Donna Ward (Northwoods Press) is a veteran homeschool mom with lots of advice and experience. Her Canadian history and geography curricula are some of the most well known in the Canadian homeschooling community.
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Donna’s programs typically revolve around reading rich Canadian living books and non-fiction resources to make learning fun, combined with some hands-on activities, worksheets, and some online links available on her website. This video explains Donna’s recommendations for a scope and sequence to teach Canadian geography and history in your homeschool.
GRADES 1-3: CANADA, MY COUNTRY
In the primary years, Donna Ward recommends teaching your child to the basic geography of Canada. Her book Canada, My Country introduces young learners to our country. In this book, you will cover :
- The Political and Physical Map of Canada – (the regions of Canada)
- Symbols of Canada – (like the flag!)
- The Government of Canada – (voting, the Prime Minister, and taxes)
- Freedoms in Canada (like speech and travel)
- Outstanding Canadians (like Terry Fox)
There are 28 lessons in total. For each lesson, you will find a list of materials needed, a short reading text, assignments, and either a colouring page or worksheet to complete. (Plus, can you find Bucky the Beaver hiding throughout the book?) Most importantly, Donna Ward has included a list of reading materials to use with this study. Most of them are available in libraries or you can buy them in a complete social studies bundle on her website.
GRADE 2 – 5: CANADA’S NATIVES: LONG AGO
Next, Donna Ward suggests learning about the Indigenous communities of pre-European North America with her book Canada’s Natives: Long Ago. Learn the lifestyles of the seven cultural groups of Canada’s First Peoples with information and stories. In this book, you will cover the following communities:
- Eastern Woodland Farmers & Hunters
- Pacific Northwest
This program isn’t broken into lessons, but instead focuses on units for each group. Most of them explore topics such as food, shelter, hunting, customs, etc. along with various stories. Throughout the whole study, students create a project book filled with worksheets, colouring pages, and other activities. Again, Donna offers suggestions of fiction and non-fiction books to bring this period of history to life. You can find many of them at your local library, or buy the Canada’s Natives: Long Ago on her website.
GRADE 4 – 6: A GUIDE TO CANADIAN GOVERNMENT
Looking for a way to teach your kids about the Canadian government and how it works? Introducing Donna Ward’s new Canadian Government Series for kids ages 8 – 12 – presented as computer-based interactive modules based on the book “Who Runs This Country Anyway?” by Joanne Stanbridge.
This book presents to kids a detailed (and fun) presentation about Canada’s government through the eyes of some fictional kids as a research project.
” In this info-packed book, a comical duo–a keener student and her offbeat sidekick–guide readers through the electoral and governing process, from casting a vote in an election, to passing a bill in Parliament, and all the points in between. Finding out about Canada’s government has never been so lively! Nine chapters take the reader through topics such as federalism, monarchy, Confederation and the BNA act, elections and voting, minority and majority governments, a day in the House of Commons, Question Period, and more.”
Dividing the book up into 15 lessons, Donna uses a PowerPoint style presentation to detail and explain the ideas behind how our government works.
At the beginning of each lesson, Donna has clearly laid out what you need to do in the book, as well as what that module is going to cover.
The lessons include both audio and visual lessons, as well as review quizzes and other interactive features. I liked that the quizzes were varied too – multiple choice questions, drag and drop, and pick the picture are some of the options. And there are both sound effects and pop-up message boxes to let you know if you are right or wrong.
I found the narrative very clear and easy to follow, with the navigation of the program used naturally intuitive – a simple next button. Even though I probably should be well-familiar with the governmental system, I’ll admit that even just checking out the first few modules taught me about more about how our government works.
You can order this program from Donna’s website – it has two modules and the “Who Runs This Country Anyway?” book.
GRADE 4-8: COURAGE AND CONQUEST: DISCOVERING CANADIAN HISTORY
Now on its seventh update, Donna Ward’s flagship product is Courage and Conquest: Discovering Canadian History. Designed for students in grades 4-8, this program starts with life before European contact and travels through Canadian history to when Nunavut was created. This book is thicker than its previous editions, boasting fantastic artwork and full colour pages.
Donna has taken great care in updating this program, making sure that it connects the study to the six historical thinking concepts and cultivating quality resources to support this program. Included are also ways to tie it into the old video series Canada: A People’s Country, a timeline, map, and online connections.
In this book, you will study:
- Beginnings (Pre-contact, Vikings, Early Explorers)
- New France
- After the Conquest
- Opening of the West
- From Sea to Sea
Divided into five units, thirty lessons offer a short text to read, an assignment to complete, as well as a list of relevant additional resources and field trips you can take to bring the topic even more to life. One of the popular features of this program is Donna’s recommended readings for each topic – a combination of both fiction and non-fiction books to really focus on bringing each moment of history alive for your children. You will be able to find many of these books at your library or you can order them in the Canadian History Bundle.
GRADE 5 – 7: GEOGRAPHY: PROVINCE TO PROVINCE
Donna recommends spending time in these grades diving more into Canadian geography to get to know more about the provinces and the people who live in each. Her book, Geography: Province to Province takes students on an armchair journey through the country. In this book, you will study:
- Peoples of Canada
- The Shape of the Land
- Each Province and Canada
Sections of text are presented to teach about the geographical features, the cultures, and various other features of each province & territory – like key industries. Worksheets and mapping activities are included as well. Suggested books are provided, along with where to find related books in the library.
HIGH SCHOOL: CANADA IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY
For high school, Donna Ward has put together a Canadian history program that focuses on more modern history. Her book, Canada in the Twentieth Century, is designed to meet the requirements of a high school Canadian history course in most provinces. Intended to be used with the textbook, Counterpoints – which you can get a 12 month digital online-only version of from her website, and the third and fourth volumes of the DVD program, Canada, A People’s History.
Divided up into 13 units, students have 68 lessons to work through:
- 1896 to the First World War
- World War I
- The Hard Times
- World War II
- Life After the Wars
- The New Flag
- Uncertainty in the 80’s and 90’s
- History to Today
- Human Rights
As usual, Donna’s program leans heavily on living books, listing many quality fiction and non-fiction books to find at your local library or in her High School History Bundle.
On her site, Donna Ward also offers many historical fiction and reference materials for individual purchases, blog posts with great resources, and links to great things she’s found to help you make your learning at home experience even better.
If you are looking for Canadian history and geography studies, Donna Ward / Northwood Press is one of the first places you should explore.