Oh, my goodness, I can't describe my excitement for using this, the core curriculum for our next year, starting in a couple weeks! Let me describe what it is. Geography Matters publishes this all-in-one curriculum for 3rd through 5th grade, with supplements available for higher middle school grades. In these two volumes, called Paths of Exploration, there are six units- Columbus, Jamestown, Pilgrim, Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark, and the Oregon Trail. After this year, there are TWO more year long packages also, explaining more of our country's founding, etc. If this year goes well, if the curriculum works well with the way we operate our homeschool, if the kids like the lessons enough, we will continue on using the Trail Guide to Learning series.
So, for each of the six units there are 6 lessons split up into a week for each lesson. I do think six weeks for each unit is a little too long for studying ONE thing, although, it really isn't just studying all about Columbus or Jamestown, but the reading lasts that long about that certain subject. Here are a few reasons why this curriculum jumped out at me:
1. All In One: although it is all-in-one, and includes reading, writing, critical thinking, geography, history, art, science, and more, I don't think it is enough in certain areas- such as science. It could be enough for some families, but for us, no. Also, I enjoy so many other books and plans and ideas, I end up adding to this, but it is easy to add to and take away from.
2. The set up of lesson plans: simple, broken down well, appropriate for several grades.
3. The lesson plans themselves: wonderful thinking ideas are encouraged, a natural learning is implemented, and the sequence and rhythm are efficient
4. The series of subjects studied: I feel they are perfect for a third grader and a first grader, to learn together, or review, as in Ella's case.
5. It is loosely based around literature, and living books, which is important in my view of a well rounded education. Here is a VERY quick rough run-down on what we will work on from this particular unit:
The very first week of the first unit, Columbus, we will have begun reading at least two books, become reacquainted with the compass and globe as a review, take an imaginary trip, draw maps, create rug designs, work with a Venn Diagram, draw, and journal- and more! The second week, more map skills are studied, as well as oceans, and the art of labeling on maps, explorer investigation, and lots of sentence skills reviewed. In the third lesson, we study ships, more globe skills and definitions, cloud observation, and dictionary skills. The fourth lesson involves climate map exercises, comparing information, poetry reading, planet study, shading lesson, sun experiment, and antonyms. The fifth lesson, we continue on with some space study, with the sun and star observation, poetry writing, star map making, myths, animal studies, drawing and tracing. The next lesson introduces studies of the moon and and more explorers, and preparing for a presentation. At the end of each unit are enrichment activities, suggested videos or books, and games. A very full unit, indeed!
I think it very interesting that in the second half of this curriculum we will use the Boy Scout Handbook from the beginning of the 1900s! Also, the North American wildlife guide is a beautiful, packed book of information for your child to experience. I found myself constantly pulling the books out for this study. As we begin and go deeper into Paths of Exploration, I will be sure to check back here and relay our thoughts, for as it a newer package out there, it can be hard to get a feel for what it is like for your own family.