Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Appalachian Trail Unit Study Review

Recently, we were given the opportunity to review the Appalachian Trail Unit Study from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine for The Schoolhouse Review Crew.

Have you ever wanted to learn more about the Appalachian Trail? We have and we live in the Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail is a 2160 mile footpath that goes from Maine to Georgia. We have been along the trail in Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  Exploring and learning about nature is a wonderful way for kids to learn about the world around them and to appreciate the beautiful world God has given them. We love exploring the woods in our area, hiking various trails, and splashing in local rivers.
The unit study was great for learning about other areas and start planning for future vacations. America is amazing and the Appalachian Trail is just one of the beautiful places to visit.

So let's begin our adventure of the Appalachian Trail!

In this unit study, kids will learn about the Appalachian Trail. They will get to explore the various geographical locations, study the various plants and animals found along the trail, learn the history of the trail, see what is involved when you go camping, and learn about what you need when you head out into the wilderness.
Did you know that Benton MacKaye proposed the notion of the Appalachian Trail in 1921? We didn't. The trail wasn't completed until August of 1937!
I'll be honest our knowledge of the trail was very limited. I wasn't even sure where the trail started. I just knew we lived somewhere in the middle of the trail.
You can find out more about the trail at the Appalachian Trail website.

I love doing unit studies with my kids. It allows us to dig deep into a topic, while we add the "regular" subjects in. It's a great way to break up the "boring" school day. Lego Man loves doing unit studies. He enjoys learning all about a topic and soaking up all that information he can get. I love how spelling, writing, history, math, science, and geography can all be added into the study. It makes learning fun. Sometimes, the kids don't even realize that they are learning the basics. It's a lot more fun to do hands-on learning than plain, old boring workbooks (at least my kids think so).

To go along with our unit study, we checked out a few books from our local library. We read a few non-fiction books. Our library had a limited selection but a variety of books are suggested in the unit study giving you plenty to choose from. We also read a few fiction books. I love adding literature to our studies. Some of our favorite fiction books about the Appalachian Mountains are The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills, My Great-Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston (Princess P loved this book when she was 5), and When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant, Since we are in the Advent season, we picked up The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree by Gloria Houston to read too.

After reading through a few books and searching through various websites, we did some of the lesson ideas recommended in the unit study. I love the variety of ideas suggested. One day, we were counting squirrels or downy woodpeckers. I was able to give the kids math problems involving their numbers. Both kids got a chance to graph their findings. The next day, we were working on our nature sketch book. Trying to draw animals accurately can be down right tricky at times.
I planned a fun writing exercise where the kids got to write a story about an animal that could be found along the Appalachian trail. Lego Man picked a black bear (of course) and Princess P picked the blue swallowtail butterfly. She loves to see them when we visit Tennessee.

Instead of the normal report about an topic, I had them create their own funny story. They loved it!

Of course, we can't forget physical education. What better way for kids to get exercise than to go out hiking through the woods, walking up a mountain, or playing in a creek. The hike to Clingmans Dome is not an easy one, especially for little ones.

Source~ Wikipedia Commons

When we visited Clingmans Dome a few years ago, the kids were 3 and 4,  they rested at every bench they came across. It was well worth the hike...the view from the top was breath taking. Just make sure you take a sweater. It's a little chilly at the top!

The suggestions in the unit study are wonderful. They offer every family a variety of activities that can be done in all areas of the world and be done by a variety of ages. You can study the geography, history, science, and art of the Appalachian Trail. You can add in physical education, home economics, math, English, writing, spelling, vocabulary, etc. The possibilities are endless. You can spend a few weeks on the unit study or you can really dig deep and spend an entire year on the topic. We enjoyed our short study of the Appalachian so much that I am thinking of spending more time on it. It would be a fantastic way to learn about how the seasons affect the trail..... what happens to the plants and animals, what do you need to do differently when you go hiking, etc.

For me, the only drawback of this unit study was it being winter. I much prefer to head outdoors when it's warm, but that's just me. The kids didn't mind the cold weather at all.

The Appalachian Trail Unit Study from The Old School House is a fantastic unit study! It's fun and educational for both kids and parents. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to learn about our wonderful country.
~Till Next Time,

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  1. Wow - can't wait til my homeschoolers are a little bit older. What a great looking unit study. My husband loves being in the outdoors and wilderness survival, so this could be perfect for our family. Thanks for sharing!

    1. It was a lot of fun! I can't wait to do more of it in the spring.


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