literature-based history curriculum. We’ve covered modern US and world history (starting with the Civil War) and ancient history. This coming year, my 6th grader will be working her way through Sonlight’s History/Bible/Literature D: Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2.

I received a free copy of this product and was compensated for my time writing the review, but all opinions are my own! Read our full disclosure policy here.

Sonlight  is a complete, Christian literature-based homeschool curriculum developed for students from preschool through high school. Their fully-planned curriculum uses a variety of educational resources including literary fiction and nonfiction, biographies, and more to deliver an engaging and complete education that extends beyond textbooks and memorization.

Thankfully, Sonlight can help us reach our homeschooling goals, while holding fast to our educational philosophy:


  • good books,
  • hands-on activities,
  • and family adventures

Why Sonlight American History?


My 6th grader is a driven, self-motivated child who shares my love of reading. As we begin the transition from the early years of homeschooling to the more independent middle school years, I’m glad we have (at least) one more year of snuggling up on the couch every morning to start our day with a good book. And wow, does Sonlight’s American History have some fantastic books!


Sonlight Intro to American History Year 1 of 2

Even though my kids are certified bookworms, most of the books included in the elementary American History pack will be first-time reads for our family! I am seriously so excited to dive into classics like The Sign of the Beaver, Johnny Tremain, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, and more. 

And look at all these other resources: a spiral-bound timeline book, a huge laminated map with markers for geography, even a Bible and music CD!

With my oldest child starting high school, a large portion of my day will be spent teaching Algebra, Biology, and British Literature. Working my way through Intro to American History with my youngest will give us something special that’s just ours. (Even though she generally prefers during her school work independently, that doesn’t mean she wants to do every subject alone.)

“I like all the humor in Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales: Alamo All-Stars, a book I have read several times since the box arrived. My favorite part is when one of the characters describes getting a bloody nose using scientific terms.

I really love reading graphic novels. This one is special to me since I was born in Texas, where the story takes place.

K, age 10

Literature-Based Elementary History

Benefits of Sonlight’s Elementary American History


  • Complete and Ready to Go!

The last few months, I have planned an entire literature course for my 9th grader — including sourcing used copies of the books, AV materials, and additional resources. Honestly, it’s a relief to have all the Intro to American History books and teacher’s guide ready to go for my 6th grader. At this point in our homeschooling journey, it’s exactly what I need.


  • Integrated Subjects

Three subjects in one? Coming from a unit study background, I love that we can cover American history and geography right along with literature and our study of the Bible using Sonlight’s curriculum! (Chances are good we can slip in a little creative writing, too.)


  • 4 Days a Week

Sonlight has both 4- and 5-day curriculum options available, and I am really excited for the 4-day option. Having one day free each week for hands-on learning, field trips, and online classes is perfect for our family.



Who is Sonlight American History best for?


  • A busy parent who needs open-and-go curriculum. 

When my kids were little (and napping regularly), I loved planning our lessons from scratch and putting unit studies together. The options for playful, hands-on learning are endless for preschool and elementary-age learners! But as my kids have gotten older, I have realized that I do not have time to plan 16 lessons a day, 5 days a week. 

Our younger daughter spent the first five or so years of her education learning everything right along with her older sister, with just a few minor modifications. As they’ve grown, they’ve started choosing different courses. For the last couple of years, history has been our only combined family subject. Now, for the first time, both kids will have two entirely different  course loads. Open and go curriculum sounds great for my weary mind!


  • A family with multiple children in the 9-12 age range.

As I mentioned, I loved using family curriculum (or as Sonlight calls it, ‘couch subjects’) when my kids were in the same stages of learning. A family who can use this curriculum with more than one child — either all at once or over multiple years — will definitely be getting their money’s worth! There is nothing that says, “This is for 5th grade.” Several children in the same family can work through it together, with the help of read-alouds and a variety of independent readers.


  • Someone who prefers a more traditional approach to learning. (Or not.)

At first glance, Sonlight curriculum seems more structured than I’m used to. The teacher’s guide has so much detail that it’s almost scripted. Parents brand-new to teaching will likely really love the support. Tired, experienced homeschoolers with more tasks than hours will, too!

The more I’ve thought about it, I see how Sonlight’s History/Bible/Literature could work well with a variety of homeschooling approaches. (Obviously, there’s the quality literature instead of dry, outdated textbooks.) It would be quite easy to pack along a couple of books for a day of learning outdoors. And the four-day schedule leaves plenty of room for interest-based rabbit trails and project-based learning.


If you are looking for a complete, literature-based US history curriculum for your elementary or middle-grade student, consider Sonlight’s updated Intro to American History, Year 1 of 2. Just click this button for all the details!

Sonlight Giveaway!

Enter to win Sonlight’s newly updated 2022 History / Bible / Literature Level D program. One (1) lucky winner will be selected on/around Aug 31.


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