Portage & Main Press

Based out of Winnepeg, Portage & Main Press is a publisher that provides some outstanding materials for teachers. Divided into both the Western curriculum and the Ontario curriculum, you can find complete teacher manuals for most of the major subjects – Math, Science, and Social Studies. They have also created one for ESL early years, and have added printable french language sheets for the Science books.

The books are called “Hands-On” with the promise of active learning. I ordered the Grade 2 Science and Technology book this year – hoping on blind faith that it would be what I was looking for. It was pretty expensive, at least by my standards, but I was still excited. Part of me worried that it would be geared too much to group learning – which isn’t really great when you are homeschooling one or 2 kids! I had no idea what to expect.

Well, it arrived.

The first section is a list of goals, curriculum expectations and outline, explanations on how to use the book, etc. as well as assessment tools and photocopyable journal sheets. Interesting pages like student self-assessments and science portfolio sheets are included too.

Following that is the meat and potatoes of the book – divided into units. There’s lots of lists of materials, books, suggested extras, etc then lesson plans for each topic.

portage and main

Am I pleased with the book?

YES! I feel that it was a worthwhile investment for me because I’ve been trying to find a great hands on program for our science curriculum. I don’t think sitting reading a textbook is quite how my boys will learn best. I’m excited about the lessons they’ve put together, the activities and extension ideas. What makes it the most worthwhile for me is that it’s stuffed full of reproducibles – which means I can use this same book over and over for all the kids. I don’t have to buy it again. I don’t have to buy any extra kits or materials the next time around. For me – that’s worth it.

The book is cleanly laid out, with objectives clearly outlined for each step of the way. There are lists of required materials, suggested readings and websites, instructions for each activity and all the worksheets your student might need, as well as guidelines for marking skills and accomplishments. I can see why this resource is popular in the teaching community. Even with the group activities, I can simply adjust it so that we can work on the tasks together as a group.

The only downside I can see is that these books don’t go all the way through Grade 8 – at least, not yet. I’m not sure if they plan to expand the book series. Math goes to just Grade 3 or 4, Science to Grades 6, Social Studies to Grades 4 – 6.

If you would prefer to order just one unit, you are in luck. Both the math series and science series are also available as modules – where you can just purchase one topic instead of the whole book.

Visit the Portage and Main Press website  for a full list of available books in the Hands-On series, samples of each level and subject, to order or to learn more.


Lisa Marie Fletcher
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