The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

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Pacific Edge Publishing Review by The Old Schoolhouse

Pacific Edge Publishing focuses on providing K-12 educators, teachers, and homeschoolers in Canada, the US, and around the world with exceptional curriculum materials and learning resources that have been specially developed for use in any classroom or homeschooling educational setting. This is a great little company from a tiny island in British Columbia Canada. They produce excellent resources that cover the curriculum spectrum. Most resources are written to classroom teachers, but are exceptionally easy to use in the homeschool as well. You will have to check out their website for a listing of all that is available, as well as a downloadable catalog. Meanwhile, I will attempt to describe a cross section of what they have to offer.

Cariboo Runaway and teacher's guide
By Sandy Frances Duncan

This is a novel and novel study guide that is set in British Columbia during the Gold Rush in 1864. The novel is written by Sandy Frances Duncan, a Canadian author, and is geared for approximately 10-13 year olds. The novel is exciting and full of adventure, it tells the story of 13-year-old Elva who disguises herself as a boy in order to go and search for her father in the gold fields. Her little brother, Tim, follows her, and the story recounts their adventures as they look for their father. It is a great introduction to life in the 1800s and is easily used as a springboard to learn more about the gold rush and life as a pioneer. While written in and about British Columbia, this novel is equally attractive to anyone, Canadian or American, who desires to learn more about this time period. The novel study guide that is available for purchase separately goes through each chapter and has an overview of the chapter, vocabulary, discussion questions, activities to extend the learning, and links to other subjects to extend learning across the curriculum. The study guide pages are reproducible for class or home use, so you don't have to worry about buying more than one; and being Canadian, it is an exceptionally good value for those of you studying this era in the United States! The novel is exciting, and even my reluctant reader enjoyed it. We will use it again when my little ones are older and studying the same period.

Lambs of Hell's Gate
By Mary Liz Bright
Study Guide to Lambs of Hell's Gate
Edited by Diana Mumford

This is another historical novel, based on actual historic events and written during the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway. It tells the story of two Chinese young people who came to Canada to find a future, and instead found hardship and racial cruelty. This is a very exciting novel, written for 10-15 year olds, but please note that the content is historically accurate, and while horrible to think about, such things really did happen to the Chinese who were hired to help build the CPR through British Columbia. There is nothing extremely graphic, but you may want to pre-read it first, just to know what is coming when your child asks questions. The Study guide is based on the book, and goes chapter by chapter through the book and gives you vocabulary, questions, and map work. There are topics discussed such as racism, and while not written from a Christian viewpoint, it does allow room to talk about forgiveness and acceptance. These are both great novels, and portray an important part of history.

From Time Immemorial: The First People of the Pacific Northwest Coast
By Diane Silvey
Teacher's Guide for From Time Immemorial
By Diane Silvey and Diana Mumford

From Time Immemorial is an excellent introduction to the First People of the Pacific Northwest Coast. My fourth grader and I used this book as the main social studies book for our last year of school. It was his most favorite time of school, and he begged to read it with me! The book talks about the different aspects of First Nations life, such as living together, fishing, hunting and gathering, shelter and clothing, and many more areas. It is historically accurate, with many real pictures of life as lived by the First People's of the coast. There are also native stories and fables included in the book. We read them as one person's opinion on how things happened, which led to a springboard about beliefs of different peoples, and was all done in a relaxed manner as we read through the book.

On the first page of each chapter, there is a Looking Ahead section, and a Before You Read portion. These include questions to ask so that you are thinking about them as you read through the chapter. At the end of each chapter, there is a Looking Back section, with some After You Read activities pertaining to what you just read. My son drew the life cycle of the salmon after reading about how important salmon was to the First people here. While most of the stories and activities deal with the First Peoples from British Columbia, it also talks about the whole of the Pacific Northwest coast from the Eyak in Alaska to the Yurok, Hupa, and Karok in California. The overall culture of these people was similar, but customs, languages, and beliefs differed not only from group to group, but also even from village to village. This book is an excellent, non-threatening way to introduce your child to these people and their culture. The teacher's guide goes chapter by chapter through the book, adding extra questions and extension activities throughout There are art activities and craft activities presented throughout. While not absolutely essential, the teacher's guide is a nice addition to the book, and is also black line reproducible, which means you can use it for your whole family, and reproduce the worksheets when they are needed. The teacher's guide also contains an expanded unit on treaty making and self-government that is not included in the original book. This teacher's guide and book also cover 100 percent of the grade four learning outcomes for British Columbia, so those of you registered with a public school can use these books knowing that you are covering what is necessary.

