Critical Thinking, Geography, Teaching Resources

Animal Tracks & Learning to Think

TracksPrintable_Page_1  TracksPrintable_Page_2.jpg

For the printable worksheet and accompanying video go HERE.
Looking at animal tracks gives children a chance to observe, question, and think critically about what they see. Looking for animal tracks is a great opportunity to turn off the devices and enjoy the outdoors while combining science and geography with investigation and inquiry.

Teaching Resources

Poems recited by Robert Service

Click here for link to Poems recited by Robert Service

Robert Service by his cabin in the Yukon

Robert Service, a wanderer and a poet, became famous in his lifetime for ballads about the Klondike Goldrush.

He wrote many poems before he went to the north, and later, was transferred by the bank he worked for to Whitehorse, and then Dawson City.

He heard the old-timer’s tales and turned them into verse.

We love to share with you YouTube audios of Robert Service reciting two of his most famous poems The Shooting of Dan McGrew and The Cremation of Sam McGee. Click the link in the title above the image to go to our webpage. While there, also see printables of the text so your family can follow along, with notes for reading comprehension.

Our family fondly remembers the middle school years when we read through a ballad a day at the dinner table.

Every Canadian should know the ballads of Robert Service. I hope you enjoy them.


David Thompson Series … #1

David Thompson might have been small and stocky, but he is larger than life in reputation. I can hear his laugh, imagine the twinkle in his eye, see him urge his companions to exhuastion, and glimpse his star-gazing calculations on a frosty night. There is a lot written about Lewis and Clark, but Thomson can be considered the greater of the geographers. Not only that, but as a trader he was a perceptive businessman, respectful of the native peoples and the French Canadiéns with whom he operated, and unique to his peers, he was a loyal family man.


David Thompson’s great aptitude for surveying allowed him to map almost one-fifth of the continent with unusualaccuracy.  His maps were regarded as authoritative well into the 20th century. Thompson completed a large map in 1814, which was still being used by the Canadian government 100 years later.  Explorer Alexander Mackenzie once said that Thompson did more in ten months than he would have thought possible in two years.


Time and again Thompson proved his good judgment in commerce. He respected the Native chiefs with whom he conducted business and managed the relationships of traders and Natives with shrewd insight. The following amusing incident, which Thompson records in his journal, shows just how clever he was at diverting conflict and keeping his trading colleagues in good humour (text appears as it was written).

 The Salish Indians were a fine race of moral Indians, the finest I had seen, and set a high value on the chastity of their women…two chiefs…entered the hall to smoke, but now with grave faces. I supposed they had heard of some chance of war: they soon broke the silence, …You know our law is, that a man that seduces a woman must be killed; I said I have no objection to your law, to what purpose do you tell me this;…one of your men has been every day, while we are hunting, to my tent with beads and rings to seduce my daughter. Looking round on my men, he said he is not here, (on their entering my servant had gone into my room, I knew it must be him; the men and myself were every day too much fatigued to think of women.) But wherever he is, we hope you will give him to us that he may die by our law. I told them I had no inclination to screen the Man, but…they must give me a Man to take his place…they looked at each other, and said we cannot find a man capable, besides his going among strange people where he may be killed;…then what is to be done, exclaimed the Orator. I replied, let him live this time, and as you are noted for being a good gelder of Horses; if this Man ever again enters your Tent, geld him, but let him live; at this proposition they laughed, and said, well let him live but so sure as he comes to seduce our women, we shall geld him; after smoking, they retired in good humour. But my men, all young and in the prime of life, did not at all relish the punishment.1 

As a family man, Thompson was loyal and committed. The love story between David and Charlotte, his Metis wife, is legendary. In a time when most fur traders left their country wives and families behind when they returned to civilization, David Thompson remained faithful for life during 57 years of marriage. For her part, Charlotte traversed mountains, withstood hardship and encountered danger to travel with her husband, even with young children at her side. When David passed away in poverty and obscurity in 1857, Charlotte followed him in death only three months later. Their love was a testimony to their faith in God and their commitment to each other.

