Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Trail Guide to Learning - Paths to Exploration {Review}

 Geography Matters

We just recently finished up our Trail Guide to Learning - Paths to Exploration curriculum for the year. While I have mentioned it in several posts, I had not yet done a complete review of it.

The Trail Guide to Learning series was written by Debbie Strayer and Linda Fowler.  Their goal was to create a curriculum that was completely based on the teaching philosophy of Ruth Beechick. By doing so they have made a wonderful Charlotte Mason friendly curriculum as well.

homeschool curriculum

The Trail Guide to Learning series includes the following teaching philosophies:
  • develops thinking skills that lead to comprehension and writing ability
  • use the copying and dictation process to acquire language and writing mechanics
  • develops reading and writing skills through history, science, geography, and literature rather than through separate artificial activities
  • gradually connects grammar to reading and writing naturally
  • uses the tutorial approach, thus reducing excess paperwork
  • unifies and focuses the core concepts and knowledge—rather than scattering the focus through untargeted tasks, which often occurs in unit studies
  • builds skills naturally through reflective thinking and discussion

We received the Trail Guides to Learning - Paths of Exploration Complete Package.  That included the two volume set, as well as the readers that accompany this level in the series.  The books included in Paths of Exploration are:

• 2 Volume Set of Paths of Exploration Curriculum with Student Resources CD-ROM
• Meet Christopher Columbus
• Christopher Columbus
• Stories of the Pilgrims (2nd edition)
• Stories of the Pilgrims Answer Key
• Squanto, Friend to the Pilgrims
• A Lion to Guard Us
• Surviving Jamestown
• 5" RealEarth GlobeMap
• Daniel Boone Frontiersman
• Daniel Boone, Young Hunter and Tracker
• Munford Meets Lewis and Clark
• Seaman
• Trouble for Lucy
• Johnny Appleseed
• 1911 Boy Scout Handbook
• United States History Atlas
• Lewis and Clark Hands On
• Going West!
• Handbook of Nature Study
• North American Wildlife Guide
• Profiles from History
• Eat Your Way Around the World
• Classroom Atlas
• Large USA and World Outline Map
• Assessments CD-ROM

We have spent the past year studying the famous explorers and great pioneers of America. With Paths of Exploration we were able to go beyond the page or two that most history books use to explain these great people.  We were able to in depth who they were, and what their goals were.  Not only did we learn about their lives, but we learned great character lessons from them. 

TGTL uses living books.  Books that are nothing short of AMAZING!  Not only did they teach us history, but they are enjoyable.  Yes, enjoyable!  We have not yet encountered a book in this program that we did not thoroughly enjoy.  My girls always have great things to say about their readers, this is always a good sign.  I personally have loved the biographies that we have read.  

Next to the historical fiction and biography books we've read, digging into the North American Wildlife book has been a favorite for everyone! We have learned so much this year just from the nature studies. My kids have fallen in love with beavers and prairie dogs! When ever we are outside and there are fallen trees, Little Bits swears knows there are beavers close by.  I tell him he has Beaver Fever! 

TGTL also incorporates hands on activities.  The activities through out the curriculum have been a wonderful addition to our year.  We have especially enjoyed the cooking and science diagrams.  The animal ID sheets were also a huge hit with my kids. Learning Morse code was also pretty popular.

I think that the Trail Guide to Learning Series is a fabulous and engaging way to study American history! Home schooling with TGTL is something we look forward to. I am sorry we didn't find it sooner.

The Trail Guide to Learning Series is a complete 3 year study of American History, which is broken down into 3 paths. Each path is a full year course that consists of 6, six week unit studies:

  • Columbus (includes people such as Marco Polo, Christopher Columbus, Gutenberg)
  • Jamestown (includes people such as John Smith, Pocahontas, and Leonardo da Vinci)
  • Pilgrims (includes people such as William Bradford, Squanto, and Galileo)
  • Daniel Boone (includes such people as James Cook, Benjamin Franklin, and Handel)
  • Lewis & Clark (includes such people as Sacagawea, Thomas Jefferson, and Mozart)
  • Trails West (includes people such as Johnny Appleseed, Zebulon Pike,    and Jesse Applegate)
  • Growing Pains (includes people such as Samuel Adams, John Audubon and Paul Revere)
  • Freedom Decided (includes people such as George Washington, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin)
  • Nation Building (includes people such as Andrew Jackson, Thomas Jefferson, and Francis Scott Key)
  • House Divided (includes people such as Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, and Clara Barton)
  • Unity Restored (Includes people such as Samuel Francis Smith, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and cowboys of the American West)
  • Sea to Shining Sea (includes people such as Theodore Roosevelt, Will Rogers, and Booker T. Washington)
  • Great Leaps
  • Making Connections
  • Perseverance Pays Off
  • Cultivating Greatness
  • Success Takes Flight
  • Reach for the Stars
 This series in geared toward students in 4-7th grade, but they are easily adaptable for younger and older students. My 1st grade followed this program just fine, with help of course, and he loved it! My little 4 year old even did some of the activities and was in on most of the reading. I just want to encourage you in the fact that this program very flexible and great for multilevel teaching.

For the older crowd, there is a middle school supplement, which we loosely followed for my 7th grader.

Final Thoughts & Favorite Things:
Mom- I loved the open and go feel of this curriculum, all of the hard stuff was done for me. I liked being able to print out the student sheets as we needed them.

I loved that TGTL is not a spoon fed curriculum. My kids were encouraged to think for themselves, and not just regurgitate facts. Loved the discussions!

Teaching from this series, as well as learning myself, was just awesome! Just thinking over the past year with school, it was a huge blessing to use this curriculum.

Lil' Chef - "The books were the best part! Pocahontas and the Captain's Dog were my favorites."
(These were her independent readers from the middle school supplement)

Computer Girl - "I really liked learning about Daniel Boone and Lewis & Clark. I liked learning about what they did, where they went and who they met. You know, their life. Oh, and I love Munford!!"

Alpha Boy - "The Pilgrims were my favorite, no Jamestown, no Daniel Boone. Ok, I just liked it all!"

The Trail Guide to Learning Series is available through Geography Matters. There are several packages available for purchase, including just the teaching guides, the core materials, the resources and complete package. I feel like they have several selections available for different budgets.

There are several bloggers out there that use the Trail Guide to Learning series, you can check them out on my TGTL Blog RollKris over at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers and Sam at Sam's Noggin have also reviewed TGTL. Like me, they both love it!

We received this product at no cost to us in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Kristie Yarbrough said...

Hi, I want to order the trail guide to learning.. part one .. path to exploration.. it says $400 plus shipping.. but when I click place order.. it goes to $800 ... Does anyone know why this is? I do not have 2 in the cart either.. please help!

Brandi said...

Hi Kristie,
I am very sorry to hear that you are having trouble ordering. My suggestion would be to call GeoMatters directly, but I would wait until later this week or early next. Debbie Strayer, TGTL's author, passed away suddenly this past weekend and I am sure they are mourning her loss.
Sorry that I am not much help.



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