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Paths of Exploration Columbus Unit Lesson 2

Paths of Exploration Columbus Lesson 2



As you know we are using Paths of Exploration by Trail Guide to Learning for our summer all-inclusive curriculum. This article is focused on Paths of Exploration Columbus Unit Lesson 2. If you missed the other posts, click here to see all posts tagged with “Paths of Exploration”. This past week, we studied all of Lesson 2 of Columbus and I’m thrilled to say we were able to do this entire lesson in one day (about 4 hours or so).  They had the rest of the week to do their homework and independent tasks. I am very pleased with the transition of leaving the “busy work” behind and focusing on the curriculum areas that my boys are learning and not just doing review!!  

I’ll cover each Part of Lesson 2 below.  

Section A. Copywork/Dictation.  The copy / dictation for Part 1 was the last stanza of the original poem “A Journey of Adventure”.  For the rest of Lesson 2 they are all coming from the read-aloud sections. 

Sections B and C: Reader and Read-Aloud. Focuses on  “Language Skills and Thinking Skills”. We read a great deal in the read-alouds and are so excited to be making significant progress now.  As always, I had my boys take turns reading aloud from Meet Christopher Columbus and I read Christopher Columbus.   


Meet Christopher Columbus         Christopher Columbus

Dr. Seuss CollectionSection D: Word Study. For Part 1, this section focused on how rhyming words have the same ending sounds. The study recommended reading the original poem “A Journey of Adventure” and finding rhymes, but Dr. Seuss books are more fun!  In Part 2, POE focuses on “ex” and how it is spelled. The spelling words all have “ex” as a prefix. In part 3, they use the same “ex” words and now we are looking at them from a vocabulary perspective. I love that they provide clues and the children have to figure out what word goes with what clue. There are even a couple left off for our children to create their own clues to match up. The meaning of “longed” is presented and POE then asks questions and suggests using this word as a creative writing prompt for the children to write a few sentences about something they have longed for. In Part 4, the students read about the word “finally” and are encouraged to use it with the earlier creative writing prompt from Part 3 to create a paragraph about something they have longed for.  

Geography. (Note:  Not every Part of each lesson has Geography as “Section E”. In Part 3 of this Lesson it is Section F, so I’m going to stop labeling the Section A, B, C, etc. Instead I’m going to start labeling the sections just by title.) Focusing on “History, Thinking Skills and Art”. POE loves their maps… in Part 1, they are drawing a neighborhood map. One thing I love about POE is that the student workbook that you print has all the notebooking pages already set up where the children go and record their work. Love that! Part 2 does not have Geography. Part 3 does “geography” … but it is not geography…. it is a discussion about worldview!  I love that this topic is in the book… but I would not have put it in geography. Oh well. The focus is on how Christopher Columbus’ worldview was developed. GREAT discussion topic with our children. Part 4 is all about oceans. There are a bunch of hands-on activities I would add to study oceans.  Here are just a few ideas! They have a fabulous World Ocean matching cards. Has a FABULOUS Ocean study for lower / upper elementary students.  I love the “Appreciating Oceans’ Importance to Life on Earth” section!  

Felt Water CycleIf you have not already introduced the water cycle, this would be a great place to do so!  I did a post on creative ways to teach about weather and the water cycle here.  I love the idea of having our children create a felt water cycle. 



Speaking / Presentation Skills Section:   This is a new section in Part 1 and it is focusing on “Language Skills and Thinking Skills”. It is essentially training and practice for reciting or memorizing the original poem “A Journey of Adventure”.  Two of my boys will by using it for reciting.  Gage, my 12 year old wrote a poem that I will discuss in more detail in the Enrichment Activities Section below. But for now, I’ll just mention that Gage will be reciting his own poem.  This section went into detail about how to present the poem… good information!  

History Section:   This is another new section it is found in Part 2 and is focusing on “Thinking Skills”. In this section, we discussed what qualities it takes to be an explorer. The POE text asks questions that prompt discussion but there is also a place to record their answers in their student notebooks.  

