Monday, September 7, 2015

Trail Guides for Learning

In my daughter’s 3rd grade year we used Paths for Exploration. My daughter loved it. I was a little nervous about it because of all the reading that was involved but she LOVED it. She really got into reading about real people, real explorers. We started with Christopher Columbus and went on to study John Smith, The Pilgrims, Daniel Boone, Lewis and Clark (and Pocahontas) and Johnny Appleseed. 

When my daughter is asked in her class what subject she likes best she always answers history.  This is a change from science to history.  What I really like about the Trail Guide for Learning series is that it incorporates reading, language arts, science, geography and history into unit studies.  She doesn’t feel like she is doing a lot of busy work because it is all tied together. 

She has retained the information and loves sharing her new knowledge with others. Being a mom and a her educator I love watching as she takes ownership of the information that she has learned to share it with others.

We did a number of hands on activities throughout the year. Some of the activities we went in search of and other activities were suggested by the curriculum.

This year that my daughter is doing the study Paths of Settlement. This year we are looking at the challenges that our country has faced to be a settled country. In the beginning we are looking at the events leading up to the American Revolution and the American Revolution War.  These are the first two units in our 6 unit study. We will go on to learn about the Civil War and up to the turn of the century.

She will get to have some hands on crafts. One of the exciting things we are going to do is make hand dipped candles. We were supposed to do in the last 6 weeks but we got a bit busy.  But this is a craft that we are all looking forward to. 


What does a typical day look like with Trail Guides??

I know that this is what you really want to know. Is this doable for your child or your family? 

1. Copy work or Dictation: This is where she gets a passage to copy out of one of the books she is reading.  If they are an older child then they can have the passage read to them. My daughter just copies the passage. This works better for her and her ability level. The other reason she does this is because she is able to do this while I am working with her younger brother. 

2. Reading: This is where she reads out of the book she reads on her own. When she was in 3rd grade she read out loud to me. This year she is reading independently and then telling me what has happened in her reader. Again, this is something that she can do while I am working with her younger brother.

3. Read-Aloud: This the the time where I read to her from another book. In 3rd grade it was just one book and this year we are reading 2 books together.  I may be changing the order we do this one but we also have a discussion. 

4. Spelling or Word Study – This is where they focus on different words and how to spell them. This is also where we learn about prefixes and suffixes and vocabulary words. 

5. History and Science trade days and when the subjects are covered. In 3rd grade it also rotates with Geography.  History is looking at what is going on in our readers and applying it to what is happening in history at that time.  In 3rd grade Science focused on animals and plants that explorers would have encountered on their journeys.  Science this year is more earth science focused such as weather and rocks. 

6. States – in 4th grade she is learning about 2 states a week.  Day 1 of the state she maps out the important landmarks.  On day 2 she looks in the atlas and finds important information such as the abbreviation, state flower and bird as well as unique facts. 

7. Writing and Doing. Some days she writes in a journal format. Other days she gets to work on watercolor painting or specific crafts that are related to the unit. 

8. The majority of the work takes place Monday – Thursday. Friday is our catch up day and also test day for her Math work that is not included in curriculum. 


  1. Did you actually do all of lesson one , all 5 parts in one day?? or did you break them up?

    1. We do copy work, reading, word study and history or science in one day. It seems like a lot but it really is very manageable. All of this takes about 2 hours to do in one day. I hope that helps.

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