As a homeschooling parent, I’m always on the lookout for resources that can make learning more engaging and interactive for my children. One such resource that I’ve recently discovered is Heritage Letter. In this blog post, I’d like to share my experience using this subscription service to supplement our U.S. History homeschool curriculum.
Looking for more resources for your homeschool? Be sure to check out How Night Zookeeper Helped My Son Become a Better Writer and Post from the Past: An Awesome Subscription to Supplement Your Homeschool History Curriculum.
What is Heritage Letter?
Heritage Letter was started by Julie, a former elementary school teacher turned speech writer turned homeschool mom. She and her family deeply love American history and hope to inspire future generations of patriots and history enthusiasts through their letters and online resources.
The company offers two monthly subscription services – Heritage Letter and American Heritage Adventure – that you can receive via snail mail or digitally. Both letter subscriptions are considered non-religious, making them an excellent option for those of us who home-educate through charter schools.
Heritage Letter is written from the perspective of a historical figure, such as George Washington or Oliver Perry, and covers a specific topic, such as the American Revolution or the War of 1812. Each letter includes direct quotes, the historical figure’s signature (if available), a timeline with a historical portrait, and a historical artifact.
I like the use of actual historic portraits and artifacts; it helps bring history to life. I find it so much easier for my kids to understand what happened when they can see the people and artifacts around at the time rather than just read about them in a textbook. The timeline is also a great addition to the subscription, as it helps put events into context.
Next is American Heritage Adventure Letter, which focuses on national parks, historic sites, and other travel locations within the U.S.A. Each letter is double-sided, beautifully illustrated by hand, and written by the fictional character “Lizzy Jane” documenting her travels. It reminds me a lot of Letters from Afar, but U.S.-focused.
In addition to the letter, a souvenir postcard is included, which we absolutely love! We haven’t sent any yet as I’m secretly hoarding them in hopes of one day framing them and decorating our homeschool room after the remodel.
Heritage Letter Online Resources
If you visit the Heritage Letter website, you can access study guides and lesson plans that help bring the letters to life. For example, the American Heritage Adventure Letter study guide about Big Bend National Park includes linked videos about the park, hands-on activities, and an explorer activity. All of this is free and instantly downloadable as a PDF file. My children loved these hands-on activities and found them a fun and engaging way to learn about Big Bend.
The Benjamin Rush lesson plan is written as a blog post and includes links to the letter and study guide, places to visit, books to read, 5 days of lessons with videos, and additional resources. Pretty much everything you need to make an in-depth unit study. It makes me question if we really need to buy a curriculum when we have an excellent resource like Heritage Letter.
How We Use Heritage Letter in Our Homeschool
Each Heritage Letter is well-crafted and directed toward the reader. We use this narrative as a starting point to teach our children about the elements of storytelling, including plot, character, and setting. Additionally, we encourage our children to either write their own stories based on the historical events covered in each letter or write a response to the letter they received. This helps them develop their writing skills while learning about history.
As you might expect, the Heritage Letter subscription service is primarily designed to supplement a U.S. history curriculum. We use these letters to provide a more engaging and interactive way for our children to learn about the different events and figures that shaped our nation. The letters are written from a historical figure’s perspective, which helps make the subject matter more relatable and exciting for our kids.
American Heritage Adventure Letter is a fun way to learn about geography by studying national parks, historic sites, and more around the U.S.A. We like to find the sites on a map and then read up on them. We also like to include interesting facts and stories, and of course, pictures! It has been an adventure every time we open a letter.
We’ve learned about different regions, mountains, animals, plants, and more. We even planned road trips to see the different sites we’ve studied, and we can’t wait for our next real-life adventure!
While not the primary focus of Heritage Letter, there are often opportunities to incorporate scientific concepts into our lessons. For example, the letter about Duke Kahanamoku allowed us to explore the science of surfing and understand scientific concepts such as gravity, buoyancy, net force, and balance. We also dived into the physics involved in turning the board (FYI, it involves moving backward so gravity and buoyancy are out of alignment, creating a torque forcing the board to turn until gravity and buoyancy are realigned.)
While it may not seem obvious, there are opportunities to incorporate math into our lessons with American Heritage Adventure Letter. For example, the letter about the Grand Canyon provided a great chance to talk about measurement and area. I asked my kids to sketch the Grand Canyon, look up its width, length, and depth, and then calculate the area (1,904 square miles, if you’re wondering.) This gave us a chance to get creative while also incorporating math!
Each Heritage Letter includes historic portraits and artifacts, while each American Heritage Adventure Letter is beautifully hand drawn. Both letters make them a great resource for teaching art appreciation. We encourage our children to study the portraits and illustrations and discuss the different techniques that were used to create them. Additionally, some study guides for the letters include hands-on art activities, allowing our children to develop their artistic skills.
Overall, I have been very impressed with the Heritage Letter and American Heritage Adventure Letter subscriptions. They have been a valuable addition to our U.S. history homeschool curriculum, providing engaging and interactive resources that have helped to bring the subject to life. I highly recommend trying these subscription services if you’re looking for a fun and educational way to supplement your homeschool curriculum. They are easy to use, and the variety of activities and topics covered make them well worth the cost.
Have you tried Heritage Letter yet? What are your thoughts on the resource?
Xuan Klevecka is a Southern California-based homeschool mom, wife, and Holistic Homeschool Mindset Coach. She’s an Enneagram 5w4, a lover of good food, and a former middle school history teacher. You’ll either find her looking at road maps and daydreaming about her family’s next epic adventure or perusing recipes and cooking up a feast for the brood.