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The Trail Guide to Learning series is a complete curriculum that teaches every subject except for math, using an integrated approach to develop thinking skills.
What is our educational philosophy? The Trail Guide to Learning series weaves together aspects from Charlotte Mason’s methods of natural education, and incorporates the ideas of Dr. Benjamin Bloom’s research on thinking skills, while fully utilizing the time-tested approach developed by noted author and educator, Dr. Ruth Beechick. Dr. Beechick’s educational philosophy is that developing thinking skills is paramount, learning different subjects (science, history, geography, etc.) is done best in a unified and focused manner, stories are great teaching tools, and that language skills need to be learned in the context of content, not as isolated subjects.
The Integrated Approach We not only cover each subject, but every subject in the Trail Guide relates. It is a natural way of learning as topics flow from one to the other. Children learn best when subjects overlap and build upon a main concept.
For example, in Paths of Exploration, students learn how our country was discovered and explored, from Columbus to the Westward Expansion. While studying the life and explorations of Christopher Columbus, students learn about his travels, read about his life in their literature, map out his treks in their geography, learn how he used the stars for navigation in their science lessons, and tie in activities like making a model ship out of a milk carton. When your child is able to make all these connections, he will have better retention and a deeper understanding of the subject matter.
The more sensory involvement you have with one topic, the more likely you are to remember and use that information. As children learn, they will share their experiences through notebooking, presentations and hands-on activities. Art, cooking, music and games combine to give children a taste of the times and a personal connection with the content that is unmatched by reading alone.
Critical Thinking The Steps for Thinking portion of the Trail Guide serves as a backbone to every lesson and helps tie in the overall theme of each unit. Steps for Thinking addresses main concepts and character qualities from week to week and encourages deeper thinking about those concepts. This section also provides a general framework of thought process and promotes an active approach to learning. It is recommended that you read and discuss each step together at the beginning of your lessons and look for opportunities throughout the week to relate back to those discussions. In doing so, your children will learn to be aware of the bigger picture.
Need More Information? If you have further questions about the Trail Guide curriculae, we encourage you to download our 16-page curriculum overview booklet. It contains more in-depth descriptions of each level, reviews and recommendations, and answers to the most commonly-asked questions.
Paths of Exploration is the first step on the Trail Guide to Learning. Follow famous explorers and pioneers across America and let geography be your guide to science, history, language skills, and the arts. This journey will teach students HOW to think by asking, answering, and investigating questions about our great country’s beginning and growth. The paths of the explorers are seen through multi-disciplinary eyes, but always with the same goals: to make learning enjoyable, memorable, and motivating. This full, one-year course is targeted for grades 3-5 (adaptable for 2nd and 6th).
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Paths of Settlement is the second step on the Trail Guide to Learning. Key events studied include the Colonial Period, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and Westward Expansion. Learn about the accomplishments of great Americans like George Washington and Patrick Henry who built upon the trail blazed by brave explorers. Their actions teach us the principles of freedom and citizenship—founding and expanding our country, strengthening us in times of war and binding us together in times of struggle. This full, one-year course is targeted for grades 4-6, but the lessons can easily be adapted for 3rd and 7th grades.
Paths of Progress is the third step on the Trail Guide to Learning. To grow as a country, another group of leaders had to step forward during our history—scientists and inventors. Study those who used their talents and abilities to answer questions that provided better ways of living and working. The lives of these devoted individuals and their contributions will be examined throughout our history, into the Industrial Revolution and the beginning of the 20th century. Primary science focus involves physical science (such as energy, motion, and work) and the economic impact of each development. Key figures studied include Ben Franklin, Samuel Morse, George Washington Carver, the Wright Brothers, and Thomas Edison. This full, one-year course is targeted for grades 5-7, but the lessons can easily be adapted for 4th and 8th grades.
Journeys Through the Ancient World is the fourth step on the Trail Guide to Learning. This level of the curriculum will transport your students into four important early civilizations—Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Rome. Astronomy, world view comparisons, typing, Hebrew, geography, and language skills are included in each of four, nine-week units. The Bible is an essential part of this study, as both an historical and a literary text. This full, one-year course is targeted for grades 6-8.
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