Paths of Exploration Columbus Unit Lesson 3

Paths of Exploration Columbus Lesson 3   Disclosure 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 3. If you missed the other posts, click here to see all posts tagged with “Paths of Exploration”. This was a great lesson! There was quite a bit of new information and some fun hands on activities for this one!  So let’s get right to the way I implemented Lesson 3.

You’ve heard this a few times now, we don’t do the copywork or dictation, so Section A we totally skipped.  

Reading.  The boys read aloud pages 27 – 37 in Meet Christopher Columbus. This is really good experience for all children to practice reading aloud. The boys are getting more and more comfortable with this activity.  I read pages 45 – 69 in Christopher Columbus.  They are really getting to see how the detail of my read aloud is giving them a much better mental image than their reading in Meet Christopher Columbus and giving them ideas on how to use picturesque words in their own writing. We talked about how long Columbus waited for his opportunity to sail west. And how in today’s “NOW” generation how many people might not have the patience to persevere through this length of time!  

Word Study.  The word study is very much review for my boys.  So we breeze through these but if you have not covered this information, these are excellent!  Don’t skip them … we are breezing through them and treating them like review but they are robust enough that if we had not already covered them, we would be doing them!! In Part 1, we reviewed what an antonym is and quickly read through these, but did not complete the worksheet. Part 2, we reviewed odd past tense words.  In Part 3, we covered the “Who Am I”… these are always fun!  In Part 4 it is all about compound words.  If you are looking to beef up the word study lessons, there are so many wonderful sites for hands-on works!  Montessori For Everyone has free works, Beautiful Sun has a free set, and Free Montessori has some as well. I have an entire post on just free Montessori Materials I’ve found around the web. Be sure to check it out too!

Geography.  In Part 1, we studied a great deal about sailing ships.  Studying their sails and masts.  We talked about the fabric they are made of and the shape of the sails.  We studied vocabulary of ships.  In Part 2, we studied what Columbus thought the map looked like versus what it really looks like.  A great deal of part two is review also… discussing what a continent is and what land mass is which continent. But we did this for a good review (I love to circle back to information we have already covered and present it a different way, which is what POE is doing).  They had to research and find various island on the globe and mark in their notebook. Sandpaper Land and Water FormsGeography is not covered in Part 3.  Part 4 was fascinating!!  We discussed navigation and what dead reckoning is.  I had never heard of it but we all loved this study and found it fascinating! For enrichment for geography there is so much you could use for this section.  Be sure to study land and water forms if you haven’t already.  This is an especially fun study to do while it is still warm!  Deb over at Montessori has a fabulous round up of what you can do with Land and Water forms. Of course, I have a post about Sandpaper land and water forms too. I highly recommend you get some works that help the children actually study about the land and water forms… there are two very traditional works that are used in a Montessori classroom to each this concept.  One is Sandpaper forms (and the cards that match) and the other is trays. For younger students, a sandpaper land and water globe is common.  I found a great site that discussed the dead reckoning technique and asked some great questions for the boys to ponder!  

Art.  Part 1 art was drawing (or tracing) the sailing ship.  Labeling and adding as much detail as they could remember.  Since we did the nomenclature cards from Montessori Print Shop earlier in our study they remembered quite a bit of detail about what the names of the parts are.  No art was presented in part 2.  In part 3, the boys had to draw clouds and research the difference between wind, breeze and gale and discuss what a hurricane is. You know we spent a month at the beach during September in 2010 and we were run off twice due to hurricanes… we have absolutely studied them already … again review, but we are going track the storms through the hurricane season of 2013. That will be a great exercise and good review of latitude and longitude.  Here are some cards from Montessori for Everyone to help teach latitude and longitude.  Montessori Mom has a great activity using balloons to teach it as well as a coordinate game to download too!!  

Writing.  In Part 2, we had a fun project! The boys designed travel brochures to an island! They each took a different one and had to research it.  Poor Blake chose Cuba… not knowing about the political climate there! He learned all about it in his research though!  They researched the maps of their countries and drew them as well.  This could have been included in geography, because it is just taking the concept of what an island is and giving them some names to associate with the concept!  In Part 4, the writing assignment was studying a piece of art as a detective to learn about the time of day, the weather, how close they were to land, etc.  So they were honing their observation skills.  This was a fun exercise too!  

Science.  In Part 3, we studied more about wind, specifically about the Trade Winds. This was a pretty fascinating study too. I did not know why they were called the “trade” winds and how they encouraged trade. In researching this concept more, I found a NASA site that really explained it well!  But this site, Weather Wiz Kids, also has all the experiments to help the boys really grasp this concept!  LOVE this one… I’m bookmarking it!  

Independent Reading.  We are still focusing on our Columbus book library for their independent reading.