1Thompson, David. David Thompson's narrative of his explorations in Western America, 1784-1812. Ed.  Joseph Burr Tyrrell. 
Toronto: Champlain Society, 1916. 17 May 2007.  p. 422-423

Teaching Resources

High School Civics : The Courts System of Canada



Supreme Court of Canada
Supreme Court of Canada Interior
Credit: Colin Rose
cc by sa: Wikimedia Commons

Through this lesson plan students will discover the Canadian judicial system, how it works, and the various ways in which students may be required to participate in the judicial system at some point in their lives.

Students will watch a short series of videos which will introducethe various courts, what types of cases are heard where, and the judicial process. Students will then apply what they learn to a series of scenarios with question sheets.

The videos describe the Courts of B.C. and the lesson plans pertain to the Alberta justice system. Only small differences will apply to student’s home province which can be discovered through the following provincial/territorial websites.

A thorough answer key for teachers, as well as a suggested marking rubric are included.

How Does the Canadian Court System Work? Link to full lesson with answer key (PDF)

How Does the Canadian Court System Work? Link to student questions only (PDF)

Look for specific information about your province…


Teaching Resources

Teaching About New France

Defend Quebec online resources help students learn about New France in different time periods. Print a free Soldier’s Notebookfor keeping track of information.

Famous Canadian Quotes:

Who said this?
“I will reply from the mouth of my cannons…”

Heroism can take many forms. Louis de Buade, Comte de Frontenac, is the kind of swashbuckling hero of New France who leaps out of history.
Listen first to the dramatization on Heritage Minutes Radio and then watch Governor Frontenac on Historic Minutes online.
Looking for homeschool bloggers?
Jennifer Bogart has a blog : where  you can go to read about homeschooling and other family topics.
{This is independent blog and does not reflect the views of Northwoods Press.}

Geography Fair and Passports

Use these passports at your Geography Fair:

Use the printable passports and place a sticker or stamp with the country name on each page after studying a country of the world.
Printable Passports :

Large Files: These PDFs are good print quality but take a little more time to download.

Pretend Printable Passport – Canadian

Pretend Printable Passport – American

Small Files: These PDFs will download more quickly.
Pretend Printable Passport – Canadian

Pretend Printable Passport – American

Here is a link to free printable country stickers. Purchase blank sticker pages at your business supplies store, print, and cut-out stickers.

Read one mom’s post about their family’s Geography Fair.
You will need Adobe Reader to open the printables. You can download it free here.

Co-op Group Activity: 

Plan a Geography Fair with your co-op group. Each family chooses a country to present.

  • make a short presentation such as a folk dance, a song, or a poem etc.
  • set up a station (table) that can include maps, pictures, projects, a country stamp or sticker for passports, and an international food sample enough for all attending.
  • children receive play passports and go to each station for country stamps (or stickers). They should record 2-4 facts they learn about each country in their passport.

Election Resources for Teachers/Parents

Election Simulation and Word Games

These resources are geared for students in grade 5 and up through to grade 12.  

It explains how to organize an election simulation for a class of students or a group of young people. It’s designed to help them learn about their right to vote and how to exercise it. These activities can take anywhere from 45 minutes to 70 minutes depending on students’  interest and the available time.

This is taken from Elections Canada Website :

Teaching Resources

Reading Logs


Teacher PlanningMake a lesson plan booklet for each child to be in charge of their own lesson completion. This will save you from constantly having to manage each child and it builds self-discipline and industriousness into your child.


See Donna Young’s free student planner you can customize online. Scroll down on the webpage to fill in the fields with the child’s name, grade, subjects etc. and generate a planner with all the pertinant information. Customizable planner

Other Planners: Highland Heritage Forms Photo by Mary Baxter. Retrieved from Flickr




Reading Lists – If I could do it over again!

We read SO many great books over the years but didn’t keep a thorough title list. I definately encourage you and your kids to do this!

Remembering favourite books is like chatting with old friends; those characters we love and identify with.

I love Lisa’s free printable Reading Logs. Add to each child’s reading list each year. Give rewards for numbers of books read.

One creative Mom is putting together a memory box for each child as a gift when they leave home. Special books will be part of the collection. What a GREAT idea!!!!
Photo by Adwriter. Retrieved from FlickR