Five Senses ActivitiesScience Section:   In Part 3, the science section focused on “Thinking Skills and Art”. This section focused on our senses. It is exploring our senses through spices. We created a fabulous Name that Spice game in Lesson 1. If you haven’t already created this game, now would be a great time to do so!  The exploration of our senses is one of the most fun studies you can do with younger students.  If you haven’t already started exploring your senses and really focusing on what information each provides us daily, now is a great time to introduce those lessons. This is a great roundup to start with!

Drawing Section:  This is another new section that was introduced in Part 2 and is focusing on “Science and Art”. This section reminds me of a Charlotte Mason style approach to nature observation. This section focused heavily on methodical observation and quiet and drawing what you saw. Loved how this drawing section was wrapped in some great scientific method and structure. We really enjoyed this section. If your children love it too… you might consider getting them a nature journal or sketch book. My children took Art 1 (charcoal pencil drawing) last year in our homeschool co-op. But whatever you do, I highly encourage you to help them develop this skill! 

Independent Reading:  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we modified this reading section a bit so the boys will focus their reading on anything about Christopher Columbus for 30 minutes a day. This is working out well. I wrote a post to share what our library resources we have, you can find it here.

Part 5 of Lesson 2 is again all about catch up for the previous four parts, but also it has the Enrichment activities here.  THIS is where we really try to bring the entire lesson to a meaningful wrap-up. POE has some suggestions here such as:

Profiles in History Volume 1On the large outline map, label Portugal, Spain and the five oceans.  

Complete the Word Scramble located in your Student Notebook (which my boys loved). 

Read Marco Polo in Profiles from History.  There are many timeline activities that go with the study. If you have the time, I think it is so valuable for our children to be able to see characters and events on a timeline.  

These are the official Enrichment Activities:

1.  Look for poetry about maps, travel or specific countries or places. Present the poems to yourCropped Sailing Ships (c.1886-1890) - Constantinos Volanakis family by memorizing them or just reading them aloud. You can also illustrate the poetry with drawings or photos. Instead of finding a poem someone else wrote, I assigned my 12 year old son, Gage, the project of writing a poem for this enrichment activity. He did a beautiful job!!   You can find his poem, The Ship’s Journey here.  

I know I have mentioned that we studied IEW this past school year and how much I love this curriculum!   And just as an FYI, I am not affiliated with IEW in anyway nor do I receive compensation from them or free curriculum (Although I would LOVE to change that)!  🙂 I just love their curriculum! You can see my review I wrote about our IEW experience here.

2.  Read about the country of Portugal. Tell others what you have learned. Take what you know about Spain and compare it to what you have learned about Portugal. I assigned my 13 year old son this activity.  He did a Venn Diagram of the similarities and differences of these two countries.  This is a great way to introduce the use of compare and contrast into your homeschool.  

3.  Have you ever been on a boat or a ship?  Draw a picture or write about the boat or ship that you were on.  You could also make up a story about a boat or ship you would like to go on.  Make sure you include what makes travel on the water different from other ways to travel.  I assigned this project to my 9 year old son. We actually did do some sailing a couple of years ago on an extended trip to the coast of NC.  Here is another opportunity to compare and contrast (modes of travel).  Blake wrote a 5 paragraph IEW essay about our sailing trip and it includes pictures from our trip. You can read it here!     

Eat Your Way around the WorldFinally we are wrapping up this lesson with our Eat Your Way Around the World Cooking exercise. We cooked all the recipes from Spain which included: Gazpacho, Torrijes (bread pudding) and Paella!  Gazpacho is Cold soup?  I was keeping an open mind, and since we encourage being food pioneers in our home, I had to model the food pioneer behavior… But I have to tell you that was not anything I’ll be eating again. None of the recipes from Spain wowed me.  This is the first set of recipes that I haven’t liked but Spain is not the country I’ll be heading to first if I ever am able to actually travel around the world!  