Finally, the Enrichment activities in Lesson 3, Part 5 were excellent!

We did not read Carry On, Mr. Bowditch because this is the middle school supplement we will complete after finishing this section of POE.  

Number 2 was cook a recipe from Jamaica from our Eat Your Way Around the World. Blake and I cooked JerkEat Your Way around the World Chicken and it was EXCELLENT! I highly recommend this book! We have only had one recipe thus far that we were not fond of! We have tried other jerk chicken recipes where the spice was just too hot!  This one the boys ate and loved! 

Number 3 is learning about Hurricanes and tracking them.  Here are charts for the Atlantic and Pacific to track them.   

That’s it for this Lesson!  We are really enjoying doing Paths of Exploration!   

POE Columbus Lesson 2 Our Sailboat Adventure


For Lesson 2 of the Columbus Unit of our Paths Of Exploration study, we are learning about explorers and their ships. Mom assigned me the project of writing about our sailboat adventure a couple of years ago. This is my report on our sailboat trip.  

Our NC Sailboat Adventure

In 2010, we were visiting our granddaddy in North Carolina and rented a beach house on the beach in Emerald Isle. Close to the end of our trip, we rented a sailboat called the Good Fortune for the day. It was docked in Beaufort NC. We left Emerald Isle and traveled to the dock. There we met Captain Ron and his dog Rudder. It was his boat we were going on. We talked a little and then he had to get the ship ready. While he was doing that we explored the waterfront. Once the boat was ready, we left the dock.  Good Fortune

On the way to Cape Lookout, we saw many sea creatures like jellyfish and dolphins and red algae. We tried to get pictures of the dolphin, but we never got a good one. Captain Ron told us that this dolphin was released from Disney World and was tagged. The ride was gentle and calming I actually fell fast asleep with his dog, Rudder. When i woke up it was only a few minutes till we got to the island.

Apologia Swimming Creatures and Rudder, the dogAs we were anchoring, we were surrounded by pelicans! Captain Ron said they were looking for an easy meal. We had to ride in a dinghy to get to the island, once there we saw tiny black ovals everywhere! When we got a closer look they were actually snails… TONS of them! Then we starting exploring the island and saw an under water lizard, some crabs and a conch shell with another mollusk. Mom even brought the Apologia Swimming Creatures book for us to look up creatures we found!  

We hiked to the other side of the island and found a huge tide pool. We investigated the tide pool and swam in it… and saw that there was a sand shark in it with us! Luckily sand sharks don’t bite people. Mom spent her time shell hunting up and down the beach. She found beautiful whole conchs and many unusual shells. Dad, my brothers and I investigated some large boulders along the shore. When Captain Ron told us it was time to leave, we all were sad. We were all having so much fun on this island. 

On the way back, I stayed awake the whole time and we got to see wild horses. We were going to go to the island where the wild horses were, but we stayed on the first island too long. Once we docked back at Beaufort, i was glad to be on land again.  

I found out I LOVED sailing and want to go back again!   

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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…


The Ship’s Journey, a poem

We are studying Paths of Exploration this summer.  We are in Columbus, Unit 1, Lesson 2.  As part of the enrichment study for this unit, my mom gave me the assignment of writing a poem about ships. So here is The Ship’s Journey, a poem I wrote for this assignment. I hope you like it! 

Cropped Sailing Ships (c.1886-1890) - Constantinos Volanakis

The Ship’s Journey By Gage Corlew


A ship at sea has a destiny,

whether It is to China or Italy.

A ship has no home,

it shall mostly roam.

From sea to sea they sail,

steering clear of strong gales.


A port sees many of these,

they sail in on the breeze.

Many travel to the Indies for trade,

of clothes from Persia, for emeralds or jade.

Many have dreamed of riches from the sea,

though very few find the mysterious key.


The ship’s sailors being so brave,

bob fearlessly on the waves.

And see so many beautiful views,

when out on a sunset cruise.

As the new day dawns,

They rise with stretches and yawns.


A boat at bay,

has a place to stay.

A ship at sea,

is almost completely free.

A ship at dock,

Will be still as a rock.


Many people who love the sea,

have a common silent plea…

of sailing away, 

for fun and adventures on the high sea!





POE Columbus Lesson 1 Parts 4 and 5

POE Columbus


DisclosureAs you know we started Paths of Exploration by Trail Guide to Learning for our summer all-inclusive curriculum experiment.  This post relates to POE Columbus Lesson 1 Parts 4 and 5.  If you missed the other posts, jump over to the search box and type in Paths of Exploration, there are many posts on this topic now.  So, I have been determined to stick to the curriculum as written (just augmenting by adding the hands-on aspects), but I have made some decisions.  So much of this curriculum (in my opinion) is lower elementary level and my boys are just not loving the level of review that it is requiring for us to do all facets of the curriculum.  We will be skipping the parts that are review and just focusing on the new aspects (all of the history and geography pieces).  And we will be adding in the Middle School Supplement.  So there will still be a ton to talk about, but we will not be doing the lower elementary aspects, except I will still add hands-on activities.  If you have questions or want an activity to augment a concept and I have not listed it, please leave a comment or email me, I will gladly help you identify one!  