Legends from the Chemainus Tribe: Stories and Teachings from the Oral Tradition of their Elders
Prepared by Donna Klockars and Brenda Boreham

This kit is comprised of two picture books and a teacher's guide. The stories were told to Donna and Brenda (both classroom teachers) by elders of the Chemainus people. They were written to retain the style of the telling and then read back to the elders for approval. The two teachers worked together to develop a set of activities that would facilitate integration of themes throughout the curriculum. Saved by the Orca is based on a true story of two brothers who traveled by canoe from Vancouver to Valdez Island. A sudden storm took them by surprise. The canoe tipped and the men were forced to spend the night in the cold water of Georgia Strait. The Wolf Family is a traditional Coast Salish legend about a creature that can be both human and wolf. The Wolf-Man is lonely and wants to have friends, but he thinks the village people will not accept him as he is. Transforming to his human form, he joins the young people of the village and falls in love with X'pey, a young native woman. These stories are historically accurate and reflect the thinking and culture of the native peoples. The teacher's guide is an excellent companion to the booklets, and is full of activities and questions to extend the learning. There are cross-curricular activities, such as cooking and arts and crafts, as well as research reporting. The stories and activities are written for fourth to sixth grade classrooms, but can be adapted to home schooling and the worksheets in the teacher's guide are reproducible for home or classroom use. The two booklets and the teacher's guide are purchased together in a package, and additional copies of the booklets are also available.

Junior Atlas of Canada and the World
Map Skills Workbook for Junior Atlas

This atlas is an awesome find! I had been searching for an atlas to introduce my kids to map work, but I didn't want something that would be overwhelming. I wanted a book that would have nice clear maps and could be understood by even a second grader. I found that atlas right here! Designed for kids aged eight to 10, This colorful atlas provides primary children with simplified political and physical maps of the world, the continents, Canada, and the provinces. Unlike most school atlases, the clutter has been kept to a minimum - only the most basic of facts and visual information is given so as not to distract young eyes and minds. The accompanying workbook is written for second to fourth graders, and has excellent activities and map reading projects in it. It is simple to use, and reproducible. While written to meet the British Columbia provincial learning outcomes, this set would be a welcome addition to any family wanting to learn a little bit about Canada's geography without going into it in-depth. It would be wonderful for our friends in the United States to introduce their children to the geography of Canada without having to spend a lot of time on it. The activities in the workbook are enjoyable, and my kids beg me to let them work on their map book! This book is definitely a keeper, and an excellent introduction to future atlases as well. Larger atlases won't be so overwhelming or confusing when you have already introduced your students to this atlas! I highly recommend this resource!

British Columbia Land and People
By Bill MacDonald

In this series of books, there is one book written for each Canadian province. As part of a series on exploring Canada, this activity book is about Canada's Pacific province. Its reproducible activities are designed for grades four to six readers. Topics include a cross-section of British Columbia, the Cordillera, climate, the Fraser River system, preserving a temperate rainforest, and natural resources. Other topic include Aboriginal place-names, a traditional winter lodge, the Cariboo gold rush, fruit growing, copper mining, Pacific Rim National Park, the capital, Victoria and emblems of British Columbia. There are maps, charts, and quizzes to help the intermediate student become acquainted with British Columbia. These books would be great to complement any geography program you are using, or when you want to jump in just a little bit more on any one province.

Canada Map Book 1

Put out by Apple Press, and distributed by Pacific Edge Publishing, this is a map book for grades two through three and includes a large 17" x 22" color map of Canada. It was written to help primary students develop basic map skills, and is 40 pages long. It can be worked through together very easily, and is quite enjoyed by the kids with whom I've used it. There are different levels for older grades (book two, book three). The book briefly goes through each of the provinces and the territories. It would be an excellent addition to any geography program, or just something for enrichment for those kids we all have who just love workbooks!