Paths of Exploration

This semester we are embarking on volume two of the Trail Guide to Learning Series – Paths of Exploration.  Currently my older children are in 5th, 3rd and 2nd grades.  This is the first year in many years that we have used packaged curriculum, mostly because we have preferred a more relaxed approach to learning.  I didn’t want their younger years of learning bogged down by workbooks and busy work.  However, I was feeling the need to add more structure to our day and desiring the ease of a pick up and go curriculum.

Why We Love Paths of Exploration

In my opinion, Paths of Exploration combines all of the things I was looking for.  The ease of a pick up and go for a busy home, the joy of reading real books and the flexibility of adding plenty of hands on projects if we choose.  

So far we have covered Christopher Columbus, Jamestown, and the Pilgrims.  Upon returning to our lessons after the holidays we started with Daniel Boone, then follows Lewis & Clark, and Trails West.

{Here is an extensive list of Lewis & Clark resources}

When I was reading some reviews of the curriculum, discerning if this would work for our needs, a few people mentioned that the Language Arts portion wasn’t meaty enough.  I have not found this to be true.  We rather enjoy the more subtle approach to language arts through copy work.  In fact back in the day, most Catholic schools couldn’t afford for each student to have their own book, so students learned much from copying from great works of literature.

Copywork has been a rich way for the children to work on so many different aspects such as handwriting, punctuation, sentence structure, and spelling.  It has helped my reluctant reader improve his reading fluency and my reluctant writer is gently being encouraged to write.

I know the children are learning when they can relay information to their dad around the dinner table, or my son points out punctuation marks in the missal at Sunday mass.  “Mom, there’s a colon!, I just can’t stop finding colons!”

Organizing Paths of Exploration

I have found it very easy to organize our notebooking materials.  Each week I pull the week’s notebook pages out of their large binders and put them in a folder.  As they work through the week the completed pages can go into the right side of the folder.  Everything is kept together, fairly neat, until it’s transferred back into the large binder.
The curriculum covers history, science, and language arts in a relevant and engaging way.  We add in our own math program as well as religion, and we are having a great year.  

I’m linking up at a virtual curriculum fair today at Homeschool Heart & Mind
Please check out these other great blogs!
Science and Worldview by Beth @ Ozark Ramblings

Nature Study as Science by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic

Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 3- Social Studies and more Science by
Leah Courtney @ The Courtney Six Homeschool Family

Curriculum Fair–Exploring Our World by Angie @ Petra School

Learning Geography at Our House by Jessica @ Modest Mama

Mapping Out Our Social Studies by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

The Fascinating World Around Us by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family

More Heart of Dakota Praises by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun

Our History by Melissa @ Grace Christian Homeschool

Playful US Geography for First Grade by Pam @ Everyday Snapshots

Heart of Dakota-The Fine Details-Part 3 History by Lynn @ Ladybug

Exploring Our World Through History & Science by Brenda Emmett @
Garden of Learning

Two History Must-haves by Letha @ justpitchingmytent

Learning About The World Around Us by Laura O from AK

Social Studies and Science – What do we do? by Joelle @ Homechooling
for His Glory


  1. Mary says

    Jen this sounds like a great curriculum…one I am going to consider as I want more structure for my now fifth grader, too.

    Is this virtual curriculum fair coming from one specific blog, or are you just doing it on your own? I like the idea.

  2. Jen4Ever4Always says

    I will have a link to a bunch of other blogs sometime tomorrow. I’m participating with Homeschool Heart and Mind, her blog button is right under my GFC for more info! I really love this curriculum! Thanks for reading :)

  3. Laurie says

    This looks really interesting. The GTG I am using is from the same company (I believe). This looks more comprehensive and structured. I’ll have to take a look at it.

  4. Susan Anadale says

    Thank you for participating in the Virtual Curriculum Fair this week, Jen! Paths of Exploration is one of the curricula I was considering for my own kiddos, so it’s nice to get a closer look. Thanks a bunch! ;0)

  5. Raisinglittlerubies says

    That looks like such a fun, hands on, way of learning. Definitely checking into that further. Thanks for the post.

  6. Robin says

    That looks like such a fun, hands on, way of learning. Definitely checking into that further. Thanks for the post.

  7. Noreen says

    Hi Jen, you have so many great resources to inspire your children to want to learn! Hands on learning with lots of color is the best. Do your boys like the handwriting part of the lessons? My son HATED it probably because he received OT services to help him with his pencil grip. Still holds it in his own unique way but it is legible enough for his teachers.