Since we covered the last two parts of Lesson 1 today, I’ll discuss both in this post. This section will be about Part 4.   

Section A. Copywork/Dictation.  It is continuing the dictation of the original poem “A Journey of Adventure” written by the authors. We will not be doing this piece of the curriculum. I think it is a very valuable piece of the curriculum and if your children have not had experience here, it is something I would do. And, if we were not doing this as our summer / early fall curriculum, we would be doing this section.   

Section B: Reader. Focuses on  “Language Skills”.  Obviously, we are still doing the readers, but since we are planning to do a lesson a week, we’ll probably go ahead and read the entire scheduled reading for the entire lesson instead of three – six pages at a time. I have my boys take turns reading aloud from Meet Christopher Columbus and I read Christopher Columbus.  

Meet Christopher Columbus

Meet Christopher Columbus

Section C: Read-Aloud and Discussion. Focuses on “Language Skills”.  

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus

Section D: Word Study. Part 4 focuses on rereading the sections read in the read aloud and identifying syllables.  We will not be doing this section until it catches up with the boys’ skills.  

Section E:  Geography.  Focusing on “History and Thinking Skills”. In Part 4, this section seemed like we were repeating what we had already covered.  Maybe because I had added so much to the curriculum to augment it in earlier lessons of Part 1.  So we did not do this section since we already had covered this material.  

Goode map

We did a fabulous activity creating an orange globe.  We discussed the various projections of the globe, identified the equator and the Prime Meridian and reviewed longitude and latitude, plus much more.  I’ll post a link here once I finish the post.  I just haven’t had a chance to finish writing it.  

Section F:  Writing.  With a focus on Thinking Skills, Art, and Language Skills.  Again, this focused on mapping and writing about a trip…. which we just did in the previous part, so we did not do this section.  It really felt very much like review.  

Section G: Independent Reading.  As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we modified this reading section a bit so the boys will The World of Columbusfocus their reading on anything about Christopher Columbus for 30 minutes a day. I wrote a post to share what our library resources we have, you can find it here.  I have since added a fabulous book that has not been added to our library list yet.  The World of Columbus and Sons by Genevieve Foster.  This author has written many books (I purchased several used in a lot on ebay).  I stumbled upon these when reading somebody’s discussion of the Beautiful Feet History curriculum.  These readers are a core part of BF History.  We just love them.  The summary of the book from Amazon reads:

This is the story of a wonderful, changing, reawakening world the world of the Renaissance and Reformation. Measured by the lifetime of Columbus and his sons, this book spans the years from 1451-1539. With Columbus as the central figure of this narrative, readers will also learn the fascinating stories of Prince Henry the Navigator, Ivan III of Russia, Gutenberg, Queen Isabella, Leonardo da Vinci, Mohammed II, the African ruler Nomi Mansa, Martin Luther, Erasmus, Albrecht Dürer, Copernicus, Michaelangelo and many others. Told in Foster’s engaging and winsome style enhanced by her helpful chronologies and timelines, readers will learn of the religious, cultural and scientific changes that ushered in a new frontier of exploration and discovery.

I have started calling books like this Historiction.  Historical but within a fictional story.  Think about all the great Henty Books that are exactly this same formula.  My boys seem to love them so that is another book that is part of their 30 minute reading options.  

Part 5 was the catch-up section for Lesson 1.  We did pull out our globe and trace where Marco Polo had traveled.  We did not review the spelling words because we had already changed them 🙂  My boys LOVED doing the Word Search!  Here is an interactive one online (not the one from the curriculum)  We even did some of the artwork… although my boys took Art 1 this past year and they actually drew a still life of a fruit bowl!  So, drawing bugs and flowers with smiley faces was WAY below their capability too!  LOL!  But we did draw them and giggled our way through it.  These are not the drawings from the curriculum, but I love these.  I love teaching the boys how to draw an object, broken down in steps.  I think I love it so much because then I can draw too 🙂  

In Part 5 of Lesson 1 we find where the Enrichment Activities are located. NOW we are getting to some meat!  

IEW Review1.  Study the country of Spain. My two oldest sons decided to each write a five paragraph IEW essay on this subject. As a mom that loves to write, I LOVED hearing that!  We studied IEW this past year and I can not say enough good things about this curriculum! It is money well spent!! They have a 100% money back guarantee so if you don’t like it (even after teaching the entire course) return it for a full refund. You just can’t beat that guarantee. 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.  Learn about Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand.  My youngest son is writing a five paragraph IEW essay on this topic.  