I hope these summaries and activities that I add to our curriculum are a blessing to you and your family.  All I ask is that you share my blog and the posts if you enjoy and appreciate them! And, as always, leave me a message letting me know how you are using POE and what you are doing to augment the curriculum to fit your own homeschool!  I look forward to reading your ideas and comments!  

Until next time…


Spring Weather Hands-on Study


@Sarah Jane Studios:  April Showers.  Used with Permission.

@Sarah Jane Studios: April Showers. Used with Permission.

We’ve all heard the phrase “April Showers Bring May Flowers” right about this time of year.  Out of curiosity  I did a bit of research on the quote (’cause that is what homeschool moms do… we research and then teach what we learn to our children, right?).  Anyway, I discovered this often quoted proverb usually leaves out the first part, which is the month of March.  Here is the full quote (per wikipedia):

March winds and April showers bring forth May flowers

It was first recorded in 1886, and is a common expression in English- speaking countries.

Wind in March is an understatement these days!  I don’t know about your area, but Spring usually brings with it some crazy weather here in West TN!  And this week has been a perfect example of the unpredictable weather!  Sunday, March 17th, we worked in our garden and I uncovered all of our strawberry plants after discovering our first strawberry blossoms peaking out.  Well, last night, March 21st, The National Weather Service issued a Winter Weather Advisory for SLEET for my area tonight!  THIS is typical spring weather for us!  

So, for the Montessori Mom’s Spring Montessori Blog Hop topic I decided to focus on the weather of Spring.  

To introduce this characteristic of unpredictable spring weather to younger students it is really just a matter of actually paying attention to the weather.  This Weather Tracking work is perfect for Early Childhood / Primary students.  It is so easy to make!  You need four jars that are the same size, a “weather” card tied to each jar with the weather word and an image that exemplifies that weather event, and some “thing” to put in the appropriate jar for each day that has that weather.  You could track the weather for any length of time, but for younger students, a week is a great “long project” for them.  At the end of the week, you could show them how to create a simple bar graph with the “things” from the jars lined up above the picture labels.

Montessori Design Weather Tracking Work

Weather Tracking Montessori Design



Another option to show just how unpredictable Spring weather really is pull historical weather data.  You could pull data for one specific day, say March 15th, for a series of years or a specific week for a series of years.  You might track the high temperature for that day, low temperature for that day, the amount of precipitation, wind speed, etc.  Just remember, the more variables, the more complex to graph the data.  The access historical date, I found that Wunderground has an historical data link where you can search by date all the way back to 1948!  Depending on the age of your child, graphing this data would be a great visual to understand the data and, in the process, teach them about different ways to display data.  Just remember the more variables to track and dates you track it for, the more complex the chart!  (Wouldn’t this be a fun activity for your child to do for their birthdays throughout their life?)  For younger students, you can use a graph with pictures like this one I found at Funaslearning:

FunAsLearning Weather Chart

FunAsLearning Weather Graph















or for older students, you can use an advanced graph like this one found on

Weather Graph - Advanced

Advanced Weather Graph











or go somewhere in between like this one from North Conway Weather.  Also, you can bring in some math here by discussing ratios. How many days out of the total days researched had rain? had sunshine? etc. 

Spring is also a great time to do a cloud study.  Montessori Etc. Has some of the most beautiful and FREE Types of Cloud nomenclature card sets for the study of clouds:

Types of Clouds Etc Montessori

Etc Montessori Types of Clouds











I don’t think any science study is complete without an experiment!  So I have to add at least one 🙂  This one would be fun for any age student …Making your own rain.  I first saw this experiment on Pinterest.  Weather Wiz Kid originally published it, but here it is with pictures of the different phases of the experiment on

Making it Rain from

Making it Rain from













To bring another dimension to your study of Spring weather, Handbook of Nature Study Blogspot does a fabulous job of bringing art and journaling in with their Seasonal Weather Study project.  Students are conducting some research, spending time outside and drawing what they see.  You can find her post here and her Seasonal Weather Study project here.  All of this website’s experiments and studies are based off the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock If you don’t have this book, it is one of the absolute best books on nature study and experiments.  I highly recommend it!  

