Review by Bridgette Taylor
The “Trail Guide” geography series by Cindy Wiggers is a fantastic curriculum for the homeschooler. The program is designed for early elementary through high school. There are three books in the series entitled “Trail Guide to U.S. Geography,” “Trail Guide to World Geography,” and “Trail Guide to Bible Geography” respectively. The books can be used as your complete geography curriculum, however, they are also a great resource to round out your history and language lessons. You will need to purchase an atlas, an almanac, and outline maps are also necessary. I recommend “Uncle Josh’s Outline Map Book” which, like “Trail Guides,” is put out by Geography Matters. The variety of scheduling options given in this curriculum make it easy to infuse into your daily routine. You can choose to spend as much as an hour on a project or as few as 5 minutes with review drills.
Each manual consists of three parts, “Geography Trails,” “Points of Interest,” and “Geography Through Literature.” By following the trails in the book and stepping off the trails for projects and activities, this curriculum quickly turns into an exciting choose-your-own-adventure book. Your student can choose to research, map, and create projects based upon what interests them. Throughout the year your students will also compile notebooks. The “Points of Interest” and “Trail Blazing” sections provide an ample supply of notebooking and project ideas such as making 3D maps, making models, crossword puzzles, timelines, drawings, reports, and many other activities. There is more than enough here to keep any age group plenty busy. Each volume is completed with a project that will incorporate literature. This will include mapping and vocabulary as well as reading a literary work. The books used in the “Geography Through Literature” section can be found at your local library.
Another thing that is special about “Trail Guides” is that each volume is set up to teach beginner, intermediate, and advanced students simultaneously. You can teach the same lesson to many age groups, each at their appropriate level, all at once. You can also use the same book more than once for the same student just by following the path for the next highest level. This is perfect for home schooling families with a large age range. The enormous amount of geographical information, fun facts, exciting activities, and hands-on projects make this curriculum a winner. In my opinion, with just a little tweaking here and there, “Trail Guides” will likely be the only geography curriculum you ever have to buy.