3.  Eat Your Way Around the World is focusing on Spain! We will always be doing these!  WeEat Your Way around the World will blog about them as we cook them. 

4.  This was yet another “plan a trip” discussion. I can see doing these for a very visual person, creating a travel brochure or something like that might be a lot of fun. Although, none of my boys chose to do this activity.  

I hope I have not confused you too much! We will continue to augment the lessons and we are excited about moving at a faster pace! That is one of the many luxuries of homeschooling, we can adjust to fit the needs of our children!  

Until next time…


Sandpaper Land and Water Study

Sandpaper Land and Water Forms

As part of our Paths of Exploration Columbus Unit, we circled back around and reviewed our land and water lessons.  Educational research indicates that children tend to retain information better when it is presented different ways and using multiple senses.  This is an example of how a Montessori education does just that.  This is a traditional Montessori Activity Sandpaper Land and Water forms.  This sandpaper activity is considered a sensorial activity. explains sensorial works well and will be beneficial for the basis of our sandpaper land and water study:

The purpose and aim of Sensorial work is for the child to acquire clear, conscious, information and to be able to then make classifications in his environment. Montessori believed that sensorial experiences began at birth. Through his senses, the child studies his environment. Through this study, the child then begins to understand his environment. The child, to Montessori, is a “sensorial explorer”.

Through work with the sensorial materials, the child is given the keys to classifying the things around him, which leads to the child making his own experiences in his environment. Through the classification, the child is also offered the first steps in organizing his intelligence, which then leads to his adapting to his environment.

It is not very difficult to make your own sandpaper land and water forms using sandpaper you purchase from a hardware store and foam board from a craft store… I’m not so sure they would be less expensive, but I’m sure your children would have fun making them with you! 

Land and Water 3 Part Cards

These are three part cards that are an extension of the sanpaper land and water forms. I found these free downloads at The Helpful Garden Montessori and they are perfect for this work. I am always amazed and thankful when I realize how many of us are making these materials and willing to give them away!  What an absolute blessing!

Not only are there free 3 part cards online, there are also lessons on how to present the material.  I found the explanation below at Montessori Teachers Collective.

LAND AND WATER FORM CARDS (Lesson Presentation)

Material: One set of cards of ten major geographical land and water forms. Ten land and water models.

Presentation: Invite a small group of children to join you. Have one child layout a mat, then have the children bring over all the land and water forms. The teacher shows the children where the Land and Water Form cards are kept and then brings them to the mat. Review the names and give a brief definition of each model. The teacher holds the cards. Show the children one card and ask a child which form it matches. Child places the card beside the form. Repeat for the other forms. Ask the children to name all the geographical forms they remember by pointing to the cards. Give a three period lesson for all the cards they do not know. Present three at a time, isolated at the bottom of the mat. Continue according to the children’s interest. Replace materials when finished.

Exercise 1 As in presentation, continue until children know all the forms using the cards only. Review cards previously learned.

Exercise 2: Children can draw their own land and water forms. They may label their drawing if appropriate and/or include the flora and fauna.

Purpose: To associate the three dimensional form with the pure concept presented on the card.

Age: 4+ years

Land and Water Definition CardsAnother extension of this work is teaching your children not only the name of the land or water form, but also the proper definition of them.   Again, I found the cards free!  This time from Montessori Materials.  


Material: Outline maps large enough to show major land and water forms. Use one map for each set of forms. Two colored pencils brown or green for land, blue for water.

Presentation: Invite a child to join you. show the child where the outline maps are located. Start with the map of the world. Use one map for each land or water form. Decide which land or water form you are going to look for, i.e. island, and select the appropriate pencil crayon. Say that you are looking for all the major/large examples of islands. Child locates first example. Show how to color it in carefully. Child locates next example and colors it in. Have him point out the other examples which he will color in. Child proceeds for as long as he wishes. When finished, label the map according to its geographical form, i.e. Islands.

Exercise 1: As in presentation, repeat the process for all geographical forms.

Exercise 2: Child may use maps of continents or his own country, as long as he knows the appropriate language.

Purpose: Identifying major land and water forms world-wide.

Age: 4.5-5 years

DIY Land and Water TraysMany families make their own land and water form trays. These are usually plastic and some form of clay. Here is one set from Shannon’s Sharings and they are great!  These are  adding another dimension (water) to this already very tactile work. 

And, believe it or not, there are still more extensions to this one activity! One that I particularly love (and will be doing with the boys) is graham cracker land and water form snacks that Deb Chitwood presented on her website.  Just use food coloring with white icing to make the water and the brown of the graham crackers makes the land. So fun and yummy!  

