State the Facts was written by Mary Ellen Tedrow, who noticed the need for a quality resource to assist parents with studying state history. This study guide was written to give students the tools needed to understand the different facets of their state. It was written to be used with any state, and is for ages 8+ so it's suitable for almost the entire family. Although it certainly appears to be geared towards the needs of elementary students based on the size and spaces for writing, I think it can be used into middle or even high school for students who've never had a true state history course. It requires research that can easily be individualized, but also because the book has a clean appearance without any cutesy illustrations or graphics that books for younger students often have.
The study guide starts by encouraging the child to call their librarian or other people in the community to ask for help on their project. I think being able to reach out to others (even if your child adapts the phone script and writes a letter or sets up a meeting/interview instead) is a great way to work on communication skills and teach children independence.
As you might expect, the guide includes the basics like identifying and drawing the state flag, bird and tree, and gathering information about natural resources. However, it goes far beyond the basics and helps the child look at their state in a unique way. For instance, it asks the child to learn about the difference between a state and a commonwealth when identifying their statehood. Also, there is a good focus on science when doing the nature study activities, charting weather for a month and comparing weather patterns with another state during the same month, or when interviewing people about natural disasters. To me, this isn't just about facts, but allowing the child to own their experience as a resident of the state.
Another thing I really like about this study is that it truly is student-driven. Instead of a list of famous people to choose from and "fill in the blank" responses about the chosen person, State the Facts asks the student to choose two women and two men (which truthfully may force some children to choose people they might not otherwise have researched) that have contributed to the state, and to actually write about them. Another section asks for famous people from the state who contributed to the country--author, scientist, president, inventor. I also love the Days Gone By and the Then and Now sections, which allow children to compare historical aspects of the state with what they experience in the present. My 9 year old is interested in antiques, so seeing a local antique store on the suggested places to look for old pictures was great!
Any homeschooling family knows that field trips are an engaging way to bring studies to life, but I think they're even more important for learning state and local history. I love that there are tips for compiling field trip notes/ideas, but at the end of the book there is another list of Suggestions for Field Trips. An idea I really liked is that when she mentioned local businesses, it wasn't just a suggestion to take a tour, but instead find out how state and local laws affect the business, as well as state taxes. These little ideas help make this course even more appropriate for older students.
Older students could use this as an independent study. The only disadvantage an older student would have is that there is not enough space for the amount of writing that would be expected of a more advanced student. Elementary students will need more parental oversight, but it's still easy for the study to be student-driven. It is a consumable book, so children will each need their own copy if working independently.
State the Facts: A Guide to Studying Your State easily meets our needs for state history and local/state government as required under the homeschool statute, and I imagine it should meet the requirements of most states for these subjects. Parents can do an in-depth study all at once, or spread the book out slowly and study state history alongside American history. I think it's flexible enough to use any way that meets the needs of your homeschool. I believe it's an excellent starting point for any state history course, and I'm glad we're able to use this book!
Lauralwood Books caries many interesting products and curricula, and allowed the crew to also review the Patriotic Penmanship series, Scripture Scribes, and Olim, Once Upon a Time in Latin, so be sure to check out all the reviews!