The Great Canadian Adventure Review (using it homeschooling and camping)

Roadschooler, worldschooler, homeschooler, parent, traveller, learner… do any of these titles describe you?

There are so many ways to educate our children these days and so many different tools, philosophies, ideals, and systems to lean to in order to push our children into the learning we feel they should have.

We’re one such family that believes strongly in the power of travel as an education tool. And, I’m also a parent that is easily wooed by the unique and fun homeschooling curriculums available these days.

So, being Canadian, when I stumbled across the Great Canadian Adventure I was quite excited! My plan was to try to combine both travel and this program together for one great month of Canadian adventure learning!

A booklet from the Great Canadian Adventure Subscription being used by a family eating dinner at a picnic table

What is the Great Canadian Adventure?

Basically, the Great Canadian Adventure is a curriculum broken down by Canadian province or territory. You can use it as a stand-alone study for one geographical area or you can go through them all for a complete Canadian curriculum.

This program contains history, geography, experiential learning, science, cooking, crafting, games, and more… all focused around themes both directly and loosely related to that unit’s province or territory.

The creators of this program describe it as this:

The Great Canadian Adventure is a unique curriculum that applies the essential elements for geographic literacy and historical thinking to Canada.

High context learning employs a variety of techniques including map work, science experiments, research assignment and discussions to promote active engagement for learning. Each topic covered acts as a springboard for deeper discussion while maintaining the framework that allows learners to see the interconnectedness of the systems at work in a country like Canada.

The Great Canadian Adventure Website

How does the Great Canadian Adventure Work?

Last time I checked, you have a few options for purchasing these programs. You can purchase either a subscription which is mailed out on a monthly basis (a different province / territory per month). Or, you can make a one-time purchase of one province’s program or the entire set.

The whole curriculum is then broken down into different categories and age recommendations:

  • Tiny Travelers: ages 5-7
  • Canadian Geography: ages 7-12
  • Canadian History: ages 10+
Inside the Great Canadian Adventure Package we received the Explore Saskatchewan booklet, a clouds activity craft, and more

Taking the Great Canadian Adventure on the road:

I’ll admit that when I opened ours we were all very impressed by the level of quality and substance included in these packages! The pages were thick, the images bright and colorful. The entire program was way more professional and polished than I was expecting.

We tried all three of the Saskatchewan sets back in June of 2019: the geography kit, the history book, and the little traveler one. And, we received them just before setting out on our month long road trip through Saskatchewan. Perfect!

We brought all three sets along with us so we could directly connect the learnings in the programs / books to what we were seeing and experiencing as we toured the province.

This was our version of roadschooling and it worked amazingly!

What did the kids like about it?

At the time of this particular trip (when we tried out these books), the kids were 10, 7, and 4.

All the kids loved the pictures. The history book has characters that run through the story and all the images are themed and similar. They loved that they could cut these images out and add them to their own journals of the trip to incorporate the learning from the road and day’s adventures to what we were reading about through the history and geography books.

In the geography set my 7 year old really loved the birding journal. We found that while the book did contain many of the common birds, she used it in combination with her well-loved Kaufman bird guide. After spotting a new and unique bird, she was very eager to get into the tent at night and fill out the birding journal with that day’s sightings. She’s also continued to use this bird journal well after our trip has ended.

Using the great Canadian Adventure Bird Journal in the tent at the end of the day
My daughter recording her bird sightings in the Great Canadian Adventure birding journal

My 4 year old really enjoyed cutting out the figures, coloring them in, and playing with the animals that we were actually seeing as we traveled the province. She also enjoyed cutting out images to add to her own travel journal.

My 10 year old enjoyed reading to us from the history book while we were driving.

And I loved how detailed the history story was. It was perfect for our little adventuring group. It kept the attention of all kids, gave us much to talk about, and I appreciated that the story wasn’t simply a Eurocentric retelling of history, but that it did touch on the sensitive and turbulent events that happened in Western Canada’s colonization.

A parent’s review:

I’ll preface with saying we only reviewed the Saskatchewan program and over all, I was very impressed. I was blown away by the product’s quality as well as the content. I did not expect it to be so comprehensive and printed in such high quality paper and inks.

The Backyard Bird poster and bird journal from the Great Canadian Adventure Subscription

Plus, it was the perfect accompaniment to our travels. For example, as we drove through Saskatchewan the kids noticed the grid-like road system… which lead us to reading in the ‘Explore Saskatchewan’ book about latitudes and longitudes and how the province is surveyed and divided…

Then, we’d read in the Saskatchewan History booklet about the historical happenings and political ramifications of the land division systems and that history reading fit perfectly into our visits of the museums and historical sites that we’d stop to explore.

Or, there was the time we were driving and the kids started talking about the clouds and the sky. So, that night at the picnic table we opened up the book to the pages on clouds, did some reading, the suggested activity and crafts associated with the cloud learning in the booklet.

Then there was the day that my son noted the varying geography as we traveled north to south through the province and how the vegetation and landscape kept changing along certain lines on the map. The next day as we were looking at the Saskatchewan book we found the pages on exactly that! … which lead to more learning and deeper discussion than if they had just read about the geography before actually experiencing it themselves.

Which, I think, is the true beauty of worldschooling…. getting to experience the world and incorporating those experiences into the deeper learning, in whichever form that deeper learning happens.

That’s not a formal definition of worldschooling, just how I think about it for my family. And, the Great Canadian Adventure definitely helped in bringing a lot of our experiences from our travels to a deeper level of understanding.

Using this program with homeschooling:

At the original time of using this Saskatchewan set, I didn’t homeschool. My kids attend the public school system here in our town. Little did we know at the time that what was coming down the road…

And, then… 2020 rolled around. And, low and behold, I jumped on the opportunity to homeschool! And, one of the first learning tools I purchased was the Great Canadian Alberta History unit!

I’ve read that some parent’s don’t enjoy this curriculum, finding it too broad or too detailed or not detailed enough. No curriculum is perfect for everyone.

But, for our month’s trip through Saskatchewan, it was a great tool to have along. And, for learning about Alberta’s history for my homeschooling grader 4er, the Alberta history unit was a great fit.

And also, a review of Purposeful Art (also by The Great Canadian Adventure Company)

While updating this post I wanted to add that I also ended up purchasing the Purposeful Art Curriculum. And wow! I absolutely loved this… while I appreciated the detail and activities in the Canadian units, my daughter is really into art. The Canadian units were short-lived… using them once in a while or reading them once then not touching them again.

However, we used the Purposeful Art book all through her homeschooling grade 5 and 6 year.

She would choose an artist, then

  • we’d read the chapter together,
  • talk about the very thoughtful and introspective questions together,
  • maybe check out some of the suggested YouTube videos,
  • possibly do an art study on the image,
  • and then she would do the art project suggested for that artist.

Usually we’d work through one artist over the course of 2 weeks, sometimes longer if we were really enjoying that artist and wanted to dive in a bit deeper.

Again, I can’t stress enough, I was really impressed with the Purposeful Art curriculum!

To sum things up:

Homeschooler, worldschooler, road-tripper, or just curious and enthusiastic learners… I hope that you consider the Great Canadian Adventure learning program for your family!


2 thoughts on “The Great Canadian Adventure Review (using it homeschooling and camping)”

  1. I just talked to a couple last night who home schooled their 4 kids Jenn. They are now adults and doing great in the world. They talked about the importance of real life experiences, though I am unsure what curriculum they used. The Great Canadian Adventure sounds like an incredible program. Thanks for sharing.

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