Edible Land and Water Forms


Well, I hope have enjoyed seeing just one of the many reasons why we chose Montessori as the foundation  for our children’s education.  As they reach middle school and are abstract thinkers, their educational materials tend to be more traditional.  Although, as you see on my homeschool blog, we still lean heavily towards hands-on learning!  

Until next time… 


Paths of Exploration Columbus Lesson 1 Part 3

POE Columbus Lesson 1 Part 3



As you know we started Paths of Exploration by Trail Guide to Learning for our summer all-inclusive curriculum experiment.  This post relates to Paths of Exploration Columbus Lesson 1 Part 3.  If you missed lesson 1, part 1, you can find it here. and Lesson 1, Part 2 you can find here.  Lesson 3 focuses heavily on map and globe work.  We loved Part 3.  So, lets jump into the lesson.

Section A. Copywork/Dictation.  Focuses on “Language Skills.  As in Part 1 and 2, it is from the original poem, A Journey of Adventure, written by the late Debbie Strayer.  Today we had two areas the boys wanted to explore on the globe:  Cathay and Venice.  We never did find what Cathay, but they did find Venice!  Both words ended up on their spelling list.  

Section B: Reader. Focuses on  “Language Skills”.  There was more reading from our required books. Section B and Section C still seem very cumbersome and clumsy.  These sections seem redundant to me.  But, we will continue to do both through Columbus and re-evaluate before we hit Jamestown.  

Meet Christopher Columbus

Meet Christopher Columbus



Section C: Read-Aloud and Discussion. Focuses on “Language Skills”.  Today the boys discussed a section from our read aloud regarding what happened during a storm.  This

Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus

section asked for them to describe the storm.  Our Institute for Excellence in Writing really prepared them well for this section.  They are very familiar with “dressing up” a writing with descriptive adjectives. Again, There are two required reading books about Christopher Columbus. One is Meet Christopher Columbus and the other is Christopher Columbus.  

Section D: Word Study. Focuses on “Spelling, Phonics and Vocabulary”.  In this section, syllables were discussed.  They discussed some of the tried and true ways of identifying each syllable in a word, like clapping them out.  This is also how All About Spelling teaches syllable identification as well.  For those that love using hands-on learning to teach a concept, here are some free cards to print from Montessori For Learning to divide up words by their number of syllables. Have your students clap out the word.  I have to tell you, Paths of Exploration introduces a new way of teaching syllables to young students.  I haven’t seen it recommended by any other organization so I won’t share this technique in this post (you need to buy the curriculum because I would consider this proprietary information 🙂 ), but let me assure you it is really smart and so simple!

In this section the boys also reviewed what “re” means.  We discussed a section from our read aloud that used a “re” word and what the word meant.    

re equals again 

Section E:  Geography.  Focusing on “History and Thinking Skills”. Today we discussed Marco Polo and traced his land route to China.  We looked at the water routes to determine if the water routes were quicker or not to China.  This was a great way to help them actually use the globe to think.  We used it as an opportunity to discuss various ways of looking at routes and the various types of maps and globes.  We will be making a Goode’s Interrupted Projection Map using an orange next week.  Stayed tuned for that project, I will make a new post for it!  


Goode map


Section F:  Writing with a focus on “Language Skills and Writing”.  We discussed Journals and what journals are used for in relation to an explorer.  As part of their study, they had to write a journal entry for today.  I am actually thinking of adding this as a rest of the summer project.  They used to journal when they were little (I would write what they dictated to me about their day).  They still love going back and reading them.  I think I have talked myself into it!  

Section G: Independent Reading.  As we discussed in parts 1 and 2, we modified this a bit so the boys will focus their reading on anything about Christopher Columbus for 30 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays. I wrote a post to share what our library resources are, you can find it here. I am adding our favorite map and globe books below. These books will be a part of what they will read during their independent reading times.  

Maps and Mapping                      Maps and Mapmaking

Mapping skills           How to draw maps and charts

Map Keys Rookie Read about Geography          Types of Maps Rookie Read About Geography


Looking at Maps and Globes Rookie Read about Geography


In this particular lesson POE did NOT teach some points that would have been very beneficial and go right along with this study, especially for young students. I’m going to list some items below that would be great to go with Part 3 since it is so Geography oriented with a focus on land and water. Pick and choose the works that work best for you and your homeschool.  These are the activities that we added to Part three, although most of these are review.  I’ll be creating a new post to show you how we used some of these:  

I hope pulling these books and the hands-on lessons together for each part of the Paths of Exploration lessons are a blessing for you and your children! If so, please leave a comment of encouragement. Sometimes, us bloggers feel like we are writing and nobody is reading it! So, it is really so nice to get comments that let us know you are reading what we post. If you have other suggestions on activities that you are using for this lesson, please let me know that too!