Finally, no weather study would be complete with a discussion of the water cycle. This felt water cycle looks easy enough to make and would be a great project for the students to make and give a presentation on!  I love how felt “sticks” to each other, but to save money, it could certainly be made from construction paper!  

Felt Water Cycle

Felt Water Cycle










To help students remember details about the water cycle, here is a catchy little Water Cycle song.  This version is being performed by a precious 4 year old at a Montessori School:


Here are the words and hand movements that go with the water cycle song:  

(Sing it to the tune of She’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain)

Water travels in a cycle, yes it does 
(use pointer finger to make a big circle)

Water travels in a cycle, yes it does
(repeat finger circle)

It goes up as evaporation
(moves hands up to the sky)

Forms clouds as condensation
(make a cloud overhead with arms)

Then comes down as precipitation, yes it does!
(sprinkle with fingers while bringing arms down in front of you)

And last but not least, here is a Free Water Cycle Study by Montessori Materials:  

Water Cycle Montessori Materials

Water Cycle Montessori Materials










For older students, I encourage my children to research and dig deeper with this Exploring Weather with Blooms unit. 

(By the way, isn’t the introduction picture for this post just adorable?!  I contacted Sarah Jane to get permission to use this image for this blog hop, it just goes with a post about spring weather!  She has the most adorable artwork at  Isn’t she amazingly talented!?!  I guess when you lack in the creative arts department, you appreciate talent even more!!   (And no, she is not a sponsor nor am I financially benefiting from saying this  🙂  )

Montessori in the Springtime Blog Hop
Please join us for the Montessori Spring Blog Hop! You can link up your Montessori-inspired spring posts anytime during the next 30 days. 


Hosted by:
Confessions of a Montessori Mom

Creative Care
The Education of Ours

JDaniel4’s Mom
Live And Learn Farm
Living Montessori Now
Making Montessori Ours
Montessori Messy
Montessori Nature’s Smile
Montessori on a Budget
Montessori Tidbits
Natural Beach Living
Our Montessori Home

Smiling Like Sunshine

We’ve Got Good News and Bad News

We’ve got good news and bad news.  First, the good news!  We have a small farm where we raise registered Jersey cows.  We had another first today… One of our Jersey cows, Buttercup, had her first calf.  This calf is also the first “second generation” calf born on our farm.  Girls are prized in the Jersey Dairy world… so we are very excited that Buttercup’s calf is a heifer (girl), we think.  My boys named her Matzah because the Feasts of Pesach and First Fruits are coming up and we eat Matzah bread for the feasts.  When we discussed the irony of her being two first born’s (Buttercup’s and the farm’s first second generation calf) they decided the name should focus on something that pertained to First Fruits.  I love the fact that our boys know about, understand and get excited about keeping the Biblical feasts!  What a blessing!  So, without further adieu, meet Matzah:

new calf, we named her Matzah

Jersey Calf: Matzah

Isn’t she just adorable?  And she looks like she might be a red heifer 🙂  Look that one up in scripture!    ‘Course it could be that she is still wet … tomorrow, I’ll head down there to see if she is still this red!  


On a more somber note, we lost Cooter Brown yesterday. The first day we saw the rooster, we could not catch him or lure him into the pen.  The second day we managed to catch him and put him in the pen with Rocky and the ladies (hens).  That didn’t go well, so we moved him to the other pen.  We put fresh water and lots of crumble and scratch in there to keep him happy and full.  The next morning, we discovered that Cooter Brown had “flown the coop”.  We decided to just open up the pen and let him come and go as he pleased with food and water in the pen for him.  It was that or just not try to keep him!  We saw him first thing yesterday morning, in the pen. Unfortunately, he chose to wander… and something got him in our field yesterday afternoon.

Ironically, another biblical principal was taught with this unfortunate incident. When we willfully choose to walk outside of Abba’s protection, we are vulnerable.  Our boys saw a vivid reminder of this.  They knew full well the extent of the actions we took to try to keep and protect Cooter Brown. But ultimately, it was his choice that led to his demise and it is the same for us.

We have witnessed the full life-cycle occur in the span of 24 hours here on our farm.  All teachable moments…  Teaching children about death is never easy!  But, in nature and on a farm, children experience both death and life, decay and renewal.  And not only do they learn these are a part of the life-cycle, they see the examples.  I know many parents are uncomfortable talking about death, but I think we do children a huge disservice if we do not help them work through death and loss.  Isn’t that our job, to help them learn these difficult concepts in a loving and supportive environment.  Our job is not to shield them from reality!  Here, on the farm, ignoring the topic is not an option…  

So… Today was going to be catch up day.  My middle son is trying to get caught up on some of his recent science experiments that he is behind on … instead of working on experiments, today, he got to experience science (biology) live and in-person.  Live and Learn Farm… yep, the name fits!



Matzah is no longer red!!!

Updated... Matzah 1 day old

Updated… Matzah 1 day old



Apologia Exploring Creation with Botany Supplemental Resources

Apologia Botany edited 2

Apologia Exploring Creation with Botany Supplemental Resources.  We modify traditional homeschool curriculum to make it more Montessori, more hands-on.  Apologia Botany was one of the easiest curriculums to accomplish this with.  This curriculum seemed to dovetail perfectly with the Montessori Botany works.  If you have students that like to do workbooks, they have one.  Although we did not use it.  I’ll detail how we did this below. First let me reiterate here, Apologia is such a well-rounded and full curriculum, you would not have to add one thing to their curriculum for it to be a full science curriculum. These additions are not because this curriculum lacked a thing… it is because we chose to teach our children with a Montessori pedagogy… which is a LITTLE (not a lot) more hands-on. At the link below, not only will you find the Table of Contents, but you will also find a sample chapter for botany. Go check it out, you will understand what I mean about not needing to add much to this curriculum.

Before starting, I highly recommend you first read Michael Olaf’s description  of Montessori Botany from 0 – 12 years old.  It really helps us have a goal in mind when teaching Botany.  Maria Montessori said it so beautifully:

How often is the soul of man, especially that of the child, deprived because one does not put him in contact with nature.

There is no description, no image in any book, that is capable of replacing the sight of real trees, and all the life to be found around them, in a real forest. Something emanates from those trees which speaks to the soul, something no book, no museum is capable of giving. The wood reveals that it is not only the trees that exist, but a whole, interrelated collection of lives. And this earth, this climate, this cosmic power are necessary for the development of all these lives.

The myriad lives around the trees, the majesty, the variety are things one must hunt for, and which no one can bring into the school. — Maria Montessori

Now that you understand what we are trying to accomplish and I have pointed you to the foundation of a botany curriculum, lets dive into Apologia Exploring Creation Botany curriculum.  Here is a link to the Apologia Table of Contents

I have copied the details from the Table of Contents onto this post to make it easy to reference the supplemental works (if any) that we used for each section. One of the first things we (my best friend and I) made were the nomenclature (3 part cards) for each chapter. I will create a link for these at each of the chapter headings below.

Botany Lesson 1 (note, I have to upload them as pdfs, the word files are too large). A large part of Lesson 1 is introducing language and concepts, so there will not be much in addition to the nomenclature cards for this lesson). I will do my best to provide free resources, but some of the works we used were not free, I will link to the products that we used if you choose to purchase them.

  • Gymnosperms
  • Seedless Vascular Plants
  • Nonvascular Plants
  • What Do You Remember?
  • Notebook Activity


 Project Note:  Some Items above are linked to my Amazon affiliate account.  The very small amount of money that we make from our affiliation with Amazon is used to augment our curriculum needs.  Some photos shared are courtesy of Amazon.

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