  8. Dani says

    I’ve been looking at POE for next year for my oldest son, who will be 3rd grade. It’s so hard to tell without having the resources right in front of me whether or not it will work for us. I am encouraged by what you’ve shared here. How flexible is it with the “extra” work? Do you ever feel like there’s too much busy work? Is there enough variety or are a lot of the same types of activities repeated? Did you buy the whole package, or are you using the library a lot? I’ve read a lot of reviews, but I would love to hear more from somebody who is actually implementing it in their own home!

  9. Jen4Ever4Always says

    I ended up ordering the whole program, including the notebooking pages. I don’t have a lot of time to spend at the library looking for books when we need them, so that is just what I chose to do to make life a bit easier. The extra work is very flexible. My third grader doesn’t do a whole lot of writing, so we do some of the work orally, or we skip it altogether. Today we did a bunch of map work, labeling the routes and cities that Daniel Boone used. The kids really enjoyed it. My 5th grader did his all on his own, but I helped my 2nd and 3rd grader. Whatever I feel is busy work (usually not much) I just don’t have them do. I’m not big on busy work, but they do like doing the word searches and crossword puzzles. Sometimes I make them optional, sometimes it’s work that needs to be done. Everyday that copywork is assigned (4 out of 5 days) that is mandatory. It’s been very helpful for all of them. As for variety, last week we talked a great deal about bees this week we have been doing map work and talking about the Morse Code. My kids stay very interested in what we are doing. If you have any more questions please feel free to ask!

  10. Dani says

    Jen, thanks for the reply! I spent some more time looking closely at the sample available online and I really like what I am seeing. It seems like the kind of thing I’ve been putting together, except more, well, put together :) I love that they use The Handbook of Nature Study and integrate science topics and art so seamlessly with the overall topic. We’ve been doing copywork and reading living books, so I think it will be a good transition to more structured work next year. Also, I took a look at Paths of Settlement, and it does seem to ramp things up a bit from POE, so I’m glad to see that it really does progress in that way. I think I’m fairly sold on it for next year. With a 1, 3, and 5 yr old, I’m finding I need someone else to do some of the structuring of school for my 8 yr old! I’m new to your blog, but I’ve enjoyed spending time reading it the past few days! Thanks,

  11. Sam says

    I am looking at POE… We are Catholic and it appears many of the books are exceedingly Protestant. Did you have any issues with anti-Catholic stuff… Often it will say papists… TOG has none of that, but it is literally too much for my mind to wrap around. The planner loses me. We used Sonlight this year and took out what we didn’t agree with. The calendar was lovely for each kiddo each day. POE is 2/3 of the cost, and with huge $ issues looming we may have to make the switch. Thine will be done…

    Thanks for any insight.

    Pax Christi,
    Samantha Lehmann

  12. Jen4Ever4Always says

    I really didn’t notice anything that was anti-Catholic. Even the book about Christopher Columbus was neutral, now it was not written by a Catholic author but I didn’t pick up on anything anti-Catholic. Because of the nature of the program, there was ample time to discuss anything that I wanted to clarify. We talked Columbus being a Catholic, the Knights of Columbus etc. Unless I’m completely oblivious, I didn’t have any concerns. We were very happy with the program and my kids still talk about the things that we learned! Feel free to get in touch if you have further questions.

  13. Brenda says

    Hi. I’m considering this curriculum. Did you end up using the 2nd level? 3rd level? Why or why not? I would love to hear your pros and cons. Thanks!!

    • says

      Hi Brenda!

      Thanks for your comment. I LOVED this program. LOVED it! It really was one of our best school years. However, I did not use the next level. At the time and the ages of my children, the next level would have been too much of a jump for a couple of my kids and I felt like I would have had to do too much modifying. I wish it would have been a good fit for us to continue, it’s a great program. Now I know that some families take two years to go through one cycle. If I would have thought about it I would have done it that way and then we would have been able to go into the next level. Now we are using Tapestry of Grace.

      • Leslie says

        This is the first time I have heard someone say they take two years to go through one level. Is it that much work? Considering this for next year

        • says

          It really it depends. If you like to stop and delve into topics further then of course that adds time. If you don’t it can easily be done in one year.

  14. Colleen Woodcock says

    HI, I was wondering if you could help me I am trying to find a comprehensive list of the books I would need if i just bought volumes one and two, there is now where on-line where I can find this information. I don’t want to buy it if the books needed are extensive and I can’t get many at the library here! I’d love to research on how many i can find at my library before I buy this to see if I can afford it. If I buy it and can’t afford the books my husband will loose it lol!!!

    • says

      I no longer have all of my books, I passed several along to other homeschooling moms when we finished up. Sorry! There is a POE group on FB and I would ask the question there. :)

Leave a Reply to Dani Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge