Paths of Exploration – my review

Many of you know that after two years of public school, we finally made the decision to homeschool.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but one we knew was right from the the day I found out I was pregnant.

There were many factors that kept us from homeschooling from the beginning but I believe everything has worked out in our favor.

I met a homeschooling mom, Sam, back in the Summer of 2011 and I’ve continued to follow her journey.

I turned to her again last spring , when we knew we were NOT going back to public school.

She had discovered the Trail Guide to Learning series and couldn’t say enough good things about it.

I downloaded the sample lesson of the first set in the series, Paths of Exploration, and was knew immediately that it was what I had been searching for.


I love the concept of “unit studies” but feared not covering enough and I loathed the thought of subject after subject, day after day.

It was perfect.

If you are curious about the great minds behind this, he curriculum is written by Debbie Strayer and Linda Fowler; it follows the gentle teaching techniques of Ruth Beechick. Please feel free to do your own search on these women, I’m still learning about them.

The curriculum covers everything except math, so we had to pick a curriculum for that separately. We chose Saxon. I felt it was a safe choice. I like it but I’m not sure if we will keep with it forever; more on that another day.

I was excited to get started and was beyond thrilled when I discovered that the series was available digitally. YAY. I was able to download it right away and start printing workbook pages.


I did have to order all the reader books, and against my better judgement and SAm’s advice ordered them all bit by bit. It took several hours of comparing and bidding and it was overall a huge nightmare.

I will NOT do that again, next year I will just order directly from GeoMatter, the site that handles the orders for TGTL.

I think I saved around $20, but it wasn’t worth the headache.


Geomatters did offer a couple of the readers digitally but not all of them.

My only complaint is the pages in the digital reader seemed to be “off” from the assignments but exact pages aren’t really that important.

POE is intended for 3,4, & 5 grade. Will would have been in 2nd if he had stayed in public school.

We’ve had zero issues with the work load, in fact he occasionally does the 4th grade work because we feel the 3rd is too easy.

They also offer a lapbook download, at an extra cost. It’s fun but involves more cutting and pasting and Will has requested that we NOT do it again next year. He’s enjoyed it but he’d rather find a different way to review.


I truly love how the lessons incorporate ALL aspects of our day and some days you don’t even notice moving from one subject to the next, it all flows seamlessly.

We are about to reach the halfway mark in our year, and I couldn’t be happier with our curriculum choice.

Will has learned to write a letter, and address an envelope and his spelling words are far from traditional. A few recent words include Gideon, Samoset and Massasoit – names of people and things he’s currently reading about.

He’s also learned about changing y to i and adding es, so they are slowly and gently working in grammar. I’m planning to add a little to this but only by because he keeps confusing nouns, pronouns, verbs and adjectives. I suppose he’s doesn’t really need to remember these just yet but we have the time in our day so why not!?

Will’s only complaint is the the art. He really shuts down when science and art blend and he is asked to draw an animal or to pick something out of a poem and illustrate it.

I’m already looking forward to next year and starting on Paths of Settlement. It will be interesting to see how we are able to adapt this to Kinder for Lucas.

I can’t believe the number of things I’ve personally learned this year that I either didn’t learn in school or just never picked up.

The details of our Country’s history are amazing.

I received NO compensation for this review and I paid for all materials – this is just a courtesy review, so everyone can see what we are doing. 


  1. Marylou Canipe says:

    Great review ! I would love to read more about your thoughts and plans on your homeschooling adventure. I have been homeschooling for 6 years now!

  2. Star Traci
    Twitter: TracisStar

    That’s cool. I like the flexibility of the grade level. The y- ies is right on third grade level as I is learning that right now. If I ever get my RV, I’ll be trying this out.

    Star Traci´s last blog post ..Sundays in My City #50 — A Different Look

  3. thank you so much for this! we have yet to find a curriculum we love, and i plan on ordering this for next year! appreciate the review!

  4. dThat sounds pretty cool, I haven’t heard about lessons like this before. It’s really cool that it’s available for my Kindle as well, I wish I could have some extra time for that. How do you manage homeschooling with working from home? Sometimes I really got weird when I had to focus on many things at the same time…
    Katrin´s last blog post ..Der Winter könnte schon wirklich weg…

  5. Thanks for this review!! I am very interested in this curriculum for my 3rd grader, but I have one concerrn….Does it offer enough writing?

    I realize it’s a gentle approach, and that I love, but I want my son to be on target when it comes to writing…What are your thoughts?

  6. Thanks for the review! I will be homeschooling my three kids next year (will be one 3rd, and two 1st graders). My boys (the first-graders) love geography, so I thought this looked like a good fit for them.

  7. Thank you for this review! I will have an upcoming 2nd and 4th grader, and Paths of Exploration looks great. I have been hesitant because I wasn’t sure if it would be too much for my 2nd grader and I don’t want to leave her out. I saw that they have lapbook extensions for 2nd graders, but I’m not sure if that’s just going to be extra work (aka – will we REALLY do it?) Still thinking things through. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts!

    • Priscilla says:

      My kiddo thought the lapbook was just busy work and he really didn’t care for the extra review, nor did he need it but It would be good if you just need a little smething extra.

  8. Thanks so much for your review. My Lucas will be in 2nd grade next year and I have my eye on POE. :) Just curious, do you feel that the spelling instruction enough? I was planning to order All About Spelling 1 next year, but now I’m wondering if it’s necessary.

    • Priscilla says:

      I think all about spelling would be far better. It teaches the rules in an easier to undertand manner (so I’ve heard!). Good luck!

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