Until next time…


Eat Your Way Around the World – Egypt

Gebna Makleyah, Biram Ruz, Shish Kebabs


This is such a fun way to study a culture … explore their traditional foods!   We are continuing with our Summer intensive studyat Your Way around the World of Paths of Exploration.  We are in the Columbus unit and just studied the various countries Columbus visited on the Mediterranean Sea and we are starting to study about his sailing experience outside the Med.  One of the required reading books that is part of the Paths of Exploration curriculum is Eat Your Way Around the World, by Jamie Aramini.  



Blake our "Precious" CookerThere are three Egyptian recipes in the cookbook.  Gebna Makleyah, Biram Ruz, and Shish Kebabs. We made all three recipes for our Egyptian Study meal.  Since Blake is the self-proclaimed, cooker, he was in the kitchen with me.  I call him my “precious cooker” (instead of pressure cooker)!  When he was little, I would ask him what he wanted to be when he grew up… he would always tell me “a cooker”!!  Needless to say, he gets as much experience in the kitchen as he wants! 

The Shish Kebabs were spicy!  We love cumin, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, onion, garlic, etc… and we eat these spices regularly!  But even for us, this was a bit of a stout flavor.  We will cook this recipe again, but we will absolutely tone it down!  It could have used more garlic and less cumin (in my opinion).  The flavor was great just too much of it.  Gage noticed how filling this meal was.  I wonder if the level of spiciness has any relationship at all to how quickly you feel full?  Something to explore!

Egyptian Shish Kebabs

We LOVED the Biram Ruz!  It is a long grain rice dish with whole milk and heavy cream… no wonder we like it, huh!?!  Seriously didn’t expect to like this one.  But we all loved it.  It was pretty bland considering the spiciness of the shish kebabs… maybe this is intentional to counter that extreme spiciness?  Either way, it was quite tasty!  

Finally, we made the Gebna Maleyah.  These surprised me.  Number one, they were surprisingly hard to make, and number two theyEgyptian Making Gebna Makleyah tasted great.  I’m not a huge Feta Cheese fan, but these may have changed my mind.  These were supposed to be cheese “balls”, as you see in the plate picture at the top of the article, they look more like pancakes.  The boys didn’t like this flavor at all (no surprise there)!  

So to wrap up our thoughts, the Egyptian meal was good, but not great.  We will try modified versions of these again… except maybe the Gebna Makleyah (the Feta Cheese dish).  They boys really did not like it, I guess that is a mature taste. Thinking about this stout flavored meal, I bet it would be FABULOUS with a nice Cabernet!  I’m pretty sure this will be a Shabbat meal soon! 

Until next time…



Hula Hoop Woven Rugs

Hula Hoop Woven Rug by Chase


As we discussed in our Paths of Exploration Columbus Unit Lesson 1, Part 2 post, we are discussing Bazaars and the items that you can find for sale in these open-air markets.  We have already mentioned spices being one of the items the explorers liked to bring back.  Another item the POE curriculum discusses is woven goods. They suggest the students design rugs on graph paper, which is fun and the boys are doing … but you know how we like to homeschool…. hands-on as much as possible! Therefore, we decided to create some of our own woven products!  For this project, we got our inspiration from Disney Family Fun, where they created Hula Hoop Woven Rugs.  

My boys have always enjoyed weaving and knitting (I guess from their Montessori school days), so we decided to try this one!   I hope you enjoy reading about our project, but I hope you try it too!  Put a link to your post in our comments if you do one!! I went back and looked at the Disney link after finishing our rugs. I just realized they only showed pictures of the rug being woven and before it was cut off the hula hoop.  None of the finished product?  I think I know why!  I’ll explain later.  

I guess it is a good thing that I had not gotten around to selling or donating the pile of old T-shirts and pajama tops, because that is exactly what we used to create these fabulous woven pieces of art!  We actually even had the hula hoops too, so this project didn’t cost much to do!

The oversized (hula hoop) looms and loops of T-shirt material make these rugs very easy to do for beginning weavers. It is a great way for them to learn the basic hoop weaving technique by creating a colorful rug to either hang or use as a rug. There are a few terms you need to know for this project: the warp is the material you string on the hula hoops, the weft is the material you weave.

The Materials List:  

  • Sharp Scissors
  • A Ruler
  • About a dozen colorful T-shirts (we used mens xl large for the warp material and old t-shirts the boys had outgrown for the weft material)
  • 30-inch hula hoop


The Directions:

Hula Hoop Rug cutting

1.  For the warp, cut 1-inch-wide loops from the bodies of several tees (we found a men’s xl worked best on our 30-inch hoop), we did not use the hem and stopped right under the arms.  You’ll need 11 loops per hula hoop rug.  For the weft, cut at least 50 loops from the remaining shirts (we used more on some rugs and less on others).  

2.  Stretch one warp loop over the hula hoop.  You don’t want it loose, nor do you want it tight.  It should fit snugly but not be too taunt.  

3.  Add a second loop, perpendicular to the first (Think of a + sign)

4.  Repeat, filling in the spaces in between, until all 11 loops are in place. (And if you are like me, you want to know if it needs to be 11, Yes it needs to be 11 loops, or another odd number)

5.  Push together two warp loops at the top of the hula hoop (just the two at one end, not both ends). This creates an odd number of warp spokes in your wheel, which allows the over/under pattern of the weft to alternate with each new row.  

6.  Secure the first weft loop to the center of one of the warp spokes (we used the doubled spoke from step 5) by wrapping it around the warp and then looping it back through itself.

How to Make a Hula Hoop Rug

7.  Begin weaving the weft over and under the warp spokes, forming a tight spiral. Not too tight though.You are treating both parts of each warp spoke as a single unit, weaving over or under the two together. As you work, push the weft material toward the center of the hoop and keep it just snug. If you pull the weft too tight, the rug will develop lumps or bends. When you reach the end of the piece of weft, add a new loop by threading it through the end of the first and back through itself.

8.  When your rug is about 8 inches across, begin treating each warp spoke as two individual strips instead of a single unit, weaving over or under each strand instead of going over or under the doubled spoke. This increases the number of warp spokes, improving the structure of the project. When you get to the two warp spokes that you pushed together at the top of the loom, separate them. Treat one of the spokes as two individual strips, but continue to treat the other as a single spoke. This maintains the odd number of warp spokes.  We did this step, but I think we will try another rug without this step and just see how it turns out.  

9.  When the rug is the size you want, but no closer than 5 inches from the edge of the hula hoop, snip open your weft loop.
Tie the ends around a warp spoke, and tuck the ends into the rug.    

10.  Cut the warp spokes off the hoop one at a time.  

11.  Tie the ends in pairs, then trim them to make a fringe or tuck them back into the rug.


Hula Hoop Rug Blake


Blake lost interest in making his rug about half-way through, so his rug is the smallest. But he did a great job and he enjoyed it! We had a smaller hula hoop that we should have used for him. Next time! He is hanging his on his wall.  


Hula Hoop Rug by Chase


Chase ended up with the biggest rug. He was the one that was sure the whole way through weaving that he was doing something (or everything) wrong. He loves his and his turned out just great! He wants to make another one now that we half-way know what we are doing! I agree!  


Hula Hoop Hat Gage

That’s my Gage. He can have a good time no matter what is happening around him. His rug was very tight in the center (maybe too tight), but once we started dividing the warps and weaving the two pieces individually, it seemed to change the way the rug would lay.  So, this is why we will skip step 8 next time to just see what happens. Gage is so creative, while weaving his, he would make the hula hoop go back and forth and said the rug was a speaker vibrating. He decided his was a better rag hat than a rug… But Gage loved his too, had a great time weaving and always has such a great attitude!  He wants to weave another one too!

Like I said earlier in the post, when I looked at all the other posts online where people were doing these rugs, I could not find one that showed the rug after it was cut off the hula hoop. I think that is ridiculous. Even if it didn’t turn out like you hoped, still show the end result! Why do so many people want us to believe their lives are perfect and everything they touch turns out exactly as planned? I think way too many people focus on perfection and completely miss the sheer enjoyment of the process and just doing it!  Mistakes are windows to discovery!  Journeys are where we find life!  When we leave for vacation, it starts when we leave our driveway, NOT when we arrive at the beach (or wherever we are going for vacation)…  We purposefully choose to live our lives enjoying the journey… and it is a choice!    

So there you have it!  We had fun and will make another rug soon (maybe even this weekend)!  If you make one, please share a link to your post in the comment section.  

This post is linked at Think Pink Sunday at Flamingo. 

Until next time…. 


Paths of Exploration Columbus Lesson 1 Part 2

Columbus Lesson 1 Part 2



As you know we started Paths of Exploration by Trail Guide to Learning for our summer all-inclusive curriculum experiment.  As we have discussed many times, we homeschool with a very hands-on (Montessori-ish) approach to education, so we are using lots of  supplemental resources to augment this course.  Our plan is to do the entire Paths of Exploration as an intensive study over the summer and early fall!  This post is about Paths of Exploration Columbus Lesson 1 Part 2.  If you missed lesson 1, part 1, you can find it here

Section A:  Copywork/Dictation.  Focuses on “Language Skills and Thinking Skills”.  As in the Lesson 1, it is from the original poem, A Journey of Adventure, written by the late Debbie Strayer.  We are enjoying this work and we are finding more vocabulary words to add to our list.  We work on these vocabulary words between classes.  

Section B: Reader. Focuses on  “Language Skills” skills.  More reading from our required books. 

Section C: Read-Aloud and Narration. Focuses on “Language Skills and Thinking Skills”.  Today the boys had to retell specific passages of portions I read in their own words.  Again, There are two required reading books about Christopher Columbus. One is Meet Christopher Columbus and the other is Christopher Columbus.  

Section D: Word Study. Focuses on “Spelling and Phonics”.  The words in Part 2 are the same vocabulary words in Part 1 and are too easy for even my nine year old. The boys “tested” (I asked them to spell each of these words individually and they all could) out of these and moved into more challenging words.  We did the new part of the section which provided the definition and you had to pick the word that best fit.  But, really it is still too easy.  Here are the words I added, if you would like to put some challenge in.  Unfortunately, they do not come from the reading… but we have used each of these words in our homeschool this past year.    

  1. frighten
  2. airtight
  3. birthright
  4. blight
  5. brighten
  6. delight
  7. enlighten
  8. insight
  9. knight
  10. nightfall
  11. plights
  12. weeknight

Another new part of Section D Word Study was to study the past tense of words. We were given words that we had to find the past tense from the read-aloud books from Section C.  This is still terribly basic, for middle schoolers especially.  Here is a hands-on work that could be used for a more advanced study of the tenses of verbs for the older students and a more well-rounded, hands-on lower elementary work can be found here.  We also did a study of the word “strange” and how it was used in the reading. The boys provided synonyms for the word according to how it was used in the different texts.  They all got it and used the word “strange” and its synonyms appropriately.  This section may end up being skipped altogether.  

Also in this section we discussed various cities and if they are situated on the Mediterranean Sea.  Again, I have no idea why this is in Section D when Section E is Geography.  But the boys absolutely love the geography aspect, so I’m not complaining!  

Section E:  Geography.  Focusing on “Thinking Skills”.  We studied what a bazaar is.  There are some discussion questions, but again, they are not terribly thought provoking.  We decided to take this section deeper.  We discussed what we might encounter at a middle eastern bazaar, the things you might see, hear, and smell.  We talked about the fact that they are usually open-air markets and what weather elements they might encounter and wondered aloud how they would protect the items they were selling… such as spices.  Speaking of spices, we wanted to experience what it might be like to walk into the spice tent at a bazaar.  Research shows the more senses you engage when learning new material, the more likely it will be remembered.  We made it a game, “Name that Spice Game“.  Be sure to check out that post.  It was fun (but there is a warning in that)!  

Native shop in a Calcutta Bazaar, 1867, William Simpson

Native shop in a Calcutta Bazaar, 1867, William Simpson

Section F:  Art. In this section we discussed how many of the items at a bazaar are handmade.  The text showed some rugs and discussed their patterns and where you might find them.  Then the boys were to draw their own.  This was fun.  We looked at many google images of African rugs!  They are so beautiful and vibrant!  



Hula Hoop Rug by ChaseBut, again, we like to take it deeper so we creating some of our woven products. We made a Hula Hoop Woven Rug!  You can find that post here.  We will be making an art hanging.  Be sure to check those posts out as well, I will come back and link them to this post as well.  

If you are looking for something a little less bulky, here is another weaving using a paper plate and yarn.  The blogger’s three year old daughter was able to do this one!  It is so precious!  






Eat Your Way around the WorldOne final piece of the Geography study that will always go over extremely well in my house is the cooking piece.  Remember Eat Your Way Around the World by Jamie Aramini is one of the required books.  We are to experiment with making dishes from Egypt and Morocco this week.  I will do another post or two about them!  

Section G:  Independent Reading.  As we discussed in Part 1, we modified this a bit so the boys will focus their reading on anything about Christopher Columbus for 30 minutes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays. I wrote a post to share what our library resources are, you can find it here.  

Thoughts thus far… there seems to be a lot of inconsistency.  I expected the sections to stay the same throughout the Unit… they don’t. I’m not sure this is a big deal, but it is not what I would have expected.  Also, I don’t understand why there is a section called geography, but some geography work is listed in other sections. Again, it just makes it inconsistent and a bit confusing… but NOTHING that you can’t work around or overcome. Thus far I can say I’m pleased with this product.  We will continue to augment the lessons with a more hands-on approach, but I am pleased and am really liking the idea of an all-inclusive curriculum.  I’ll give you more detailed feedback as we get further into the curriculum… but I’ll sum it with “so far, so good”.  

I hope the additional hands-on lessons are a blessing to you and your children!  Please leave me a comment and let me know what you are thinking of this series… and if you decide to purchase it and use it… let me know!  I’ll be creating a blog roll for all of us with posts about Paths of Exploration sometime this summer!  

Until next time…


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